Our speakers for the ETC International Theatre Conference and Young Europe IV Festival, Nova Gorica (Slovenia) 17-21 April 2024.

Thursday 18 April 2024

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Cláudia Belchior

ETC Board President and Executive General Coordinator at the Centro Cultural de Belém in Lisbon (Portugal)

Cláudia Belchior was the President of the Executive Board of the D. Maria II National Theatre in Lisbon, Portugal, a position she held from July 2015 to June 2022. Cláudia has been involved with the performing arts for all of her career, at the foremost cultural institutions in Portugal, having served as Director, Coordinator for the Performing Arts, and Deputy Director for Planning and Budget at the Belém Cultural Centre and as Director of Production at the Gulbenkian Foundation. She has taught courses in Production Management, Stage Management, and Technical Direction in several institutions. In November 2024, she was elected President of the Board of ETC.

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Heidi Wiley

ETC Executive Director

Heidi Wiley has been Executive Director of the European Theatre Convention (ETC) since 2009. Under her leadership, ETC has become an established European cultural network with an international programme of artistic collaboration, professional development and advocacy for Europe’s public theatres, spanning over 30 countries. She led ETC to become a strategic partner of the European Commission and the recipient of several prestigious prizes, including the 2022 Art Explora – Académie des Beaux-Arts European Award for innovation in access to culture; and European prizes for outstanding achievement in the fields of audience development and cultural heritage.

Heidi is a sought-after moderator and speaker at European events and conferences. In 2022, Speaker at the 8th Culture & RTBF Meeting; 2021, Consultant for European cultural policy agencies KEA (Brussels) and PPMI (Vilnius); 2020, Co-initiator of the 1st European Theatre Forum of the European Commission and the German EU Council Presidency; 2019, Author for the European Expert Network on Culture and Audiovisual (EENCA).

Heidi started her career as an international producer and touring manager for artists Victoria Chaplin and the Tiger Lillies, touring around Europe and Asia at major festivals and theatre venues. A studied cultural manager with degrees from La Sorbonne and Leuphana University, she lived and worked over the last 25 years in the UK, US, France and Germany.

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Paulien Geerlings

Artistic Lead of Young Europe IV, Head Dramaturge at De Toneelmakerij (The Netherlands), ETC Board Member

Paulien Geerlings is a dramaturge, translator and yogi. After her high school education, she studied Philosophy and Theatre studies at the University of Amsterdam. In 2004 she graduated from DasArts, an international, multidisciplinary Master of Theatre, based in Amsterdam and founded by Ritsaert ten Cate. Between 2004 and 2006, she has been working with Theatre Company Dood Paard. In 2006 she became dramaturge of Ad de Bont, playwright and artistic director of the youth theatre company Wederzijds. This company merged with Liesbeth Coltof’s Huis aan de Amstel in 2009 and became De Toneelmakerij, the Amsterdam theatre company for young audiences.

Since its establishment, Paulien Geerlings has been the in-house dramaturge of De Toneelmakerij. As dramaturge, she has a strong focus on new writing, coaching of playwrights and supporting writers initiatives. She translated several plays for De Toneelmakerij. Her latest work entitled "2022 Witnessing U: Testimonials from the Frontline" was created together with Bogdana Orleanova and Iana Gudzenko based on testimonials from the war.

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Samo Turel

Mayor of Nova Gorica

Samo Turel, born on May 25, 1975, attended primary school in Renče and pursued higher education at the Law Faculty of the University of Ljubljana, graduating in 2000. He embarked on a career in law, initially at the Regional Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Northern Primorska before transitioning to judicial roles. Over the years, he assumed various positions within the judiciary, including director of the court.

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Dr. Aminata Cairo

Speaker and Lector (research professor) of Social Justice and Diversity in the Arts at the Amsterdam University of the Arts

Dr. Aminata Cairo is a speaker, scholar, and storyteller. She is the former lector of Inclusive Education at The Hague University of Applied Sciences and the former lector of Social Justice and Diversity in the Arts at the Amsterdam University of the Arts. She now works full-time as an independent consultant. She is particularly interested in using her academic, artistic and community skills to support, honour and celebrate the voices and stories unheard, overlooked, silenced and marginalised. Her work is exemplified in her book: Holding Space: A Storytelling Approach to Trampling Diversity and Inclusion (2021)

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Rui Tavares

Historian, Politician and former MEP

Rui Tavares is a Portuguese historian and politician. He has been elected a Member of the Assembly of the Republic in the 2022 legislative election, and has been a member of the Lisbon City Council since 2021.

Tavares is one of the founders and leaders of the green political party LIVRE, established in 2014. He had previously served as an independent Member of the European Parliament, elected in 2009 for the Left Bloc.

