EU Twin Theatres

As part of Alternative National Theatres, the Other National Theatre’s plan is to twin with a practitioner, venue or company in a town in every other nation of the European Union – to start with.

The UK’s Other National Theatre is based at the Alhambra Theatre, in the seaside town of Morecambe. We want to use Morecambe as a model for creating a Euro-network of theatre twinning, using people, companies and buildings twinning as a way to get people communicating and sharing the ideas and visions that transcend borders and politicians.

The idea of European identity has been questioned on all sides across the EU as a result of Brexit and the rise of neoliberal political systems that attack culture and unity. 

We therefore think the idea of twinning deserves a reboot. 

We think there’s unity in diversity, a common cause in the acknowledging and clebrating the Other in the accessible, wonderful, dangerous way that only theatre can do. There is more need than ever to address questions of identity and culture, how we fight the homogenisation of tech-driven global culture, the rich discoveries to be found in our own backyards and front rooms.

The Morecambe idea is start a modern network of partners through the process of old-fashioned twinning, to make a statement of cultural intent that holds value when funding is being cut everywhere and national arts programmes are running dry.

So we find each other, we identify the links we seek, we celebrate the commonalities in our differences, the universality of the performing arts, the unity of our love for culture. We explore, we share, and then we see what happens.

If you believe that theatres can be harbours for culture, places to showcase voices that aren’t heard, let’s start a conversation.

Contact us here…

Notes on twinning

[ Responses to the Manifesto ]

ONE: A good starting point is a cultural one. We intend to twin the Other National Theatre/Alhambra Theatre in Morecambe (in the North West of England) with a counterpart, ideally by the sea, in the European Union – be it a pesson, festival, theatre building, cultural centre, other venue, arts academy or performing arts company.

TWO: We work on the good old UK tradition of ‘zero budget’ and work our way up from there. They say money is no object. Well in the UK most of us in theatre work with no money. This is the future. Everything becomes… well, not necessarily easier but certainly clearer when you release yourself from money. And since there’s no money around here in the UK, we expect nothing from the cultural twinning partner except to initially say that we’re linked, happily in conversation, and trying to work out how we can share talent and collaborate on things (all done on an EasyJet/Ryanair network/level). Sleeping on someone else’s sofa is often a good way to feel part of the community.

THREE: The relevance is that we use theatre to prove there’s a need, that we seek to find a good fit for the environment/environs as well as the community itself, that we seek engagement from creatives/cast and audience equally.

FOUR: We can say and do what we like. How do we challenge the ways in which globalisation destroys culture or makes it ‘samey’, but how do we also fight the homogenising effects of the funding programmes and the cultural centres?

FIVE: How do we make ‘community’ theatre that talks to the people with the art of the cultural centres?

SIX: We are looking for towns with similar aspirations. We’re not necessarily looking for towns that have a thriving performing arts scene (after all, Morecambe is a town that is only just rediscovering its forgotten theatre heritage, having lost it for many years) but we’re looking more for towns that are discovering their own heritages and revitalising their lost economies. And of course the sea is a huge resonance for us. That sea would inspire us to set up Morecambe as a ‘Harbour for Culture’ with permanent connections to the EU, EFTA, EEA and Partner Countries. It will weather the Brexit storm and grow to be a sustainable cultural hub and model for exchanges between all our countries.

SEVEN: Refine and explore that responsibility to the audiences. Everyone wants unity, enabling wellbeing, digital futures, flourishing towns, fulfilling work — what do we have to say about it?

EIGHT: Rediscover our responsibility to the environment and environs, let it shape our work. Let’s not confuse community with one-size fits all culture. Community theatre isn’t second-rate theatre but theatre for the community – it should ALWAYS look good on the national stage.

NINE: We take work and go across to each other’s places and modify, adapt, evolve. Language listen to the voice of our audience before we speak. See the value of collaboration in when translating – let’s not be lazy and think we know it all.

TEN: Fringe values. Let’s not allow avant-garde and fringe be an excuse for substandard work. Theatre doesn’t need a budget to be good. Let’s share knowhow and problem-solve the question of how to produce and not be out of pocket. This is Poor Theatre in its LITERAL sense. But doing it in the street isn’t always an option, so let’s learn from each other the ways we take work to homes, beaches, schools, hospitals, shopping centres, old people’s homes, prisons, streets, the countryside.

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