For the 10th anniversary of the Biennale “New Plays from Europe,” we would like to incorporate you into the program planning process a little earlier than usual. I founded this festival 20 years ago in Bonn – and I was able to win over Tankred Dorst for the idea. The first edition subsequently came out in 1992 – that’s 18 years ago now. Back then, Rainer Mennicken was also on board.
“New Plays from Europe” is the world’s largest international festival – or, to be a little more modest: the only large international festival that solely features the works of new authors. Nowadays, there are many festivals out there: for singing, music, the best production, the best performance – but to this day, there have been few international initiatives dedicated exclusively to living authors.
We limit ourselves to authors from Europe – not out of Eurocentrism, but because it would be nearly impossible to conduct serious research otherwise.
This festival is for authors by authors. We make our selection with the help of our so-called “patrons” – renowned playwrights from diverse European countries; we currently have a total of 41 patrons, who assist us by recommending the best, most exciting and most unusual works by their national colleagues.
We then put together our program based on these recommendations.
The festival’s team of artistic directors consists of Manfred Beilharz, Tankred Dorst/Ursula Ehler and, for the first time, Yvonne Büdenhölzer, who previously headed the Stückemarkt at Berlin’s famous Theatertreffen festival. Marie Rötzer is aiding our research efforts from Mainz. And Maya Schöffel has once again assumed a very important position, in which she takes responsibility for research coordination and calling the shots.
Throughout the past few months, the team of artistic directors has traveled approx. 60,000 kilometers across the European continent.
In its 10 editions, the festival has presented about 250 plays by nearly as many European authors; everything was shown in the original language with a simultaneous translation into German. An unimaginable treasure – completely documented in our extensive catalogues.
As for the authors, this festival has been a deciding factor in the making of quite a few international careers: these include Vassily Sigarev, Dejan Dukovski, Jon Fosse, Enda Walsh, Yevgeni Grishkovetz, Werner Schwab, Yasmina Reza, the two recipients of the Premio Europa 2007 Biljana Srbljanovic and Alvis Hermanis, and many more.
Following my move from Bonn to the Staatstheater Wiesbaden, we succeeded in bringing this festival with us to Hessen in 2004. The 2004 edition was held together with the Schauspiel Frankfurt. In 2006, we hosted it alone in Wiesbaden. Just as in 2008, the coming 2010 edition of the festival (from 17-27 June 2010) will take place in cooperation with the Staatstheater Mainz. I am absolutely thrilled that I was able to convince Matthias Fontheim and the state of Rheinland-Pfalz to get involved in this venture.
I sincerely hope that the 2010 edition of the festival turns out to be just as exciting as in the past 10 years. Come be a part of it!
Dr. Manfred Beilharz
Artistic Director of the Theatre-Biennale – New Plays from Europe
Artistic Director of the Hessisches Staatstheater Wiesbaden