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Group photo with all Young Europe IV participants

Jaka Smerkolj Simoneti

 Working with 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, will be produced by the national radio in 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.

External mentor: Dino Pešut  

Matin Soofipour Omam

Working with 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'.

External mentor: Dounia Mahammed 

Tereza Trusinová

Working with Slovak National Drama Theatre (Bratislava/Slovakia)

Tereza is a first-year master's student of 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. 

External mentor: Dino Pešut 
 

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From the left to right: Kurt Gabriel Meli and Alex Weenink

Emel Aydoğdu

Working with Junges! Staatstheater Braunschweig (Germany)

Emel was born in Gaziantep, Turkey in 1990 and is an Alevi-Kurdish theater 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 2 and over.

External mentor: Patty Kim Hamilton 

Olya Voronkova

Working with Belarus Free Theatre (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 practicing 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 finds its way to survive, evolve, bring up children, stay firm, but creative, despite tragic history of their ancestors, often traumatic childhood and schooling experience, and political oppression.".

External mentor: Patty Kim Hamilton 

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From the left to right: Kiki Argyrou (Dramaturg) and Zoe Apostolidou (Playwright)

Tomer Pawlicki 

Working with De Toneelmakerij (Amsterdam/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.

External mentor: Mohammad Al Attar 

Zoe Apostolidou

THOC 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. 
External mentor: Mohammad Al Attar 

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From left to right: Jaka Smerkolj Simoneti, Tereza Trusinová and Emel Aydoğdu

Alex Weenink

Working with 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.

External mentor: Dounia Mahammed

Kurt Gabriel Meli

Working with 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.

External mentor: Dounia Mahammed

Photo Credits ©Jan Hromadko

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