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Kim Komljanec

Adviser to the Slovenian Minister of Culture

Kim Komljanec works in the cabinet of the Minister of Culture of Slovenia. She is a bilingual (Slovenian and English) playwright, dramaturg and theatre director. Born and raised during the socialist era in Yugoslavia, Kim woke up as a writer during the dawn of capitalism in independent Slovenia.  Her first professional visit to the West was her residency in London’s Royal Court Theatre. Later, she earned an MA in playwriting from the University of Exeter (UK).

Kim is the recipient of several theatre and playwriting awards and nominations, her plays have won various international script competitions and have been staged in Slovenia, UK and USA. She also writes for radio and TV, teaches playwriting courses in Slovenian and English, works with drama teachers and makes theatre with children.

In 2022 Kim took on a challenge to work in the minister’s cabinet as advisor to the Slovenian Minister of Culture. Her main tasks at the Ministry are improving working conditions for freelance artists and offering expertise in the wider field of performing arts.

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Mirjam Drnovšček

General Manager of Slovene National Theatre Nova Gorica

Mirjam Drnovšček studied history and sociology at the Faculty of Arts in Ljubljana and management at the Faculty of Management in Koper. Her first job was at the Ministry of Culture, where she worked as a consultant for independent cultural workers from 1993 to 1996. In 1996, she started working at the Primorski Drama Theatre as PR and marketing manager. In 2004, she moved to Kranj and continued similar work at the Prešeren Theatre Kranj until 2011, when she became the director of the theatre. After a successful first term, she continued her work until the end of the second term. Under her leadership, the Prešeren Theatre Kranj became one of the highest-quality theatres in Slovenia, as evidenced by numerous awards and participations in domestic and international festivals. A particular achievement is the development and growth of the Week of Slovenian Drama Festival, which has become recognized internationally. She was interested in European projects already during her employment in Nova Gorica. In 2004, she participated in the preparation of the Gledališki Mejn(ni)fest festival (Festival without borders), which featured 16 performances from various European countries. In Kranj, in 2006, together with partners from Germany and Poland, she organized the international project Nachtasyl – Treffpunkt der Traüme (Night Asylum – Meeting Place of Dreams). At the end of 2019, in collaboration with the Crane Creations Theatre Company from Canada, she secured funding for the project Cankar Goes West. Since October 2021, she has been the director of the Slovenian National Theatre Nova Gorica.

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Gabrielle Bernoville

Representative of the Education, Youth, Sport and Culture department at the European Commission (DEGEAC)

Gabrielle Bernoville currently works at the European Commission where her portfolio covers cultural heritage, European identity, remembrance policy, European theatre and the arts. She also works for Creative Europe, a funding scheme programme supporting and empowering creative sectors. Gabrielle holds a degree in political science from Sciences Po and the College of Europe with a focus on Eastern Partnership countries. Beyond that, her interests cover European democracy and citizenship.

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Marko Bratuš

Member of ETC Theatre Advisory Council and Artistic Director of SNG Nova Gorica (Slovenia)

Marko Bratuš studied dramaturgy and radio directing at the Academy for Theatre Radio Film and Television at the University of Ljubljana, Slovenia. He worked both as a theatre and film director, as well as a dramaturge, musician, theatre pedagogue, new format developer and screenwriter for television, film, radio and theatre. He was artistic director at Gledališče Glej - NGO experimental theatre in Ljubljana between 2013 and 2016. Marko Bratuš has worked since 2016 as artistic director at the Slovenian national theatre Nova Gorica.

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Evein Obulor

Founder of Migration Hub Heidelberg and Coordinator European Coalition of Cities Against Racism

Evein Obulor is working on different levels of our societies to fight racism. In her current position as the Director of the European Coalition of Cities Against Racism, she works on racial injustices at the city level. She facilitates the exchange of antiracist policies for more than 150 European cities and supports them in shaping a European platform that promotes the role of cities in building inclusive and antiracist societies. As the Founder of the Migration Hub Heidelberg, a network for initiatives and actors working in the fields of antiracism and migration, she supports grassroot organizations, especially BIPOC-led groups, in making their engagement more sustainable and visible. With an academic background in Political Science and Education (University of Heidelberg) as well as Peace & Conflict Transformation (UNESCO Chair for Peace Studies, Innsbruck University), Evein works as a trainer and consultant for projects related to antiracism, diversity and empowerment. As a facilitator of the Youth Think Tank, a platform for meaningful youth participation, she empowers young people to actively shape society. She is a passionate Black feminist who served as a Youth Observer for the UN Commission on the Status of Women and published the essay collection „Black Is Capitalized“ together with RosaMag in 2021.

