All over Europe, underneath our feet or above the ground, circulates the life blood of our economy and lifestyle: oil and natural gas. Those substances pulse through the veins of pipelines, constantly satisfying our hunger for energy; from Tartastan in Russia to Warsaw, Budapest, and Prague; from Trieste to Vienna and Karlsruhe; from Marseille to Strasbourg and so on. With a complex infrastructure raw oil and natural gas are transported from European shipping ports by rail, roads or rivers to the big inland refineries.

And in the opposite direction, money for the liquid gold is flowing back to the Gulf of Persia and to the OPEC countries. Only at the peak of the Corona crisis on 20 April 2020 this circuit stopped for a moment and the oil price dropped to under zero.

Oil and natural gas are still undebated fuels of the modern spirit: road networks, shopping malls, suburban districts, nylons, airplanes, lipstick or plastic garbage – nothing of this would exist without them. Those substances have truly shaped our life. And they have been and still are a political issue with a tremendous amount and constant danger of exploding and causing hazardous situations.

Oil as a fossil resource comes from the depth of time, is the elixir of our present age, and threatens more and more our future. There is a growing wish to end the 100 year old oil rush. How can we sustain our lifestyle that is based on the excessive use of energy? The answer has yet to be found.

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An ETC project in many languages and different aspects, connected by the same topic.

Inspired by an idea for a play from the Austrian author Magdalena Schrefel, Schauspielhaus Graz invited ETC members to participate in a joint project, in which a local author was commissioned to write a dramatic text dealing with the question “Which kind of drama does fossil energy provoke in your country?”

Every place of the project finds its own stories to tell about oil. In terms of content different perspectives of the topic are complementing each other. The big picture is created from various small images that represent local themes. European collaboration and political engagement foster visibility for a burning issue and show that common problems can only be solved when working together: a network of communication circulates words instead of oil and draws energy rather from cultural exchange then from fossil fuel. Participating theatres are invited to reflect their own need of energy and encouraged to experiment artistically or organizationally with energy neutrality.



15 March 2021: Nomination of the project partners by ETC drama committee and official start of the writing process for the authors

8-12 June 2021: Gathering of all participating theatres and invitation of their authors to Graz, Austria, during the ETC conference / International Playwright’s Festival for input, exchange and inspiration, excursion to the OPEC in Vienna and to the oil refinery in Schwechat near Vienna

Season 21/22

Presentations of the full length plays in the participating theatres (in which way project partners decide themselves)

Eventually invitation of staged plays as guest performances for the Graz International Playwright’s festival in June 2022

Eventually publication of the plays in English

Distribution of the plays to German publishing houses

Support from ETC

Support of five project partners with a grant of €2,000 for commissioning a play and having it translated into English.

Cover of travel expenses and accommodation for five authors to come to the playwright’s festival in Graz 2021 and 2022. Note that this support is for ETC Members only.


For any question about the application process, contact Hélène Gauthier ( at ETC.

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