The Berlin Performing Arts Festival is organized by LAFT – Landesverband freie darstellende Künste Berlin e. V. in cooperation with the performance venues HAU Hebbel am Ufer, Sophiensæle, Ballhaus Ost and Theaterdiscounter.

The Berlin Performing Arts Festival celebrates the diversity of Berlin’s independent performing arts community at numerous theaters and performance venues throughout the entire city. Since 2016, this annual week-long festival has presented the work and artistic positions of Berlin’s performing artists and groups working in all genres.


@home! Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the measures taken to slow the spread of the virus, the Berlin Performing Arts Festival will take place this year in front of everyone’s personal screen at home. In light of having to plan a festival, this was a decision that was necessarily made at short notice and has posed new challenges and questions for all participants, the festival team and the artists as well as the performance venues ever since. But how could things be any different in a time where everything in our familiar everyday lives has been turned upside down? While the challenges arise in respectively individual instances, it is certainly problematic, to put it mildly, for all involved that there is no road map, no available knowledge, no certainty and most of all, that the situation is still open-ended. Open-end – except that this time it is not a dramaturgical device, but instead an overwhelming reality.

While the decision to realize the festival this year as an online edition was made at very short notice, it was in no way, shape or form indiscriminate. Hosting the events online on the internet was discussed very controversially within the team of the Berlin Performing Arts Festival. How can a festival be translated into a digital edition that normally performs in theaters and performance venues throughout the entire city? How can the festival do justice to the artists with their current, very different and often quite precarious situations? How to provide a signal that the performing arts within Berlin’s independent arts community continue to be significant and are urgently needed?

We have decided upon a new form of collaboration with all of the artists and performance venues who are participating in the festival.

Together with all of the artists involved, we have created a multipart documentary miniseries that will be presented during multiple days of the festival. Each episode is dedicated to a question that the festival team posed to all artists and performance venues: Why do we need the performing arts in times of crisis? What can the internet and the performing arts learn from each other? How can we use the performing arts to help us envision a hopeful future?

The answers reached the PAF team in the form of short statement on video. They constitute the source material for the filmmaker Paula Reissig. The documentary miniseries that has been created is a reaction to the special times that we are all currently living in. It is also an attempt to provide an equal form of participation.

The Digital Showroom, a virtual tour through Berlin’s independent performing arts community, shows what the voices collected here stand for artistically: here, artists and groups present their artistic works that had originally been planned for the schedule of programming to the audience using words and (moving) images, opening up points of access and providing creative approaches to their artistic praxis and projects – or provide invitations to live streams of their work adapted to the new circumstances. An overview presents the theaters and performance venues with their varying aesthetic signatures and profiles.

A variety of discussion and networking formats has been provided to deal with the questions and voices in the PAF Documentary Miniseries as well as with the artistic work and approaches: the conversations and discussions are intended to deal with the different aspects in a more in-depth manner with artists and scholars as well as to further develop them.

The familiar and popular newcomer’s platform Introducing… will present the selected artists in their own special online format in 2020, one that is not intended to simply be received by the audience, but instead is intended to activate them as well. With each participant creating an instruction manual for those stuck at home, this year’s Introducing… artists will invite the audience to regard their performances as practical knowledge that the audience can in turn actively use. The showcase and networking format PAF Show & Tell will take place digitally for visiting industry professionals and interested audience members. In addition, the internal advisement format 1:1 – Conversations About Artistic Praxis will also be offered.

Background & History

With LAFT - Landesverband freie darstellende Künste Berlin serving as the organizer, this festival is presented by the independent performing arts community itself: Professional artists, groups and performance venues can offer their contributions in response to an open call. Young artists who are new to the community also have the opportunity to present their work within the scope of a curated Newcomer’s Platform.

The festival coordination team works for LAFT Berlin and centrally promotes the festival and the participating productions, both in Berlin as well as internationallyl. The festival’s schedule of events and the productions presented is decentrally organized and financed by the participating performance venues and locations.

The festival’s schedule of programming is intended both for a Berlin-based audience as well as interested parties and professionals throughout Germany and abroad. The schedule of programming will be supplemented by ancillary programming as well as special formats and events for German and international professionals. 

The goal of the Performing Arts Festival is to present the diversity of the independent performing arts in Berlin and to make them visible within a larger framework as a successor to the 100° Berlin Festival which was held for the last time in February 2015 by Ballhaus Ost, HAU Hebbel am Ufer and Sophiensælen.  

Over the last twelve years, the city of Berlin as well as the independent performing arts community have changed and developed enormously. A vast number of new, international artists and groups have moved to the city and many existing groups have established and professionalized themselves. Numerous new performance venues and locations have opened and the quality as well as quantity of independent productions have increased. 

The former performance venues and organizers of the 100° Berlin Festival have decided to pay tribute to this new situation together with LAFT Berlin with the Performing Arts Festival.

More information about LAFT Berlin is available at www.laft-berlin.de

Information for Participating

LAFT Berlin invites all professional Berlin-based artists, groups and performance venues of the independent performing arts community to participate in shaping the schedule of programming by offering their productions and events as part of the Berlin Performing Arts Festival! 

By the end of the year, open calls are being published for the following programme formats as part of the festival:

The Berlin Performing Arts Festival is making a change and is inviting theaters, performance venues and artists within Berlin’s independent performing arts community to apply with artistic works addressing specific themes. 

This year, a (song) quote stands as an example for various topics. The subtitles indicate directions in which the series of programming that will result from the submissions for various topics can develop. This means that the artistic positions submitted are what will provide content for the series and give them their substance and contours.

With Introducing…, PAF, together with the four cooperating performance venues Ballhaus Ost, HAU Hebbel am Ufer, Sophiensæle and Theaterdiscounter, provide a schedule of programming with a focus on artists who are newcomers to Berlin.  The goal is to provide space for promising artists, artist groups and collectives and their first new productions for the community in which presentation, discussion and reflection are possible. This serves both as an “introduction” to Berlin’s independent performing arts community as well as to “introduce” Berlin to new positions.

The productions presented within the Newcomer’s Platform will be selected by the artistic leadership of the initiating performance venues together with the director of the festival on the basis of an open call and the selected productions will each be performed once at one of the venues over the course of four days of the festival. When making the selection, care will be taken to achieve a balance which reflects society as a whole.

PAF Show & Tell is a new format that will take place for the first time in 2020 and which serves as the successor to the previous Berlin Diagonale – Show Camp format. 

Over the course of the PAF Show & Tell event, completed work, planned work or work that is currently being produced can be presented over the course of the open networking format and / or shown in brief excerpts in a live presentation.