22 European Theatres Imagine the ‘Renaissance’ of Theatre in a Major New Series of Short Films

20 April 2021
  • 250 European artists and creatives involved in the Renaissance project
  • The series comprises 22 film-quality videos from 22 major theatres across 18 European countries – all of which are part of the European Theatre Convention (ETC) network of theatres
  • One video released free to watch every weekday from 9 May 2021 - 4 June 2021

Leading European theatres have joined together to reflect on the realities of pandemic living and the potential for the ‘rebirth’ of theatre in a brand-new series of free-to-watch short films.

Renaissance, a project coordinated by the European Theatre Convention, sees 22 theatres from 18 European countries each write and produce a five-minute short film that responds to the dramatic prompt of ‘Renaissance’.

The Renaissance was an explosion of creativity after the ‘dark and diseased’ Middle Ages—a complex and uneven celebration of beauty, wisdom, science, and architecture. It was time of dramatic changes, of upheavals, of brutal ruptures with societal patterns. It was also a time that led to a shift in European thought and introduced a new Zeitgeist.

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Here, ‘Renaissance’ also stands for the rebirth of theatre(s) in the virtual space after a year of living with the pandemic. The participating European theatres have tested and unveiled new texts and formats, devising work for the digital stage, and developing digital dramaturgies.

250 artists and creatives were involved in creating the Renaissance films, which will launch on Europe Day (9 May 2021). They include:

  • A desperate plea for theatre from a court jester in a gas mask (Göteborgs Stadsteater / Backa Teater, Sweden)
  • A fantastical adventure through the beautiful stone streets of Malta (Teatru Malta, Malta)
  • A pandemic-inspired fever dream, with a terrifying quest to find theatre’s beating heart (National Theatre Prague, Czech Republic)
  • Live worms (Schauspielhaus Graz, Austria)
  • A shadow-puppet dragon (Divadlo Jána Palárika, Slovakia)
  • Split-screen Shakespeare, with music by renowned ‘ethno-chaos’ band DakhaBrakha (Dakh Theatre – Centre of Contemporary Arts, Ukraine)
  • A high-speed sketch about the hope for theatre’s future, based on comments by Instagram users (Staatsschauspiel Dresden, Germany)
  • And Baldrik, the dog. (Cyprus Theatre Organisation THOC, Cyprus)

The full list of participating theatres is available below. You can see images and video descriptions for all 22 films included in the project here.

The Renaissance short films have been supported with funding from the European Theatre Convention (ETC), the largest network of publicly funded theatres in Europe, and the Creative Europe programme of the European Commission.

The project will launch on Europe Day, Sunday 9 May 2021, when all 22 of the videos will be able to be seen for a limited time-period on the ETC website.

After this, one video will be released each weekday, from Monday 10 May until Friday 4 June. They will be joined by accompanying background information and explanatory interviews. The videos will be free to watch across ETC social media channels and on participatory theatre websites, from the moment of their release onwards. A full timeline is available below.

Speaking about Renaissance, ETC Executive Director Heidi Wiley said:

“At the heart of our work as the European Theatre Convention is international artistic collaboration. But with borders closed, and international travel impossible, with limited or no audiences able to enter our theatre halls, we wanted to find a new way for our member theatres to continue to make work together – from a safe distance, and to present and promote their works to wider audiences.

“The result is Renaissance, a major project tying together 22 distinct approaches to the ‘rebirth’ of European theatres from 18 countries around the continent. We were inspired by the historical period of the Renaissance, which was a complex and uneven explosion of creativity after the worst pandemic in human history.

“We’re so proud to be able to present the short films from our member theatres, who have produced thoughtful, beautiful and challenging films with a wide variety of styles and artistic influences. We hope you enjoy the journey and join us as we witness the Renaissance of theatres together!”

