As Theatre of Europe stages two site-specific shows for its first season, its artistic director Henriette Morrison tells Georgia Snow about uniting European creatives.
Does your role differ from other artistic directors?
The thing about this is that international collaborations are the things that artistic directors of theatres often cannot take the time to do, it does take a lot longer to do something internationally. We don’t have to deal with visas, yet, but communication is very long and misunderstandings can happen very quickly and easily, so it needs someone who is really focused on that. That is my job really, being fully focused on the theatre directors and helping them when they come here. In the midst of all of this, I have had a second child and I really wondered how I was going to do it, because even though I am surrounded by a wonderful team, essentially it is my thing. Actually, because it’s been such an unorthodox process – like for The Doll’s House, which is performed in people’s homes – I think I have been able to do it with a baby strapped to me for the last five months, juggling it as a freelance operation. It has probably been easier than if I was running a building.
How did you come to set up Theatre of Europe?
Before running Theatre of Europe, I considered myself a theatremaker and ran a company doing a lot of work in France and in the UK. I consequently saw a lot of work in Europe and I realised that I was getting to see a lot of shows that were from all over the continent and were really interesting, but not in the UK. I just felt there was something missing here. In France, it’s totally normal to go and see a show with subtitles, but here people are a bit frightened. The idea came about for Theatre of Europe, which is for British audiences.
How do you foresee your projects changing in light of the Brexit vote?
There is a definite will within the arts for international work to continue. I haven’t found the solution yet, but I am speaking to people. We have been heavily subsidised by the European Commission and I don’t see that continuing. We have some funding from Arts Council England, but it works because we have funding from all the cultural institutes of each country. The day after the Brexit news, I had a phone call with one of the institutes and they said: ‘We’re really pleased that we’re giving you funding this year, but just to warn you, next time you might not be a priority country.’ So for the moment we have other projects in this season on the go, and in the next two years, we will just have to find another route.