In Memoriam: Geesche Wartemann

April 1, 2019

With great sadness do we announce the premature death of our colleague, ITYARN co-founder , and friend, Professor Doctor Geesche Wartemann.

Without Geesche, ITYARN would not exist and the state of research in the field of Theatre for Children and Youth would still be in its infancy: isolated, hard to find even with the advent of google, and struggling for recognition.

Geesche attended an ASSITEJ World Congress and Festival in 2005 and while impressed with the artistic output, she, as a researcher, wondered where the research was. With support of ASSITEJ International, several national centers, and the University of Agder in Kristiansand, Norway, nine scholar/practitioners from six different countries gathered to discuss the status of research in their respective countries. The result was ITYARN, its first conference was in Australia in 2008 co-organized by Geesche Wartemann, and from that moment on ITYARN took off.

Geesche took part in and co-organized many of ITYARN’s research events. In 2013 she organized a special symposium, “Arts Meets Research: The International Symposium on Concepts, Contexts, and Methods of Research in Theatre for Young Audiences” in Hildesheim, inviting student/scholars from the University of Wisconsin-Madison to interact with student/scholars of Hildesheim. She co-edited a guest issue of Youth Theatre Journal (Vol 27:2, 2013) with select papers of this symposium. In 2014, Geesche became Chair of ITYARN and co-organized the third ITYARN Conference at the XVIIIth ASSITEJ World Congress and Festival in Warsaw, Poland. Select papers and presentation of this conference were also published, co-edited and spearheaded by Geesche in Youth and Performance. Perception of the Contemporary Child. (Series “Medien und Theater.” Hildesheim, Zürich, New York: Georg Olms Verlag, with Tülin Saglam, and Mary McAvoy).

As chair of ITYARN, Geesche organized the ITYARN “Market Place” and “Public Moment” at the 50 year Jubilee of ASSITEJ in Berlin in 2015 as well as the 2016 ITYARN “On the Edge of Practice and Research” presentations and workshops at the ASSITEJ Artistic Gathering in Birmingham in 2016, and she was intimately involved with the organization of the 2017 ITYARN conference, expanded over two days, at the XIXth ASSITEJ World Congress and Festival in Cape Town, South Africa, the first International TYA Research Conference on the African Continent.

Geesche was an intelligent, thoughtful, highly respected scholar, who cared deeply about her subject. Always friendly, gentle, and respectful, she stayed down to earth no matter whether you agreed or disagreed. Geesche leaves a legacy, enhancing many students’ and colleagues’ thinking and scholarly output. She will be remembered and missed.

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