‘Deutsches Theaterfest’ at Mount Holyoke College proves once again how much fun learning German can be

Apr 29, 2011

On April 28, 2010, the 34th Annual German Theatre Festival took place at Mount Holyoke College, South Hadley, Massachusetts. The drama competition known as Deutsches Theaterfestis a meeting point for German language classes from all over New England as well as from New York and New Jersey. Long-standing organizer Donna Van Handle, senior lecturer of German studies and dean of international students, and her assistant Mark Lauer, lecturer in German studies at the College, once again secured the smooth and effective running of the event.

"Every spring German language students from all over the Northeast look forward with great anticipation to their annual trip to Mount Holyoke to participate in the Deutsches Theaterfest," Van Handle said. "I think the Theaterfest has become so popular and well known around the country because it offers students the opportunity to use the language they've learned in a contextually meaningful way. At the same time they also realize that language learning can be lots of fun." The festival, the only one if its kind in the country, has been held at Mount Holyoke for over 20 years and has always been a resounding success.

This year 10 middle schools and high schools took part in the competition. Performances featured excerpts from classic plays by Schiller or Goethe, either in the form of adaptations of existing material or as original dramatizations, as well as modern plays and student-written works. Prizes were awarded in the categories middle schools and high schools.

Dramatic presentations in German were judged by a jury of secondary school German teachers, members of Mount Holyoke's German studies and theatre arts faculty as well as representatives of the German Consulate and the Goethe Institute in Boston. Performances were judged on language proficiency and acting skills, as well as appropriateness of material to the level of the group.

This year’s best middle school performance was presented by Wellesley Middle School, Wellesley, MA, with ‘Die Sendung der Köche’. In the high school category, the first prize went to the Waldorf School of Garden City, Garden City, NY, for their performance of the Wilhelm Busch play ‘Liebestreu und Grausamkeit’.

The 34th Annual German Theatre Festival was incorporated into the ‘do Deutschseries of events on German culture and language organized by the German missions and the Goethe-Institut locations in the US. As part of these ‘Deutschlandwochen’ and the ‘Deutsches Theaterfest’, Marion Appel, Vice Consul for Cultural Affairs at the German Consulate Boston, presented a special award to the theatre group featuring the best original screenplay. The so-called ‘Sonderpreis Deutschlandwochen’ was awarded to Newburyport High School for their student-written play ‘Nur noch drei Stunden’. The award features a gift certificate for theatre props and costumes.

Next year’s Annual German Theatre Festival and Competition will take place on Thursday, April 26, 2012. Click here to read about the winners of 2011 and previous years.

© German Consulate Boston