CANON Theatre Technical History

Digital teaching and learning methods for a European history of theatre technology

The aim of this joint project with nine European university partners is to promote awareness and understanding of a European history of theatre technology. The project contributes to the current discourse on the preservation of the cultural heritage of transnational and international theatre technology and engineering.  

Within the framework of the cooperation with digital.DTHG, new teaching and learning methods for different sub-areas of this project will be developed and tested with the help of Augmented and Virtual Reality. The results are a series of digital learning materials that can be used as a whole, integrated into the teaching of various specific disciplines or used as reference material.

Project website:

The ERASMUS+ joint project with nine European university partners aims to promote awareness and understanding of a European history of theatre technology.  This project aims to contribute to the current discourse on the preservation of the cultural heritage of transnational and international theatre technology and engineering. The project takes different perspectives from the disciplines of theatre and event technology, art history, engineering, scenography, architecture and theatre studies, and is dedicated to epistemic and archival research. The scope of the project includes both material and immaterial cultural heritage in the field of performing arts.

Teachers and students from European universities, research centres and dual training programs – from Belgium, the Czech Republic, Spain, Germany, Italy, Sweden and the United Kingdom – work together in several meetings and workshops over a period of 3 years on different parts of the project:

The timeline is a multilingual platform that allows users to visualise milestones and key examples of historical practices, artefacts, technologies and buildings. The online version is based on an open communication platform that can be used throughout Europe and that maps the contexts and influences of specific phenomena of theatre practices and technologies as cultural heritage. An extensive filter system allows the entries to be viewed from different perspectives. Filtering can refer to a country, a technology, a discipline, people, relationships etc. This innovative approach makes it possible to discover new relationships by tracking the connecting relationships and influences of practices and technologies through time and space.

The canon comprises 100 of the most significant practices, technologies, people, places, artifacts and buildings in the history of technical theatre. Each entry in the canon is linked to the timeline and is published with a catalogue sheet both in digital and paper form. The canon is a presentation of the history of theatre technology as a European cultural heritage in a dynamic, appealing and varied way using modern technologies. The canon supports not only education, but also technicians, stage designers, architects who develop scenic spaces, researchers, cultural managers, artists and spectators. The methodology and platform developed for the canon will be transferable to other disciplines.

The teaching materials developed through research by teachers and students will be linked to the canon fact sheets and the timeline. These tools can be models, visualizations, records, etc. The tools are made language independent if possible. The tools can not only be used by teachers and students, but will also be available to a wider professional audience. The tools will not only represent the outcome of the project, but also an inspiring pedagogical approach. The less text-based approach is suitable for target groups in the technical field who are more visually oriented and offers access across language barriers.

The methodological guidelines describe a basic principle and different approaches to teaching and researching the history of technical theatre. These guidelines will improve the training of future specialists in the field of theatre technology so that they can learn about different approaches and possible solutions from the history of theatre technology in their own country and in other countries. The focus is on target groups who have an active learning style, who want to experience instead of reading, who want to work together instead of staying in their niche area.

An international network connecting teachers, future practitioners, historical experts and consultants will continue to be established after the project and be extended to new regions. The network will create awareness and offer students and teachers a more international perspective. The network is not a traditional educational network, but breaks down the existing boundaries between education, professional and heritage experts and brings together the strengths of these different groups.

Cooperation as an EU Strategic Partnership, supported by ERASMUS+:

Beuth University of Applied Sciences Berlin, Course of studies: Theatre Technology   
Barcelona: Institute del Teatre
Barcelona: Escuela Superior d ́Arquitectura (Universitat Politécnica de Catalunya)
Brussels: Kenntniscentrum Podiumsteknieken (Erasmushogeschool Brussel)
L ́Aquila: Accademía di Belle Arti
London: Rose Bruford College of Theatre and Performance
Madrid: Real Escuela Superior de Arte Dramático
Prague: Umeni Institute – Divadelni Ustav      
Stockholm: Konstnarliga Hogskola

Facebook group – Archiving Technical Theater History



News about this project

Webinar for European Theatre Convention

In this Webinar for the European Theatre Convention, Franziska Ritter will show different approaches and possibilities based on the research project “Im/material Theatre Spaces” by digital.DTHG, the digital competence centre of the Deutsche Theatertechnische Gesellschaft. Theatre has always been a pioneer for the development and application of new technologies, it is a place for artistic …

Final publication of research project “Im/material Theatre Spaces”

The research project “Im/material Theatre Spaces – Augmented and Virtual Reality for Theatre” has been successfully completed after 2.5 years. This publication summarises the findings of the project and provides insights into the interdisciplinary, practice-oriented research work. Download publication (pdf 8 MB)

Insights and Outlook – Interview Franziska Ritter & Pablo Dornhege

After two intensive research years, the project leaders Franziska Ritter and Pablo Dornhege take a look behind the scenes, draw a summary and glimpse into the future. In doing so, they are asking themselves the same questions that they have posed to their partners in the current project.

Presentation at Bühnentechnische Tagung Ulm

In June 2022, the 61st stage technology conference of the DTHG took place in Ulm: with an extensive program of presentations, panel discussions, round tables and lectures, the theatre landscape was finally able to celebrate its industry meeting live again.  71 companies and more than 1,100 guests were on site, got to know each other …

Results of the CANON Project

The CANON project will end in December 2022. Until then, the participating students and lecturers from the partner universities will develop the content for the database in various workshops in Stockholm, Rome and Berlin. Through the cooperation and practical collaboration, synergies could be created, ideas visualised at an early stage and potentials uncovered. The developed …

Results, licences, sustainable usage

The solutions we developed as part of the research project “Im/material Theatre Spaces” (2019-2022) serve as sustainably transferable concepts due to their prototypical model character. The gained insights and developed model solutions were published on various channels and are made available to the entire cultural landscape for free and flexible use.  Licenses For this purpose, …

“Digital tools are just a reflection on the fact that we want to work together” Interview Chris van Goethem

Chris van Goethem, researcher and teacher for technical theatre and history at Erasmus University in Brussels at the RITCS School of Arts, started in the 80s as a stage manager with touring theatre companies. By now he is working in two different areas: on the one hand everything that has to do with competences, knowledge …

Quickly explained: VR content – pre-produced versus real-time rendered, passive versus interactive?!

The types of content that can be presented and experienced in virtual reality are diverse and very different – we provide an overview.

Quickly explained: What? How? Web XR?

WebXR – what is that actually and how does it work? We use this technology for several of our digital.DTHG prototypes – here we explain what it is.  

Video BTT_digital Session: “Im/material Theatre Spaces”

The project managers Franziska Ritter and Pablo Dornhege present the project “Im/material Theatre Spaces” as an online session from the ditigal.DTHG lab after one year of project duration.

digital.DTHG at Bühnentechnischer Tagung

At the BTT – the Stage Technology Conference, the most important trade fair and further training event for the theatre and event technology sector of the Deutsche Theatertechnische Gesellschaft (DTHG), we will be giving on 28. & 29. October digital a first insight into our projects.

Kick-off workshop and prototype development

An interdisciplinary kick-off workshop entitled “IM/MATERIAL THEATRE SPACES” took place in spring 2019 at the TU Berlin under the direction of Franziska Ritter and Pablo Dornhege.

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