European theater and Europe’s new reality

Theater must come face to face with reality and be in touch with it constantly. It must look around itself and deal with what is going on, reflect it, not to mention record it for history through the creation of new works and, of course, productions. Based on these principles, the theme of the European Theater Convention’s (ETC) festival this year focused on the issue of Europe’s immigrants and refugees. «European Theater: A Mirror of Uprooted People,» took place in Slovenia’s Nova Gorica from April 30 to May 9. The same ideas are incorporated in the stance of a number of ETC leaders, namely Daniel Benoin, director of the National Theater of Nice; Giles Croft, artistic director of the Nottingham Playhouse, and Emil Esteban, artistic director of Centro Andaluz de Teatro. The ETC’s members include 36 theaters from 20 European states with Greece represented by the Greek National Theater and the Experimental Stage of the Thessaloniki Technis Theater. One of the convention’s main objectives is to promote the common traits shared by European countries, while also maintaining the differences, such as language, as a source of wealth for the continent’s people. European thinking «We did not have to wait for the European Union’s enlargement in order to include theaters from eastern, northern and southern Europe in the ETC’s bosom,» noted various officials from the prominent theater organization, which is funded by the European Commission. The same officials announced that the convention’s next festival will focus on dialogue and differences between Europe’s north and south. It’s worth noting that the convention’s biannual festivals feature primarily new works and productions, usually written and staged especially for each festival, with topics more or less relating to its central theme. The same occurred this year with the issues of immigration and refugees. The majority of the works were written especially for the festival and some of the plays were worked upon by more than one theater company. This was the case in Jorge Semprun’s new, trilingual play taking place during World War II in an unknown concentration camp somewhere in occupied France. In Nova Gorica, the play was interpreted by members of the National Theater of Nice, the National Theater of Seville and Luxemburg’s Theatre de la Ville. Also on this year’s festival agenda was a theater composition based on soldiers writing from the front. This work was eventually interpreted by Hungarian, Slovenian, Italian and Austrian artists. «This kind of mix is the best way for European people to understand one another. This is why in life we need things like the ETC,» noted one of the European theaters directors who had traveled to the Slovenian town.

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