Continuing along its international pathway of contact with different cultures and countries in the perspective of theatre as a primary place of meeting and exchange, the Europe Theatre Prize has now arrived in St. Petersburg. While the edition of 2011 will thus be held with the support and patronage of the Russian government through its Ministry of Culture and the City Council of St. Petersburg, the Baltic International Festival Centre and the Baltic House Theatre have undertaken to host, finance and organize the events in St. Petersburg.
Many geographic and political scenarios have changed in the space of a few decades and we can say today that Europe is a more concrete reality. The peoples inhabiting our continent can communicate far more quickly, perhaps also due to the Internet and the social networks, which have made daily cultural contact and the exchange of ideas possible in real time.
The 14th edition of the Europe Theatre Prize offers a rich programme of conferences, performances, previews and significant moments of cultural exchange, not least because St. Petersburg and Russia have always been synonymous with a great theatrical and literary tradition known all over the world through the stories and characters of writers like Dostoyevsky, Chekhov, Tolstoy and Gogol, to name just a few. Given this basis, the stature of the prize-winners and the high quality of the productions and meetings, I am confident that this edition will be able to provide numerous opportunities for dialogue and the exchange of ideas.
Within such a lively atmosphere, those receiving awards at this year’s edition will make an important contribution to the event through their performances and talks.
The award of the 14th Europe Theatre Prize to Peter Stein, the creator of monumental productions often staged in unusual spaces, celebrates the career of one of the most important figures of German and European theatre in the second half of the 20th century. It was in 1970 that Stein took over the Schaubühne company in Berlin, including exceptional actors like Bruno Ganz and Edith Clever, and their transgressive productions revolutionized the structure of theatrical and scenic space. Attention can be drawn in this connection to the memorable productions of the Oresteia (1980), a Russian edition of which was created in 1993 with the Red Army company, and the monumental Faust with Bruno Ganz for the Hanover Expo of 2000. No less importance attaches to Stein’s most recent productions, namely Dostoyevsky’s Devils (2009), with Italian actors and Maddalena Crippa in the role of Varvara Petrovna Stavrogin, and Oedipus at Colonus, with Klaus Maria Brandauer, presented at the Salzburg Festival in 2010. The tribute to the German director will comprise two performances, first The Broken Jug by Heinrich von Kleist with Klaus Maria Brandauer and the Berliner Ensemble and then, after the award ceremony, Faust Fantasia after Goethe, a suite for piano and voice with Stein himself accompanied by Arturo Annecchino. There will also be a conference and a meeting with the director.
As regards the12th Europe Prize Theatrical Realities (EPTR), over 50 international artists were selected as candidates by the panel of approximately 400 experts on European theatre and the members of the Jury during the preliminary phase. The Jury’s choice then fell on artists regarded as corresponding perfectly the requisites stated in article 3 of the regulations: “As specified by the EPTR Jury in the 2nd edition, the prize is to be understood as an opportunity for meeting and the exchange of ideas between different expressions of the new European theatre.”
The 12th Europe Prize Theatrical Realities will be awarded to the following artists (in alphabetical order): Viliam Dočolomanský, candidate since 2008 (Slovakia/Czech Republic), Katie Mitchell, candidate since 1999 (United Kingdom), Andrey Moguchiy, candidate since 2008 (Russia), Kristian Smeds, candidate since 2001 (Finland), Teatro Meridional, candidate since 2007 (Portugal) and Vesturport Theatre, candidate since 2007 (Iceland).
After the careful preliminary work of examining and assessing the candidates for the Europe Prize Theatrical Realities, the Jury’s choice also fell upon geographical areas that had never previously received the awards, thus opening up a new phase for the EPTR in accordance with the wishes expressed at its previous meeting.
As regards this year’s rich programme, Viliam Dočolomanský, a creative talent of contemporary theatre and dance, will be staging The Theatre, one of his most characteristic works, and The Journey, a “small collection” of his most innovative pieces, which will end with a world preview in the shape of an extract from his new production Girlfriends.
Andrey Moguchiy will be greeting visitors to his hometown of St Petersburg with Blue Bird, his highly poetic and eagerly awaited new work.
The Finnish director Kristian Smeds will present an international preview of his latest work Mr Vertigo, based on the novel by Paul Auster and produced by the National Theatre of Finland.
The contribution of Teatro Meridional will comprise an international preview of its latest work 1974, inspired by Portugal’s Carnation Revolution and produced by the Teatro Nacional Doña Maria II of Lisbon, Cabo Verde, one of its most significant repertory pieces, and The Specialists, a work in progress presented here as a world preview.