Barbara Gessler, Head of Unit Creative Europe - European Commission & Directorate General - Education and Culture, said:

“It is crucial for theatres in Europe to be able to reopen again soon, to collaborate across borders and reconnect with their audiences locally and internationally. ETC's Renaissance project is a strong signal in this regard for theatres in Europe. It gives hope for overcoming the pandemic - and expanding activity onto the digital stage - so that theatre can remain what it has been for the last 2000 years: an avant-garde art form, connecting people and bringing forward-thinking visions to life.”

Serge Rangoni, ETC President and Artistic Director and General Manager of Théâtre de Liège, Belgium, said:

“This is a wonderful and impressive display of artistic diversity from leading theatres in Europe. Together, they have built a strong image of what rebirth could mean for theatre as we look beyond the pandemic.

“With the vaccines rolling out across Europe, we have now reached a point at which we can start thinking about the future for theatre and for reopening safely with our communities. We’re excited to go on this Renaissance journey together.”

Journalists are invited to attend a press conference on 28 April at 11:00 – 11:30 CET, which will provide additional details about Renaissance, opportunities to interview, and comment from Heidi Wiley, Barbara Gessler and Serge Rangoni. Please sign up using this form to attend.

The Renaissance project will count down to the Week of New European Drama, a week-long programme of artistic activities from 7 – 13 June organised by the European Theatre Convention. This will include the Young Europe festival, To:gather, a showcase of original work for young audiences; participatory Zoom readings of new writing translated into English for the first time; and the biannual ETC International Theatre Conference – this year hosted in partnership with Schauspielhaus Graz, alongside their Dramatikerinnen Festival.


- ENDS -

Press contact

See the full press kit here.

For interviews and additional information, please contact:

Christy Romer, ETC Communication Manager  

Full List of Participating Theatres

  • Albania National Theatre of Albania
  • Austria Schauspielhaus Graz
  • Austria Volkstheater Wien
  • Belgium Théâtre de Liège
  • Croatia Croatian National Theatre in Zagreb
  • Cyprus Cyprus Theatre Organisation THOC
  • Czech Republic Národní divadlo – National Theatre Prague
  • France La Mousson d'Eté
  • Germany Staatsschauspiel Dresden
  • Hungary Pesti Magyar Színház
  • Italy Fondazione Teatro Due
  • Italy Teatro Stabile di Torino – National Theatre
  • Luxembourg Les Théâtres de la Ville de Luxembourg
  • Malta Teatru Malta
  • Poland JK Opole Theatre
  • Serbia National Theatre Belgrade
  • Slovakia Divadlo Jána Palárika v Trnave
  • Slovakia Slovak National Drama
  • Slovenia Slovensko Narodno Gledališče Nova Gorica
  • Sweden Göteborgs Stadsteater - Backa Teater
  • Ukraine Dakh Theatre – Centre of Contemporary Arts
  • Ukraine Kyiv National Academic Molodyy Theatre

See social media accounts and logos for participating theatres

Renaissance timeline

Wednesday 28 April, 11:00 – 11:30 CET: Press Conference announcing Renaissance, including comment from Heidi Wiley, ETC Executive Director; Serge Rangoni, ETC President; and Barbara Gessler, Head of Unit Creative Europe. Sign up using this form to attend.

Sunday 9 May (Europe Day): Project launch date. ALL videos will be available to watch for a limited timed on the ETC website, from 00:00 until 23:59 CET.

After this date, one video will be released each week day, and available to view from its release date onwards on the ETC website, the theatre website, and on social media.

See the full release calendar, with release dates for each participating theatre.

About ETC

Founded in 1988, the European Theatre Convention (ETC) is the largest network of public theatres in Europe. It is an arts organisation that promotes European theatre as a vital platform for dialogue, democracy and interaction that responds to, reflects and engages with today’s diverse audiences and changing societies. ETC’s programme of grants and events support networking, professional development and artistic collaborations for theatre staff across Europe — championing theatre as a key European art form for the 21st century.

ETC has 44 member theatres from more than 25 countries and is supported by the Creative Europe Programme of the European Union.


22 European Theatres Imagine the ‘Renaissance’ of Theatre in a Major New Series of Short Films

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