Ten cities, one project, the theatre in common

PROSPERO, the magician of Shakespeare: a utopian who gathers what was separated …

Originally, Europe was conceived as a liberal common market – even if it is a bit in crisis right now!

But artists do not like this version of things. As the Renaissance period has shown, they are extraordinary ambassadors of humanity, able precisely to reflect on certain taboo subjects and to contribute to the construction of an artistic, cultural, democratic, social and peaceful Europe, open to other countries and other continents.

There are, of course, influential decision-makers, ultra-liberal leaders and great communicators who would like to say that theatre is a dead art, as they say there are dead languages. But it is a bit of a quick thing to forget that European theatre was born in Greece, at the same time as philosophy and democracy. It means that they are ignoring the dynamism of the European theatrical scene, which intends to play a role in a policy based on “the flourishing of the cultures of the member states, while respecting their national diversity, while highlighting the common cultural heritage”.

The Théâtre de Liège (Liège – Belgium), the Théâtre National de Bretagne (Rennes – France), the Odéon-Théâtre de l’Europe (Paris – France), the Emilia Romagna Teatro Fondazione (Modena – Italy), the Schaubühne am Lehniner Platz (Berlin – Germany), Göteborgs Stadsteater (Gothenburg – Sweden), Croatian National Theatre in Zagreb (Croatia), Internationaal Theater Amsterdam (Netherlands), São Luiz Teatro Municipal (Lisbon – Portugal) and Teatros del Canal (Madrid – Spain) intend to develop this vital intercultural dialogue through the mobility of artists and their works, as well as the circulation of artistic administrators and cultural productions.

The managers of these institutions decided to combine their capacities to support new works, and to set up a cultural cooperation agreement to develop creation, research and training in Europe. But this initiative is destined to open outward, by developing partnerships with theatres and festivals of quality but with insufficient visibility.

Cultural cooperation must encourage linguistic diversity. Even more than the visual arts or dance, theatre has to live up to this challenge. Particular attention will be paid to working in the original languages ​​or with  translations, not only during performances but also in all events where the audience will be present.

In its final phase, this collaboration is the result of two years of work and discussions between the directors and the teams. However, these institutions began to build relationships and share their views well before the network was put in place. Indeed, several managers of these six founding organizations already knew each other and most had already worked together. All share the desire for a joint and concerted effort.

Started in 2008, this bold theatrical project will last for five years. It has been called “Prospero”.

… Serving theatre that makes sense, full of joy and aesthetics

The meetings between the managers were made according to their affinities. It is their shared values ​​and common aesthetic intuitions that made this collective project possible.

The type of theatre considered in this context is a poetic and political theatre, favouring a certain awareness of critical judgment. Prospero is at the service of a theatre of art, in other words a theatre that makes sense, full of joy and aesthetics.

We must produce bold creations, personal and sincere artistic proposals, works in creation process and which are at the heart of today’s debates. We must combine reason and imagination. As Edward Bond said, “Only in this way is humanity possible.” This alliance is a place of confluence and sharing. Innovation to be added to the conservatories. Thanks to the many meetings with the audience of the different countries during all its travels, and during the exchanges between professionals of the world of the arts and culture, whether decision-makers, researchers or pedagogues, this project is the tangible proof of a community spirit, the testimony of a Europe in movement that engages in creation and its dissemination.

François Le Pillouër, coordinator of Prospero