Jersey Arts Centre has been organising cultural exchanges with St Helier’s twin town of Bad Wurzach, in southern Germany, since 2003 as part of the peace, reconciliation and friendship initiative that began with the official twinning in 2002.
Our commitment to these cultural youth exchanges these past 17 years has been pioneering and unparalleled in terms of cultural diplomacy and in cementing peace, reconciliation and friendship.
Since 2003 we have toured seven youtheatre productions to the Kurhaus in Bad Wurzach and performed both a schools and a public evening show on each occasion. Two of our Theatre-in-Education productions have also toured to the Realschule and to schools in Biberach and Kisslegg.
On each occasion, members of both the youtheatre and Theatre-in-Education companies have been hosted by German families and enjoyed unparalleled hospitality during their stay. They have also delivered practical drama workshops on concentration, communication and commitment at each school.
Members of the youtheatre have now reciprocated on seven separate occasions when they have hosted groups in 2005, 2008, 2010, 2013, 2015, 2017 and 2019. On each occasion, c.15 young people have travelled to the Island.
In 2005, and for the Liberation 60 Celebrations, ex-internees, youtheatre members and young people from Bad Wurzach performed the Opportunity Drama for Her Majesty The Queen in Liberation Square on Liberation Day. The Berni Gallery also hosted an exhibition of the work of Sepp Mahler from Bad Wurzach between 10-21 May with the assistance of both Egon and Gisela Rothenhäusler of the Leprosy House, where Sepp Mahler’s work is housed – 20 of his pieces were brought to the Island over the Liberation Day Celebrations. At the preview, Hermann Bilgeri was presented with the Silver Seal of the Island by the then Deputy Bailiff. In the December of 2005 our second Theatre-in-Education project, Secret Weapons, performed at the Realschule and the Salvatorkolleg, and in Biberach, with the company delivering a number of practical workshops.
In January 2015, our fifth Theatre-in-Education project, The Great Warrior, performed back at the Realschule and also at a school in Kisslegg. There were a total of 262 attendances at these three performances with the company also delivering two practical workshops introducing the themes and issues in the play.
On each tour, the St. Helier Partnerschaft (Twinning) Committee has contributed a grant towards the cost of Jersey Arts Centre’s van travelling with set, costume, lighting and sound and for this we are hugely grateful.
On each exchange, youtheatre and Theatre-in-Education members are chaperoned by parents without whom the journeys would not be possible.
Jersey Arts Centre’s stage team has also allowed for the professional delivery of these productions, in style, with Steven Laffoley-Edwards playing an instrumental part in the success of the tours.
Our thanks also extend to the former Head Teacher at the Realschule: Frau Blaschko, who has made these exchanges possible, and seven of her teaching staff who, over the years, have been instrumental in machinating the details of the exchanges: Ingeborg Ege, Volker Jedelhauser, Heidi Maier, Franziska Gsteu, Ralph Schulz, Stefanie Henkel-Hagman and Franziska Matischok. Danke schön.
However, Hermann Bilgeri is the one person over the years who has believed in the Partnerschaft initiative and ensured our well-being, safety and itineraries and facilitated the phenomenal success of these adventures. Hermann: Danke schön.
THE PARTNERSCHAFT / TWINNING TOURS:
2003: Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare
2005: The Last Voyage of Philip D’Auvergne by Simon Crowcroft
2005: Secret Weapons by Daniel Austin
2008: The Women of Troy by Euripides
2010: Life of Galileo by Bertolt Brecht
2012: The Conversation by youtheatre members
2015: The Great Warrior by Daniel Austin
2016: Matchbox Theatre by Michael Frayn
2018: Animal Farm by George Orwell, adapted by Ian Wooldridge
11 youtheatre members toured to Bad Wurzach in March 2018 and there were 410 attendances at the two schools performances, and 120 at the public performance of Animal Farm.
Our thanks to the Realschule teachers, Stefanie Henkel-Hagman and Franziska Matischok, for co-ordinating and hosting us. In July 2019, 16 young people were also hosted by our youtheatre families. But, unfortunately, due to the coronavirus pandemic in 2020, the Beasts and Beauties exchange (29 March – 4 April) was cancelled…
Each August, between 2016-2108, we also hosted a student from the Gymnasium Salvatorkolleg, on a two-week work experience placement with our Stage Department. Our thanks to the Galvins and the Masons for hosting during these stays, and to Gisela Rothenhäusler for coordinating the exchange programme.