Convener(s): Ewan Downie

Participants: Julia Taudevin, Sarah Corbert, Jo Crowley, Alan Hescott plus many others.


Summary of discussion, conclusions and/or recommendations:

This session focussed primarily on the challenges and opportunities around theatrical exchanges across Europe – touring shows to festivals, bringing theatre to the UK, international funding sources etc.


Challenges Facing Crossing Borders

The UK funding structure or project funding does not lend itself to UK groups visiting European Festivals.

There are issues around performing works in English abroad (surtitles or translation?).

Lack of opportunities for European work to come here. We need to bring more international work here. How to develop audiences for non british sorts of work?

Hierarchy of international touring. Mostly established groups go abroad, on British Council tours, a remnant of empire, an exclusivity of attitude. Better outside London – there are more foreign links for small groups in the regions.

London as a cultural epicentre is not helping. Nor is the idea of fixed national identity “britishness”, “scottishness”. With so much cross pollination the idea of hybrid identity is more useful. A collision of cultures, a deep human identity.


How to work with international partners.

To work internationally we have to really want to work internationally.

Make the work for a broader audience.

Work needs to be made in true collaboration with international partners – not just parachute in and parachute out. There should be a theatrical conversation.

We need to build the possibility of an international audience into the work from the beginning. And this can make the work better in general.

You have to go out and see places, meet people, see work. Where are there sources of funding for this?


Why work with international partners?

In the current crisis there is a new opportunity for solidarity between theatremakers across Europe. A new opportunity to create a theatre without borders.

The world is becoming more “international”. Theatre needs to reflect this. Cross border stories. How can we access these?

Stability can be found in working internationally – when you can make work in several places your sources of support are less fragile.


Strategies for performing work in non-English speaking countries

Surtitles/Simultaneous Translation.

Use two (or more) different languages onstage. Audience can be hooked by story and energy. International collaborations in more than one language.

Use a made-up language.

Work beyond language. Street theatre. Mime. Outdoors theatre festivals exist across Europe.

Grammelot – international gibberish. 

Street Theatre is already international – a kind of modern commedia. 

Folk stories are similar across country divides – use as source material.

It is a challenge to enter into another country's nature for performers,  to taking on international stories.



A pilot programme called SPACE (Supporting Performing Arts Circulation in Europe) exists. Website This project's remit is to work to create more space for performing arts groups to work outside their home countries, to tour work to festivals, to create exchanges.

There are possibilities of finding funding through TEFL schemes – that there is a lot of money for theatre abroad that is in English and performed to people learning English – this is an untapped source of funding in many places (Spain was mentioned).

Professional Development awards for going abroad.

            Old Vic New Voices Scheme for going to New York. 

International Residencies

            Norway – Nordland Visual Theatre Performance Art Harbour

            Korea – Hoo Yang Theatre International Residencies