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Zoe Apostolidou

Young Europe IV Playwright, Cyprus Theatre Organisation (Cyprus)

Zoe Apostolidou was born in London, UK in 1981 and grew up in Nicosia, Cyprus. She holds a BA degree in Psychology from the University of Cyprus, an MA degree in General Psychology from the New School for Social Research in NY, USA and a Doctorate degree in Counselling Psychology from the University of Wales, UK. In addition, she has conducted postdoctoral research at Queensland University of Technology in Australia. Zoe has worked in several NGOs and charitable organisations and provided psychological therapy, and psychosocial support to migrants, asylum-seekers, women victims of domestic violence, as well as with individuals facing other psychosocial difficulties. As a researcher she has published articles in the areas of clinical work with asylum seekers and refugees and LGBTI issues. Zoe participated in THOC’s writing workshops in 2018 and 2019 where she was given the opportunity to start working on her first play. The play was submitted in Play5 – Play again programme, in 2021 and was presented at a staged reading in December 2021.

Zoe Apostolidou wrote the classroom play 'FAT' as part of the Young Europe IV programme.

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Emel Aydoğdu

Young Europe IV Playwright, Staatstheater Braunschweig (Germany)

Emel was born in Gaziantep, Turkey in 1990 and is an Alevi-Kurdish theatre director and writer. She studied scenic research, religious studies, art history and modern and contemporary art and was a scholarship holder of the Hans Böckler Foundation before she was hired as an assistant director at Theater Oberhausen in 2017-2019. Educational trips took her to Tel Aviv/Jerusalem and Paris. In 2011 she was awarded the Mercator Foundation special prize in the Federal Chancellery for her documentary ‘My Grandma, My Roots, My Homeland’. Previous works were created at the Schauspielhaus Bochum, the Junges Schauspielhaus Düsseldorf, the Theater Kohlenpott and the Theater Oberhausen. She was awarded the jury prize at the Monospektakel X 2020 with ‘The night just before the woods’ at the Theater Oberhausen and got promoted by the “Kunststiftung NRW” and “Kinder und Jugendtheaterzentrum der Bundesrepublik Deutschland”. In her work, she mainly deals with documentary, biographical and poetic perspectives of storytelling and connects her perception and narrative with the stories of others. For the Junges Schauspielhaus Düsseldorf she is currently writing a commissioned work entitled "When Clouds Grow" for people aged two and over.

Emel Aydoğdu wrote the classroom play '(Surviving) The Substitute's Lesson' as part of the Young Europe IV programme.

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Kurt Gabriel Meli

Young Europe IV Playwright, Teatru Malta (Malta)

Kurt studied French and Interpreting Studies at the University of Malta and is currently based in Luxembourg, carrying out a translation traineeship with the Maltese Unit at the European Commission's Directorate- General for Translation. As a playwright, Kurt wrote the short play Il-Grada, staged as part of the 2018 One- Act Play Festival by MADC and Teatru Malta and winning five awards, including Best Script. Additionally, he has contributed a short story entitled Neħodlok in-Nifs to the 2017 edition of the annual multi-genre writing collection Leħen il-Malti. Outside of the arts, he has provided content for various Maltese publications, including articles for the magazine Kultura and cultural interviews for the newspaper KullĦadd. Kurt is also an occasional actor, having been trained in the performing arts with Masquerade for seven years in both group and individual settings.

Kurt Gabriel Meli co-wrote the classroom play 'Gutz' as part of the Young Europe IV programme.

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Matin Soofipour Omam

Young Europe IV Playwright, Badisches Staatstheater Karlsruhe (Germany)

Matin studied dramatic literature and scenic writing at Tehran University and theatre pedagogy at the University of the Arts in Berlin. Since 2021, she works as a dramaturge at Theater an der Parkaue. As a freelance author, dramaturge and theater maker, Soofipour Omam is involved in various collectives such as Suite 42, Projekt-il, Waltraud900 and Geschichten aus der Stadt. For the JUNGE STAATSTHEATER she created the commissioned work ‘Links vom Mond'.

Matin Soofipour Omam wrote the classroom play 'Room Rumourss' as part of the Young Europe IV programme.

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Jaka Smerkolj Simoneti

Young Europe IV Playwright, SNG Nova Gorica (Slovenia)

Jaka is currently finishing his master's studies in Theatre directing and Dramaturgy at the University of Ljubljana. He got his bachelor's degree in Dramaturgy and performing arts in 2019 and was awarded an Academy Prešern's award for his thesis research. In 2021 he made his directorial debut in Gledališče Glej with a performance of I Dissapear by Arne Lygre, and the City Theatre of Ljubljana staged his play A Single Emerald, marking his professional debut as a playwright. A radio play of his, 'I just want to die', was produced by the national radio at the beginning of 2022. He also works as a theatre critic and a practical dramaturg, preparing several stage adaptations of short stories as well as cooperating in more devised works. In the framework of Young Europe IV Jaka plans to deal with the young LGBTQI+ scene in conflict with religion in Slovenia.

Jaka Smerkolj Simoneti wrote the classroom play 'Little Stars' as part of the Young Europe IV programme.

