How can we collaborate with Europe to produce theatre for a young audience?

Convener(s): Amelia Bird

Participants: Chris, Marianne, Alex, Rich, Some bumblebees 

Summary of discussion, conclusions and/or recommendations:

This question was raised as it is the subject of the Kanonhallen theatre seminar in Norway in a couple of weeks. Amelia hopes to get an English perspective to share with companies abroad. 

We discussed the previous experience/projects of some participants:

  • A French artist producing site-specific work for young people on both sides of the channel.
  • NSDF producer who informed us that the NSDF has a budget for two international artists to attend.
  • An artist from an English touring theatre hoping to produce in Europe.

We discussed what we thought made good theatre for young people:

  • Theatre which avoids over-simplifying for a young audience, which engages adults and children equally.
  • Theatre which works using its own internal logic. That is magical, challenging and a good show, not just a good ‘children’s’ show.
  • We discussed shows that we thought worked well and those that didn’t. 

We discussed the difference in artistic styles across borders:

  • There is a definite difference in style from country to country.
  • For example puppets are thought of as being for adults in France whereas there is a traditional perception of them being for children in England.
  • Marianne feels that England is more experimental than France.

We discussed barriers to international touring:

  • COST of travel and accommodation.
  • Language barriers were discussed, but it was decided that they were an opportunity to make more adventurous visual work and not really a barrier to touring.
  • Marianne suggested that in France a small amount of simple English would be seen as a bonus for parents taking their children to a play (for 5 year olds plus).
  • Fear of the unknown, producing from abroad you don’t know the venues or markets.
  • Lack of knowledge about funding opportunities. We discussed at various points an EU fund, the British Council and EUCLID and discovered that we really didn’t know that much about what was possible! 


  • Promoting work to overseas producers who would be better equipped to organise a tour. Showcasing at international festivals and producing high-quality DVDs.
  • Choosing an international subject matter (The Alchemist and Harry Potter were given as examples).
  • Is there a industry directory for Europe?
  • Ask for advice from companies who have been there (example Cheek by Jowl).
  • Could there be an EU funded festival that tours to different countries? (like the National Theatre of Scotland crossed with the Eurovision song contest!)
  • The National Theatre’s ‘International Connections’ has become ‘National Connections’. Is anyone prepared to take up what has been lost?
  • A European network site/Facebook page.
  • Set up exchange programmes in theatres and also much more informally through theatrical ‘couch surfing’ (people offer up accommodation or rehearsal space for free and use others in return).
  • Distance collaboration. A project where a youth company in England writes a play which is passed to a company in another country to work on, who pass it to another etc. etc. and the final product could be performed simultaneously without the need to travel.
  • A mini festival within the Edinburgh Fringe with one venue solely programming work for young people.


ACTION: Amelia will take all these ideas to Norway and put any results on NING. Thank you!