EUNIC Washington, the local cluster of the network of European Union National Institutes for Culture, teamed up with the Laboratory for Global Performance and Politics (The Lab) of Georgetown University to bring a European element to CrossCurrents, a citywide biennial performing arts festival in Washington, DC, that highlighted innovative artists from around the world who are harnessing the power of performance to humanize global politics.

This was a life-changing experience; you all did a really big job for the future of this world.

Theater makers from seven EUNIC member states were invited to the US capital, to take part in a European Theater Residency during the CrossCurrents Festival. Philip Ehmann participated for Austria, Natálie Kocábová for the Czech Republic, Alexander Karschnia for Germany, Anna Dora Dorno for Italy, Ana Margineau for Romania, Lucia Miranda for Spain, and Mersiha Mesihovic for Sweden (and Bosnia).

I enjoyed researching topics and dive with my fellow European colleagues into their work and find communalities.

During the European Theater Residency on May 6 and 7, 2019, the seven theater makers addressed, under the artistic leadership of Derek Goldman, stage director and co-founder of The Lab, the role of performance and the arts in bridging divides and countering polarization, while drawing from their respective theater traditions and work experience.

This residency made me realize how little I know about Europe and that I want to find more projects like this and find more people like them.

In preparation of the European Theater Residency, Eva Schöfer, Vice-President of EUNIC Washington and Director of the Austrian Cultural Forum Washington, gave an interview to the EUNIC Global office in Brussels and was asked what she expects from this project. She answered that she thinks that it is great “that we have so many countries taking part in this project.” And added: “I think that does not happen a lot. I love that all these theatre people are coming together […]. I really hope that they will take something home and maybe create some more projects amongst themselves from their different backgrounds. […] I also think it is going to be an interesting experience for the European artists together with the American public here to get an idea of how this intercultural exchange is going to work.”

“This residency and this Lab: Wow, wow, wow – connections, connections, connections, it gets under your skin.”

In retrospective, this residency gave the participating European artists just that: They had the possibility to get a week away from their daily work routine, to connect with each other, learn new things, take time to reflect about their own work and take important inspiration back home for their future work. 

This was a radical idea to get us all together to share our practice and our thoughts, in times of separation, sharing is radical.

On the evening of May 6, the European artists took part in a public “Meet & Greet” discussion at the House of Sweden, in cooperation with the seven participating EUNIC members. After introductory words by the Cultural Counselor of Sweden Linda Zachrison, the Deputy EU Ambassador Caroline Vicini and the EUNIC Washington Vice-President Eva Schöfer, the artists participated in a panel discussion moderated by Derek Goldman. During the discussion the artists shared their personal experience in collaborative theater making and explained how they address pressing social and political topics in their work.

During “The Gathering”, which took place as a culmination of the CrossCurrents Festival from May 8 to 11, the seven European artists were joined by more than 150 other artists, visionary policymakers, activists, and scholars from over 40 countries for inspiring productions, discussions, pop-up performances, and workshops.

Artists are special policy makers and this was particularly special here at The Lab, at Georgetown University, with this unique combination of theater and politics.

On May 10, as part of “The Gathering”, the artists showcased an excerpt of their work and their workshop to the other participants of the summit at Georgetown University. Through the so-called collaborative method of a public “roundtable discussion” (inspired by Lois Weaver’s Long Table), the artists engaged the audience in a discussion about democracy through innovative means of “sitting at and leaving a dinner table”. The European Afternoon was accompanied by the performance of the Czech band “Vladivojna La Chia & 4 Trio”.

This residency made me realize: we are not alone as artists, we are part of the same community.

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EUNIC - European Union National Institutes for Culture is Europe’s network of national cultural institutes, with 36 members from all 28 EU member states. EUNIC members join together in over 100 clusters worldwide to collaborate on common projects. EUNIC’s mission is to build trust and understanding between the peoples of Europe and the rest of the world through culture. The EUNIC Cluster Washington exists since 2012 and has 15 full and 2 associated members. Its vision is to act as European cultural ambassadors in the US, in particular the DC Metro area, promote Europe`s cultural diversity and provide space for transnational dialogue and exchange through cultural means.

Learn more about EUNIC

To learn more about CrossCurrents

Video credits | Michaela Farrell
Photo credits | C. Stanley Photography, Manaf Azzam, Michaela Farrell & ACF Washintgton