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Matthieu Bellon-Leloup: 5 tips for international collaboration

Matthieu Bellon-Leloup
Matthieu Bellon-Leloup
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Matthieu Bellon-Leloup is a French-born, Brighton-based theatre director who teaches at Rose Bruford College of Theatre and Performance. He and the company Bred in the Bone are staging a “made in Britain” festival of emergent European theatre, Dreams Before Dawn, in central Paris from July 11-16. Sixteen nationalities will be represented.

1. Go abroad and meet people

It is important to meet people where they work rather than when they’re visiting another country. It helps you to understand the cultures that you’re working with. If you don’t do this, it’s not equal collaboration.

2. Study the business aspect

Theatre production systems vary enormously between countries. In France, for example, actors are paid much more but there’s less money for other aspects of production. In the UK, it’s usually the other way around. And countries outside Europe often operate in a completely different way. You need to be fully clued-up on how production works in any country you’re working with.

3. Work with the EU

The European Union has a highly developed system of awarding money for theatre projects. It’s a supranational process and you need to talk to these people as well as to companies in the countries you’re collaborating with. No one knows, of course, what the future holds, but that’s where we are at the moment.

4. Learn a language

If you speak only English, then most people you collaborate with will be speaking a foreign language and you will miss the nuances. If you learn only one language, and show an interest in other languages, it will enhance the quality of your communication.

5. Be open-minded

There are many different ways of operating a company and putting on a show. The hierarchical business model is just one. Real collaboration is thinking imaginatively. The more you learn about alternative working methods, the better your relationships will be. And learning to collaborate with foreigners will mean that you collaborate better with UK colleagues, too.

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