Six major theatrical organisations from six different nations have joined together around the project Prospero with the aim of helping to build up art and culture across Europe. Working on the principle of »One city, one theatre, one school«, they are bringing together their different artistic leanings, uniting their production resources, their shared heritage and their individual particularities to achieve this ambitious theatrical act: a cultural cooperation agreement (2008-2012) for European development of artistic creation, implementation of European theoretical research and European training of young actors. They will be able to do far more together than they would apart, drawing on the resources of artists, who for centuries have been great travellers, citizens of Europe and ambassadors for humanity.

Six cities, one project, the theatre in common

A five-year European cultural cooperation agreement

Culture is a driving force for society; the cultural dimension should be an essential component of European construction, a major movement for unification in Europe and not only necessary but desirable. Artists are – as the Renaissance proved – ambassadors of humanity; they can work with many taboo issues and participate in building a Europe of art and culture that is democratic, social and open to other countries.

Some major decision-makers, ultra-liberal managers, certain communicators and other sociologists aspire to pronouncing the death of the living performance, like the languages that are no longer spoken. But this sort of pronouncement does not take into account the vigour of the theatre scene in Europe which has every intention of becoming part of a policy based on »the thriving cultures of the European Union Member States» which both respects their diversity and highlights their common heritage.

The directors of six establishments have decided to unite their strengths to develop their work on a European level and launch new artistic and cultural cooperation.

The Théâtre National de Bretagne (Rennes - France,, leader of the European project, the Théâtre de la Place (Liège – Belgium,, Emilia Romagna Teatro Fondazione (Modena – Italy,, the Schaubühne (Berlin – Germany), the Centro Cultural de Belém (Lisbon – Portugal, and the Tutkivan Teatterityön Keskus (Tampere – Finland, are uniting to develop the idea through the mobility of actors and cultural operatives and to increase the diffusion of their work. This cooperation is extended to partnerships with Lestonia (the Théâtre de Riga, artistic director Alvis Hermanis) and Poland (with the director Krzysztof Warlikowski).

The directors of these institutions are bringing together their project support capabilities in order to establish a cultural cooperation agreement for the development of European creativity, and of European research and training.

This project, which is to last 5 years (2008-2012), is named Prospero.

Prospero is the fruit of two years of work and discussions between the member institutions. However, the institutions already shared links and common ground before the creation of the network: several of the directors of the six founding establishments know each other well, most have already worked together. They all share a desire for a concerted joint effort.

The Théâtre National de Bretagne (TNB) hosted La Societas Rafaëllo Sanzio directed by Romeo Castellucci and co-produced by the Emilia Romagna Teatro Fondazione: who in turn co-produced the Motus company, supported by the Emilia Romagna Teatro Fondazione, for L’Ospite based on Teorema by Pasolini. It also hosted six productions from the Schaubühne: Disco pigs by Enda Walsh, Feuergesicht by Marius Von Mayenburg, Nora and Hedda Gabler by Henrik Ibsen, Anéantis by Sarah Kane and Unter Eis by Falk Richter.

> Emilia Romagna Teatro Fondazione hosted the TNB production Jardineria Humana, by Rodrigo Garcia, an author and director invited by the Théâtre de Liège as part of the Ecole des Maîtres programme. Modena and Liège have also worked together, notably on Faust by Eimuntas Nekrosius and Questo Buio Feroce de Pippo Delbono. The ERT also regularly hosts productions from Tampere. > The Théâtre de la Place in Liège hosted Long Life by Alvis Hermanis and Dibbouk in the production by Krzysztof Warlikowski, whose next creation – l’Orestie – will be co-produced by Liège and presented at the Avignon Festival 2009.

> Several of these artists have presented their productions at the Centro Cultural de Belém, which also worked with the Théâtre de la Place in Liège on the Thierry Salmon Project, the Nouvelle Ecole des Maîtres (2004-2006).

> The Emilia Romagna Teatro Fondazione, the Théâtre de la Place, the Théâtre National de Bretagne and the Centro Cultural de Belém are members of IRIS, the South European association for contemporary creation.

Prospero includes three types of action:

a) Developing creativity in Europe
• The annual production and tour of a major production by a director in residence in one of the countries concerned. The Théâtre National de Bretagne inaugurated this aspect of the project with Henrik Ibsen’s John Gabriel Borkman directed by Thomas Ostermeier during his residency at the TNB in Rennes.
• The annual support for productions by directors or associates. The Emilia Romagna Teatro Fondazione (Modena-Italy) inaugurates this action with La Menzogna by Pippo Delbono, in Modena on 3 December.
• Support for six young directors chosen by the six establishments, with courses and residencies in the partner countries. The Théâtre de la Place in Liège is inaugurating this support with S.P.R.L. by Jean-Benoît Ugeux.

b) Establishing European research

c) Training young actors

Prospero intends to demonstrate that art and culture are a powerful force for European edification, a factor of creativity, dialogue and cohesion.
Through its circulation, the numerous encounters with audiences from different countries and the dialogue between art and culture professionals, researchers and politicians, this cooperation agreement is a concrete manifestation of community spirit and shows Europe in action, involved in creation, committed to research and to diffusion.