Question! Encounter! Play!

Question! Encounter! Play!

10 November 2022 1105 views

by Andrea de la Cruz

(Attached at the bottom are the program and poster for 2023)

Question! Encounter! Play![1] is an inclusive arts project that aims to bring together young asylum seekers in Switzerland and young people in Europe. During the project, participants with and without experiences as refugees, live and work together for a week in the Goetheanum’s surroundings. Guided by members and collaborators of the Youth Section, the participants create a theatre play from scratch that considers their biographical journeys. Parts of the script and music, the stage and costume design are developed collaboratively out of the weaving of talents and collective initiative during the week.

In 2021 the first edition took place in collaboration with Movetia, the Anthroposophical Society in Switzerland’s Initativ Forum für Geflüchtete, the Friends of Waldorf Education and Caritas’ Degenbalm Centre for Asylum Seekers. For the project’s second edition, the Youth Section teamed up also with The Necessary Teacher Training College (Denmark) and Monte Azul Community Association (Germany/Brazil). This year’s cohort was made up of 24 people aged 17-30 from 12 different countries. Participants came from Europe, North America, Latin America, Asia, Australia and the Middle East. They arrived at the Goetheanum Campus on the 9th of October. They were welcomed by the project’s facilitators, who had been preparing for the entire year before their arrival.

During the preparation months, the team worked on post-pandemic questions related to individual and societal life. The recognition of life unfolding in thresholds or “between worlds” as a result of living “before and after moments” appeared as a central theme. “What (or who) guides us in these moments?” became a leading question for the process. The exploration of the complexity of biographies, our digital global societies, the nature of relationships to oneself, others and the spiritual world, infused a process of imagination for the team, in which we tried to develop respect for the uncertainty and delicacy of human life — and a draft playscript to work from. In the last weeks before the participants’ arrival, during Michaelmas, members of the team also worked with Steiner’s indications of a possible Michaelmas Festival in the future[2]. The question how do we practice a recognition of the dignity intrinsic to each individual, regardless of race, nationality or cultural belonging, carried them through the process.

“… We must seek for feelings and ideas which have nothing to do with human distinctions of any kind on earth. Such feelings and ideas cannot be found. They must be sought where the human spirit and soul pulsate – that is, on the path of spiritual science. (…) Only through this striving for spiritual truth is the real Christ to be sought and found…”[3]

The week’s work develops in artistic and biography sessions. In the latter, participants are guided through grasping what brought them to the present moment. “Our biographies are completely different, but our future looks the same; it is unknown”, said a participant from Argentina after the biography work with a peer from Afghanistan. In the creative workshops, participants work together towards the shaping of a common future (the final performance) out of their enthusiasm and commitment for the project.

On the 15th of October, just 6 days after the participants got to know each other for the first time, the Goetheanum community attended their “work in progress” performance at the Felsli. “It was very inspiring to see that in only one week, one could feel the deep connections that participants had made with each other, without prejudice, without pity. It looked like a meeting to build from, where language differences, abilities, and special needs were included. From this encounter, a special friendship is born, based on knowing that the other is there. They are not superficial encounters; this project truly weaves people together”.

Registration for 2023 is open!


[1] In German (Frage! Begegne! Spiele!)

[2] 8 lectures on Michaelmas found in the compilation “The Festivals and Their Meaning” (1996) Forest Row: Rudolf Steiner Press, pp. 317-389

[3] The Michael Path to Christ (Extract) given in Stuttgart on the 25th December 1919. Found in “The Festivals and Their Meaning” (1996) Forest Row: Rudolf Steiner Press, p. 389