The Vesturport Theatre company will present its “cult” production of Kafka’s Metamorphosis and an international preview of its latest work, Goethe’s Faust. The music for both performances is composed by the renowned team of Nick Cave and Warren Ellis.
The tribute to the award winners of the Theatrical Realities section will also include conferences and meetings.
There is also a Special Prize for figures displaying particular commitment in combining their own cultural and/or political experience at the highest level with the European ideals and those of peace and coexistence between peoples. Previous winners include Melina Mercouri in the 1st edition of the Europe Theatre Prize and Vaclav Havel in the 6th. The Jury of the 14th edition unanimously awarded this to the legendary Russian director Yuri Petrovich Lyubimov for his unquestionable artistic stature and the crucial role that he and the Taganka Theatre played in the delicate phase of perestroika marking the transition from the Soviet Union to contemporary Russia. The tribute to the Russian director will comprise a performance based on the poem Honey by Tonino Guerra, his latest production, and a meeting with critics and the audience.
Lev Dodin, the winner of the 8th Europe Theatre Prize, will present his new production of Chekhov’s Three Sisters in the Returns section, which features the new creations of previous award winners in order to trace their artistic evolution over the years and provide an opportunity for comparison and the exchange of ideas.
The Russian Accent/St Petersburg Performances section hosts three works selected by the Baltic House Theatre, namely Your Gogol, directed by Valery Fokin, Daniel Stein, Translator, directed by Andrzey Buben, and Moscow-Petushki, directed by Andrey Zholdak. There will also be a conference on St. Petersburg’s cultural policy in the European context.
As usual, there will also be a number of the parallel events, including the general meeting of the Union of the Theatres of Europe, an associate organization and supporter of the Europe Prize, which will include the presentation of Permeability: Projects 10–12. The other meetings of associated bodies will include the Executive Committee of the International Association of Theatre Critics, which will also be holding the Seminar of Young Critics and the meeting of the editorial board of The Critical Stages, the Executive Committee of ITI UNESCO, the International Institute of Mediterranean Theatre, the Team Network and the Board of Directors of the Italian Association of Theatre Critics. It is my pleasure to announce that this year the Europe Prize will also host the first meeting of the newly founded Union of European Theatre Schools and Academies, a project sketched out by the Europe Theatre Prize and the Silvio D’Amico National Academy of Dramatic Art in the previous editions. It is to be hoped that the plans will take concrete shape this year.
I wish to thank Valentina Matviyenko, the Governor of St. Petersburg, whose great political determination was a key factor for the holding of the 14th edition of the Europe Theatre Prize in her city. I also thank Anton Gubankov, Director of the St. Petersburg Department of Culture, who has always been an enthusiastic supporter of the Europe Theatre Prize project.
Many thanks to the Russian Minister of Culture Alexander Avdeed for his concrete assistance in organizing the event in Russia and to Mikhail Shvydkoy, Special Representative of the President of the Russian Federation for International Cultural Cooperation. I remember with great pleasure when he, as the then Russian Minister of Culture – during the memorable Prize edition in Taormina dedicated to Lev Dodin – awarded me with the Pushkin Medal.
I also wish to express my deep gratitude to Sergey Shub, General Director of the Baltic House Theatre and a long-time supporter of plans to hold an edition of the Europe Theatre Prize in Russia. We are most grateful to him and the personnel of the Baltic House Theatre for their warm welcome and helpful assistance.
I also thank the Portuguese Ministry of Culture and the Teatro Nacional Doña Maria II of Lisbona for their support.
The Europe Theatre Prize is now established as a primary meeting place for a numerous public made up of journalists and theatre critics, directors of theatres and festivals, artists, professionals of the stage and students of European universities academies and schools of theatre. The countless requests to participate received this year too provide the most concrete evidence of how the Europe Theatre Prize has developed over the years. We take great pride in this growth and wish to thank each and every one of the guests who have come from all over the world with great enthusiasm to attend the various editions of the event in its tour of Europe.
Finally, I wish to thank the Jury, the Board and the personnel of the Europe Theatre Prize for their commitment and enthusiasm as well as all those who have continued over the years to believe in the idea of the Europe Prize and in the Europe “of beautiful things, of human things, of things that regard the theatre just like any other activity of the human spirit”. These words were used by Giorgio Strehler in his speech on receiving the 3rd Europe Theatre Prize, which also looked forward to close collaboration in the future with the Union of the Theatres of Europe.
General Secretary of the Europe Theatre Prize