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Tereza Trusinová

Young Europe IV Playwright, Slovak National Drama Theatre (Slovakia)

Tereza is doing her master's in theatre dramaturgy and playwrighting at the Academy of Performing Arts in Bratislava. With her play Right to Die, she won the 21st Drama Texts Competition in 2021. She is also part of the project Author in the House, organised by A Studio Rubín Theatre in Prague, where she is writing a play under the title The Big Book of Overthinking. She is also one of the founders of Panopticon Theatre and is engaged in publishing and reviewing activities. As part of Young Europe IV she will base and develop her concept on investigative research in Slovak schools, and focus on the topic of mental health. 

Tereza Trusinová wrote the classroom play 'What's Up' as part of the Young Europe IV programme.

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Tomer Pawlicki

Young Europe IV Playwright, De Toneelmakerij (The Netherlands)

Tomer is an actor and a writer. As an actor, he works with several theatre companies such as Dood Paard, De Toneelmakerij, Theater Rotterdam and ‘t Filiaal. He also works in film and television and will feature in the Netflix series Diamonds in 2022 and the KRO series Rampvlucht. He wrote two plays and one novel. His novel Dankzij de oorlog (Due to the war) is a continuation of his first play Dankzij de oorlog, which he performed as a solo in 2014. His second play De Stokjesman premiered in June 2022 at De Toneelmakerij in Amsterdam. Tomer is a Dutch playwright with an Israeli and Polish background – he grew up in a Jewish community. As part of Young Europe IV, Pawlicki will write a classroom play about two boys who are friends despite the fact that their cultures are at odds with each other. The inspiration derives from how the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is seeping into the Dutch society and into the heads of children, who start to reenact the conflict in their day-to-day lives - with, as a result, the ‘break up’ of the two friends. The play will focus on the process of reconciliation.

Tomer Pawlicki wrote the classroom play 'Hassan & Moos' as part of the Young Europe IV programme.

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Alex Weenink

Young Europe IV Playwright, Teatru Malta (Malta)

Alex is an actor, creative project manager, and multidisciplinary theatre-maker. He studied Theatre and Drama and Theatre Studies in Malta and at Trinity College Dublin, Ireland. His focus is on creating new work that challenges the form of theatre, is nuanced and confident in its critique of society and other aspects of the human condition and is highly visual and expressive. He has performed in a varied range of theatre productions including devised productions (The Little Prince, After Medea, Dear Pete, and Dripfeed), contemporary plays (Skylight, Pope Joan, From Rona With Love, and KES), Elizabethan plays (The Jew of Malta, The Two Gentlemen of Verona, Macbeth, and Othello), and more. As a writer, he has written the short play SWIPE, the film BEN., and has collaborated with Kurt Gabriel Meli on the bilingual coming-of-age tragicomedy Pastizz x'jaħbat? He has also recently co-founded Chewing Productions and acts as its Artistic Director while working on its upcoming devised productions, A Ritual of Smoke & Mirrors and 3x3.

Alex Weenink co-wrote the classroom play 'Gutz' as part of the Young Europe IV programme.

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Olya Voronkova

Young Europe IV Playwright, Belarus Free Theatre (UK) and Young Vic (UK)

Olya is a Belarusian, London-based video editor, promo producer, TV scriptwriter, and web copywriter. She is a former student of the European Humanities University (Minsk), which was shut down by Lukashenko’s regime due to the institution's opposition to state politics and dedication to human rights and freedom. Olya then relocated to Poland and finished her studies at Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznan, receiving her MA in Educational Media in 2009. After university, Olya returned to Minsk and worked for several Belarusian online magazines and marketplaces as a content creator and copywriter. Alongside her professional life, Olya was an active member of Studio Fortinbras, an education programme founded and managed by Belarus Free Theatre (BFT). She has been learning and practising acting, playwriting, and social activism for two years now.
"I'm deeply and constantly intrigued by human behaviour and psychology. The opportunity to live, study, and work in both democratic and autocratic regimes allowed me to observe differences in mentality and the factors that form it. Nurture, climate, culture, routine, own biochemistry, collective and individual traumas, significant life events, political and social context develop and influence individuals in multiple ways. I feel privileged to study and compare different lifestyles and surprisingly different issues that worry people, depending on the system they grew up and live in. We are the same in our longing for love, validation, and freedom, yet unfortunately, some of us have to struggle hard for this privilege. I'm interested in how suppressed nations find their way to survive, evolve, bring up children, stay firm, but creative, despite the tragic history of their ancestors, often traumatic childhood and schooling experience, and political oppression.".

Olya Voronkova wrote the classroom play 'Lucky' as part of the Young Europe IV programme.

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Patty Kim Hamilton

Young Europe IV Mentor, Poet-playwright, Dramaturg & Performance Artist

Patty Kim Hamilton writes, directs, provides dramaturgy and teaches. Currently, she is playwright in residence at the Deutsches Theater Berlin. Her plays have received many awards and have been performed across Germany, the Uk and Austria. She is represented by Suhrkamp Verlag.

