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

Thursday 18 April 2024


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.


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.


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.


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.


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)


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.


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 Coordinator 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, youth empowerment and women’s rights. 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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


Mohammad Al Attar

Young Europe IV Mentor, Playwright & Dramaturg

Mohammad is a Syrian playwright and Dramaturge. He studied English Literature at Damascus University and Theatrical Studies at the Higher Institute for Dramatic Arts in Damascus. He has a Masters in Applied Drama from Goldsmiths, University of London. His work takes place on the boundary between fiction and documentation and has been translated and staged at various international theatres and festivals. The list of his work includes plays like: 'Withdrawal', 'Could You Please Look into the Camera?', 'Antigone of Shatila', 'While I Was Waiting', 'Aleppo. A portrait of Absence', 'Iphigenia', 'The Factory', and 'Damascus 2045'. Al Attar has written for numerous magazines and newspapers, with a special focus on the Syrian context since 2011. He is currently a fellow at Wissenschaftskolleg zum Berlin (The Institute for Advanced Study in Berlin).

Mohammad Al Attar is an external mentor to Young Europe IV playwrights Tomer Pawlicki (De Toneelmakerij, The Netherlands) and Zoe Apostolidou (Cyprus Theatre Organisation, Cyprus).


Patty Kim Hamilton

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

Patty is a poet-playwright, dramaturg, director and performance artist, currently in her master's in Playwriting at the University of the Arts in Berlin. Her Play, ‘’Peeling Oranges’’ (developed as Playwright in Residence at the Shakespeare Academy Stratford and through the Bechdel Group) is the recipient of the Heidelberger Stückemarkt 2021 Radio Play Prize (produced through the SWR2), amongst other nominations and mentions. Her work exists at the intersection of the intimate and the political - meditating on bodies, language and memory. She is a graduate of Stanford University where she received a Bachelors in Theater and Performance Studies with Honors and the Sherifa Omade Edoga Prize for Work Addressing Social Issues.

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).


Dounia Mahammed

Young Europe IV Mentor, Writer & Performer

Dounia graduated from the Drama Department at the KASK in Ghent in 2015. Her work displays an exceptional sensitivity to language, humour and a visual way of thinking. In her graduation production, Salut Copain, Dounia uses language as a medium in which to philosophise, dream, draw, hesitate and question on stage. In w a t e r w a s w a s s e r she discovers a new way of communicating in which her fanciful associations and movements conduct a poetic dialogue with Alan Van Rompuy’s music. De Standaard awarded the show five stars: “Mahammed’s gift for language, sound and rhythm makes the banal special and the stale fresh.” Alan and Dounia will continue working together in their new creation, GALM.
Dounia is particularly interested in social issues, philosophical reflections and the poetry of everyday things. Her work is intended to tell us something about mankind and being human, and swings from wonder to despair. While a student, she created the play Woudwachten (2014) with visitors to Villa Voortman (an open house for people with a dual diagnosis) in Ghent. She had previously worked with Silke Huysmans on Manger de l’O (2013), with Mira Bryssinck on Usotroop (2014) and with Anjana Dierckx and Lukas Smolders on Schaduwmensen (2013). In August 2016, she won the Young Theatre Writing Prize at Theater aan Zee in Ostend.
Dounia is currently writing the text for Ophelia, a production by Inne Goris in collaboration with LOD, Opera Ballet Vlaanderen & Het Paleis. She was also asked to perform in the new creation of Tibaldus and Simon D’Huyvetter.  

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).


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


Georg Häusler

Director for Culture, Creativity and Sport at the European Commission

Prior to being appointed as Director for Culture, Creativity and Sport in the European Commission (DG EAC), Georg Häusler was Director in another Commission department for seven years. He joined the Commission in 1999 and has had several senior posts including as Head of Cabinet of Commissioner Dacian Ciolos, from 2009 to 2014. Before he began his Commission career, he was Secretary General of an EU-wide NGO. He studied law (PhD in 1993).


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.


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.


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.


Ana Kržišnik

Dramaturg at SNT Drama Ljubljana (Slovenia)


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.


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.


Susannah Tresilian

Theatre Director, Radio Producer and Coach at The Leadership Collective

SSusannah 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 ETC theatres such as Comédie de Saint-Etienne (France), ZKM (Croatia), Det Norske Teatret (Norway), Nottingham Playhouse (UK), Belarus Free Theatre (Belarus) and THOC (Cyprus).  She directed two Young Europe plays: The Island, UK/Norway and My Mother Medea, Cyprus.  She was a UK Ambassador for the European Spring Theatre Tour in 2013.  She ran the Studios for the NEAT (Nottingham European Arts and Theatre) Festivals in the UK, directing readings from over twelve countries. She founded ARIADNE, a network of women making theatre in conflict zones around the world (www.projectariadne.org) which works in Sri Lanka, Rwanda, Serbia, Burundi and Palestine.  She has worked as a prolific radio and audio producer with BBC Radio 4 (Woman’s Hour), BBC World Service (Arts Hour), and the Guardian (Books podcast).  She was a finalist for Best Play at the BBC Audio Awards for The Music Lesson, a radio drama she directed starring Fiona Shaw.  She was an Associate on the Jette Parker programme for directors 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.envision-coaching.com).

Saturday 20 April 2024


Laura Kutkaitė

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

Laura Kutkaitė, born 1993, is a Lithuanian theatre director. She graduated in Choreography and Philosophy before studying Directing at the Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre. Her first work at the Lithuanian National Drama Theatre, “The Silence of the Sirens”, mixed mythology with documentary stories from actresses abused during creative processes. With it, she has won the main prize of Fast Forward – European Festival for Young Stage Directors 2022.
Her emerging voice reflects body, gender, social exclusion and identity control. Viewing feminism as intellectual commitment, every creation becomes an attempt to loosen the screws of patriarchy and empower women. She values vulnerability and focuses on creative process: the internal processes are often transferred on stage making the line between fiction and documentary intentionally blurry.


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.


Lotta Lekvall

CEO of Folkteatern Göteborg (Sweden)


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.


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.


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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