What about our neighbours? Let’s go travelling/learn from theatre makers outside the UK 

Convener(s): Solene Marie


Summary of discussion, conclusions and/or recommendations:

Issues & problems that were identified:

  • We tend to get very bogged down in our own little national problems with theatre making. It is therefore very refreshing to go abroad and see that other theatre makers’ preoccupations are very different!
  • The Arts Council is very focused on the idea that they need to support British work, by the British, for the British
  • British people just don’t seem to be interested in discovering international work
  • Foreign companies with very high recognition in many countries say they don’t come to the UK because they feel that there is no interest for what they do in the UK
  • Theatre companies are always associated to their country and its politics. But theatre should be able to rise above politics
  • It is very important to know why you are touring to a particular country with a particular piece
  • Language problem. Non-verbal work travels much easier
  • There used to be a lot of money to create international work up to about 2006, which has disappeared now… BUT it has been mentioned that this money has disappeared from London and is now in the regions?
  • It is very difficult to find money to actually get foreign artists to travel to the UK to devise/create/rehearse work
  • As international plays are costly, it seems that ticket prices are often higher?
  • British Council showcases: to fit the criteria, foreign programmers have to either have already established a relationship with the company or have the funds to buy the show straight away


Resources that were mentioned:

  • Traditional EU funding programmes are very institutional and complicated. But new, much simpler programmes have been created, such as Youth in action
  • The internationalists: group/network of people who make international work and invite each other over for theatrical visits!
  • Contact festivals: their programme is much more international than theatres’ programmes
  • E-motional: gives theatre practitioners funding to travel and create collaborations abroad
  • Performance Space and The Yard (Hackney): two venues that host international work even though they have no budget
  • Fence: group of writers from all over the world
  • Visiting Arts don’t have any more money but can offer advice
  • Northern Visual Theatre (Norway) provides space for residencies
  • There is a website that lists European residencies (name to be looked up…)
  • Strategic touring money can be used to bring in foreign artists to tour in the UK
  • Use of surtitles
  • Travelogue maps out the circulation of plays in Europe
  • Establish personal relationships abroad!
  • It is very important to learn how to communicate with other theatre makers and programmers in Europe as a basis for the production of joint projects



  • Simon McBurney will be associate artist/programmer at this year’s Avignon Festival, so this might create links between British theatre and French theatre?
  • World Shakespeare Festival at the Globe is a very interesting and important event for the British theatrical world.

It is also a very important event for foreign companies who are being invited. For the Nigerian company, it is a really exciting opportunity as it enables them to present work in the UK and it also means a lot to them to be recognized as a good company by the Globe

  • It would be great if the Royal Court opened up their international programme to create networking events for producers and directors


So, what do we do now??

- Should we start a petition to ask for more international work to be toured in the UK??

- Tonic Company fund research projects linked with theatre: should someone get funding to do some research on the subject?


Thank you very much to all the active and passionate participants!!