Patty Kim Hamilton is an external mentor to Young Europe IV playwrights Emel Aydoğdu (Emel Aydoğdu, Germany) and Olya Voronkova (Belarus Free Theatre and Young Vic, UK).

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Dounia Mahammed

Young Europe IV Mentor, Writer & Performer

Dounia Mahammed (she/they) graduated from the drama program at KASK (Ghent) in 2015. She describes herself as a queer, searching, writing, and creative performer, with a special love for plants, clay, colour, crows, wood, water, cornstarch (binder!), questions, movement, and being moved. Dounia's work often plays with language and sound, exploring ways of (mis)communicating. It attempts to say something about being human, seeking connection, navigating between wonder and doubt. Loveful activism and starting as a freelance confidant also hold an important place alongside their artistic work.

Dounia Mahammed is an external mentor to Young Europe IV playwrights Kurt Gabriel Meli and Alex Weenink (Teatru Malta, Malta) and Matin Soofipour Omam (Badisches Staatstheater Karlsruhe, Germany).

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Dino Pešut

Young Europe IV Mentor & Dramaturg

Born in 1990 in Sisak, Croatia, Dino Pešut graduated in dramaturgy, playwriting and screenwriting at the Academy of Drama Arts in Zagreb. He worked as a dramaturge in different theatres in Croatia, Slovenia and Serbia. Plays include '(Pen)Ultimate Panda or Static' ('(Pret)Posljednja panda ili statika)', which won the 1st prize Marin Držić from the Ministry of Culture and was premiered in ZKM Zagreb in 2015. The play was invited to the Stückemarkt at Theatertreffen in 2016. The play was awarded the DEUTSCHEN JUGENTHEATERPREIS in 2018. He has won Marin Držić awards for the plays 'Grand Hotel Abyss' (2016), 'Stella, the Flood' (2017), and 'Olympia Stadium' (2018). A book of plays 'Penultimate Panda and Other Plays' was published in 2017 ('Pretposljednja panda i druge drame', Aura Sisak, 2017). In 2018, he published his debut novel 'Stretched Knees' ('Poderana koljena', Fraktura, Zaprešić 2018). Haunting and with a fine sense of irony and dialogue, his most recent novel 'Daddy Issues' tells the story of a young man who is as lost as the future he was promised Dino Pešut's empathetic exploration of the themes of social inequality, class shame and sexuality was a great success with critics and audiences in Croatia and was ranked alongside the works of Édouard Louis and Ocean Vuong. 

Dino Pešut is an external mentor to Young Europe IV playwrights Jaka Smerkolj Simoneti (SNG Nova Gorica, Slovenia) and Tereza Trusinová (Slovak National Drama Theatre, Slovakia).

Friday 19 April 2024

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Teunkie Van Der Sluijs

Head of Artistic Development at Young Vic (UK)

Teunkie Van Der Sluijs is a Dutch-British theatre director, translator of plays, and playwright working predominantly in the United Kingdom and the Netherlands, and sporadically in the United States. Born in the Netherlands in 1981, Van Der Sluijs studied Drama at the University of Amsterdam before studying directing at London's Rose Bruford College and training at the National Film and Television School.

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Nina van Tongeren

Dramaturge at De Toneelmakerij (The Netherlands)

Nina van Tongeren is a playwright and dramaturge with a great love for youth theatre. In 2022 she graduated from the HKU with her thesis Ndumbé en de Wolvenbende (9+) and a thesis on the importance of good representation. In the same year, she wrote for the Toneelmakerij and Urban Myth Naar Ndakaaru Swimming (8+), about how the colonial past continues to affect the present. Nina currently works at the Toneelmakerij as a permanent dramaturge and writes freelance for various companies. For Theater aan de Rijn, in co-production with Theater Sonnevanck and Theater Oostpool, she wrote the class performance K oekoeksnest (10+), about two sisters whose mother sat on the roof one morning. Nina would describe her work as intersectional activist: she strives to write pieces that every child can identify with, and gives extra attention to the children whose stories are not yet told or heard enough.

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Marina Maleni

Theatre Development Officer at Cyprus Theatre Organisation (THOC) and ETC Board Member

Marina Maleni has worked successfully as an actress, TV host and radio music producer for several years. Working since 2001 as Theatre Development Officer for Cyprus Theatre Organisation, she is in charge of State theatre subsidies and policy forming, European collaborations, playwriting development, non-professional theatre, theatre education programmes, festivals, PQ National Participation (Curator since 2007), etc.

Marina Maleni has worked extensively in the Committee for Theatre in Schools (THOC - Ministry of Education and Culture), the Study Committee for the creation of A Cultural Authority in Cyprus, the National Committee for Delphic Games, and has held roles as secretary of CYCSTAT, member of the advisory body of the Cyprus Youth Board, Board member of the Cyprus Theatre Museum. She has coordinated several very successful European culture programme collaborations for Cyprus. Additionally, Marina is the host of a prominent CYBC TV talk show focused on culture.

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Ana Kržišnik

Dramaturg at SNT Drama Ljubljana (Slovenia)

Ana Kržišnik Blažica (1981) graduated from the Faculty of Arts in Ljubljana with a degree in sociology of culture and the Slovene language and literature and then completed a postgraduate study of dramaturgy at AGRFT. As a freelance dramaturge, she has worked for almost all Slovene theatres. She prepares adaptations and dramatizations for radio and theatre, is a language consultant, director of amateur theatre groups, and publishes articles in theatre magazines. In 2009 she was the artistic director of the Jože Pengov Puppet Theater in Ljubljana, and in 2010 she joined the SNG Nova Gorica as a dramaturge, where she works with renowned and young directors on drama, post-drama, dance, and devising theatre.

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Josef Bäcker

Theatre maker, Dramaturge at Staastheater Braunschweig (Germany)

Josef Bäcker plans and designs theatre projects and workshops for children, young people and seniors - in daycare centres, schools, theatres and other third places. He was the project coordinator for political education at the Young Theater in Detmold and organised a festival there and was a production dramaturge. He founded the theatre collective Bäklaba and, together with Lukas Pergande, created: “Koyaanisqatsi”, “Now especially!” and “Industrial Landscape with Retailers” at the Braunschweig Staatstheater. Since the 2022/23 season, he has been a dramaturge for the JUNGES! Braunschweig Staatstheater. What fascinates him about theatre is the liveliness, the momentary, the low threshold and the possibility of bringing stories and perspectives into the world and stimulating discourses that are otherwise overlooked by most of society.

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Mário Drgoňa

Dramaturgy Lecturer at Slovak National Theatre - Drama Ensemble

Mário Drgoňa was born in Trnava. He completed his studies in theatre dramaturgy and dramatic creation at VŠMU. During his studies, he collaborated as a guest playwright or assistant director with several Slovak and Czech theatres, such as the Ján Palárik Theater in Trnava, the Drama Studio in Ústí nad Labem, the Mír Theater in Ostrava, the Old Karol Spišák Theater in Nitra, etc. He has experience as an author and director thanks to his cooperation with Slovak Radio. He is also engaged in the creation of stage music, translation of dramatic texts from English and voice over art. He founded and runs the festival of professional independent theatre Fokus – Pokus. Since April 2020, he has been working at Činohra SND as a dramaturgy lecturer.

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Karin Winkler

Young Ambassador

Karin Winkler is an aspiring young artist who dreamt of standing on stage since her childhood. She fell in love with acting in elementary school and now, at 19 years old, she is in her final year of studying film and theatre in art department of Gimnazija Nova Gorica. However, studying and helping her schoolmates does not stop her from participating in many other art projects. Apart from acting in school plays she is also a part of amateur theatre group AMO in her local theatre SNG Nova Gorica. In her free time, she reads, watches movies, and writes, since her new dream is to study dramaturgy and become a writer. She is known for being very friendly, dedicated, organized and always ready to take on a new challenge.

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Alja Kosič

Young Ambassador

Alja is a 16-year-old girl from a small town in Slovenia. She enjoys acting on stage, that’s why she decided to attend theatre secondary school in Nova Gorica. Her love to perform, began when she started figure skating at the age of 5. After 5 years she wanted to try something new, so she joined her local theatre-KPD Josip Lavtižar. With her team, she has received about 6 awards for all her 4  theatre performances(Rolina006, 2019; Boš lešnik?, 2020/2021; Dinozavrija, 2022; Huda mravlja; 2023). Now she’s slowly and patiently building her career, so that one day she can perform on the biggest Slovenian stages.

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Kristjan Gabrijelčič

Young Ambassador

At just 17, Kristjan Gabrijelčič is diving deep into the world of film and theatre as a dedicated student at Gimnazija Nova Gorica. His love for arts started early, seeing life as a series of scenes or plays waiting to be told. Alongside his passion for storytelling, he also excels in subjects like math, happily helping others with tricky equations. He is always ready for new challenges and projects, putting in the effort to succeed. Despite his dedication, he never forgets to be kind and friendly, trying to spread warmth wherever he goes. With a natural ability to see the world through a creative lens, Kristjan brings positivity and dedication to every endeavour.

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Diana Kržanić Tepavac

President of ASSITEJ Serbia

Diana Kržanić Tepavac graduated from the Faculty of Dramatic Arts, University of Belgrade, Department of Acting. In addition to theatre, TV and film engagements as a professional actress, Diana was involved in the establishment of the first non-institutional theatre and art groups in the former Yugoslavia and was active in interdisciplinary work in performance, video art and art actions. As a theatre pedagogue, founder and artistic director of the Performing & Visual Arts Studio "Step out", she explored the topics of applicability of theatre practice in work for and with teenagers. As the long-term president of ASSITEJ Serbia and a two-term member of the Executive Board of ASSITEJ International, Diana created and realized a large number of programs and projects focused on current topics in TYA, continuously working on its visibility, affirmation and recognition at the local, regional and international level with a special focus on supporting young emerging artists, promoting the principle of inclusion and strengthening national centres in the WB region. She is the Initiator, author of the concept and Program Director of the ASSITEJ Artistic Gathering 2023 "Turning Point", the largest annual gathering of the ASSITEJ network held for the first time in this part of Europe in Serbia in November 2023.

Photo: Tanja Drobnjak

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Niklas Nienaß

Member of European Parliament

Niklas Nienaß is a German politician of the Alliance 90/The Greens who has been serving as a Member of the European Parliament since 2019. In parliament, Nienaß serves on the Committee on Regional Development and the Committee on Culture and Education. Since 2021, he has been part of the parliament's delegation to the Conference on the Future of Europe.

He is also a member of the Spinelli Group, the European Parliament Intergroup on Children’s Rights, the European Parliament Intergroup on Climate Change, Biodiversity and Sustainable Development, the European Parliament Intergroup on Seas, Rivers, Islands and Coastal Areas and the European Parliament Intergroup on LGBT Rights.

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Gilles Doré

Executive Director of CINARS

Since March 2022, Mr. Gilles Doré is the Executive Director of CINARS. Previously he was the Director of International Development for the performing arts. For the past 20 years, Mr. Dore acquired a solid experience in arts management and international development for the arts. Over the years, he has been general manager of Art Circulation a contemporary dance consortium, financial director of Vertigo Dance company, and general manager of the Caserne Letourneux of the Theatre Sans Fil – a centre dedicated to residencies and production. He was also a consultant for the Conseil des Arts et des Lettres du Québec & University of Montreal and for the Art Council of the city of Laval and some music and theatre companies.

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Iris Laufenberg

Artistic Director of Deutsches Theater Berlin (Germany) and ETC Board Vice-President

Iris Laufenberg studied applied theatre studies in Giessen. Since her time as artistic director of the Bonn Biennale festival, one of her focuses has been on new drama, which she has done in her 10-year activity as director of the Theatertreffen of the Berliner Festspiele, among other things with the profiling of the authors' promotion at the Stückemarkt, as well as subsequently expanded as theatre director at the Konzert Theater Bern. At the Schauspielhaus Graz, Iris Laufenberg founded the annual International Playwrights Festival Graz at the beginning of her artistic directorship in 2015, within which, in addition to contemporary drama, the cross-border, content-related understanding of theatre professionals and young talents is promoted. Iris Laufenberg's focus on the thematic and aesthetic possibilities of the public space (city) theatre between local roots and global necessity is reflected in interdisciplinary and cross-genre projects. Iris Laufenberg is involved nationally and throughout Europe in representing the interests of theatre and in the further development of the art form. She is a board member and vice president of the European Theatre Convention. Iris Laufenberg has been artistic director at the Deutsches Theater in Berlin since the 2023/2024 season.

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Susannah Tresilian

Theatre Director, Radio Producer and Coach at The Leadership Collective

Susannah Tresilian is a theatre director and coach based in the UK. Her theatre work specialises in telling entertaining stories that encourage the world in a more positive direction. She has worked for many years with the ETC, directing and assistant directing in theatres in France, Croatia, Norway, UK, Belarus and Cyprus. She was Artistic Director of the ETC Studios for the Nottingham European Arts and Theatre Festivals in the UK. She founded ARIADNE, a network of women making theatre in conflict zones around the world (www.projectariadne.org). She has worked as a prolific radio and audio producer with the BBC and the Guardian, and was a finalist at the BBC Audio Awards for The Music Lesson starring Fiona Shaw. She is a mentor at the Royal Opera House in London. She also runs Envision, a successful coaching and training company working with women at changing points in their lives (www.projectariadne.orgwww.projectariadne.org).

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Irene Moundraki

Head Dramaturg, Head of Archive, Library and International Collaborations Department, National Theatre of Greece and ETC Board Member

Irene Moundraki has obtained a BA, an MA and a PhD in Theatre Studies from the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens (Faculty of Theatre Studies). She also studied Arts at the University of Milan, Italy.
She has worked at the National Theatre of Greece since 1999 as a special artistic collaborator and she is head of Drama, Library, Archive and International Relations Departments.
Irene Moundraki is also a visiting professor at the Departments of Theatre Studies of the Universities of Athens and Peloponnese. She teaches History of Theatre and Dramaturgy at Drama Schools. She taught Theatre in the Army (SAN) for five years and has directed several plays with her students.
She is the founder and head of the Greek Play Project, a dynamic platform in Greek and English for the promotion and study of contemporary Greek theatre.

Saturday 20 April 2024

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Laura Kutkaitė

Winner of the main prize of Fast Forward – European Festival for Young Stage Directors 2022

 Laura Kutkaité is a Lithuanian theatre director. She is the winner of FAST FORWARD 2022 – European Festival for Young Stage Directors in Dresden, participant of THEATERTREFFEN INTERNATIONAL FORUM 2023 (Berliner Festspiele) in Berlin.

Laura Kutkaitė, *1993, studied and graduated in choreography and philosophy before starting to study directing at the Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre, where she graduated in 2021 with a production of Sarah Kane’s PHAEDRA’S LOVE. The production was instantly taken into the repertoire of OKT/Vilnius City Theatre. THE SILENCE OF THE SIRENS is her first work at the Lithuanian National Drama Theatre in Vilnius, it opened the new studio stage there in June 2022 and won an international award and recognition. For her second work THE BREAST OF TIRESIAS (Lithuanian National Drama Theatre) she is being nominated as Best beginner artist in the country. Her latest work JUDITH SHAKESPEARE - RAPE AND REVENGE by Paula Thielecke was just produced by Staatsschauspiel Dresden in March 2024.

Kutkaitė is mainly interested in the topic of the Body, in the fatality of physicality, in bodily interactions on stage. Usually the choreography of her performances is purposefully repetitive as in a ritual. Among her other interests are therefore mythology, gender issues, social exclusion and identity control. Every attempt to create becomes an attempt to understand the screws of patriarchal society and to loosen those screws. Director focuses on creative process: the internal processes of the artistic team are often transferred to the stage making the line between fiction and documentary intentionally blurry. The physical proximity of the actor and the audience is one of the distinguishing marks of the rising artist.

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Salim Djaferi

Winner of Fast Forward Audience Award & Jury Prize 2023

Salim Djaferi, b. 1984, studied Acting at the Royal Conservatory of Liège in Belgium. As an actor and co-author, he has worked in plays by Sanja Mitrovic, Elena Dorassiotto and Benoît Piret, and Adeline Rosenstein. KOULOUNISATION is his first own piece of work for the theatre with which he has toured in Belgium, France and internationally since 2021.

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Serge Rangoni

General Manager & Artistic Director of Théâtre de Liège and ETC Treasurer

Serge Rangoni studied at the Conservatoire of Brussels. After working in various theatre institutions and at the Ministry of Culture, he was designated in 2004 as General Manager of Théâtre de Liège. Under his leadership, the theatre received the titles of “European center of theatrical creation and choreography” and “Centres for Drama” in the French-speaking area of Belgium, affirming its role in theatrical and dance productions and their dissemination to local and international audiences. Since his arrival at its head, the institution has developed considerably, with now an audience of 65,000 and more than 180 performances a season. Théâtre de Liège is today the leading stage in Wallonia.

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Tom Leick-Burns

Artistic Director and General Manager of Les Théâtres de la Ville de Luxembourg (Luxembourg), ETC Board Secretary

Tom Leick-Burns was born in Luxembourg and initially trained as an actor at the Drama Centre, London. Since then, he has appeared in over 20 professional theatre productions, starred in numerous films and was awarded the prestigious Studio Hamburg Shooting Star Award at the Berlin Film Festival in 2004. His career took a different turn when he was approached to work as a freelance production manager for the Grand Théâtre in Luxembourg. Using his knowledge of British theatre and excellent language skills, he was hired to facilitate and look after international projects. Since then, he has been able to work on an eclectic range of theatre, dance and opera productions, using his organisational skills and gaining invaluable experience in project management. With his hands-on approach and indomitable spirit, Tom quickly adjusted to his new role while at the same time taking on new challenges. In 2008, he facilitated the first professional English-language production in Luxembourg and programmed parts of the Grand Théâtre English-language season.

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Lisa Burger

Co-founder and director of Renew Culture/Theatre Green Book, UK

Lisa Burger is one of the UK's most respected strategic leaders in the arts. Until spring 2022 she was Joint Chief Executive and Executive Director of the UK's National Theatre. During the Covid pandemic, she was instrumental in helping develop the UK government's support package for the arts. Lisa co-founded Renew Culture and the Green Book initiative in 2020. She is a Trustee of Historic Royal Palaces and of the Royal Opera House. Lisa's work for the arts has been recognised with a special Olivier award, a CBE and an Honorary Doctorate.

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Paddy Dillon

Co-founder and director of the Renew Culture/Theatre Green Book (UK)

Paddy Dillon is one of the UK’s leading theatre architects. In 2020 he initiated the Theatre Green Book, a project to help theatre-makers work together towards a sustainable future for theatre. The Theatre Green Book is now translated into several languages, and is being used worldwide, including by all the UK’s leading theatres and opera companies. Paddy is chair of the International Theatre Engineering and Architecture Conference. He was deputy chair, then chair of the UK Theatres Trust until 2021.

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