Celebrating 10 years of cross-cultural, cross-disciplinary performance, Voila! Europe has announced its border-busting programme for 2022.
A multilingual theatre festival produced by The Cockpit in Marylebone, the curated programme opens a trusted portal to new European theatre for independent artists and adventurous audiences. The festival is live on stage in London and live online everywhere, gathering together a welcoming community of the culturally curious.
Beginning in 2012 with a dozen bilingual shows in French and English at The Cockpit, Voila! Europe festival has adapted and morphed along with the times – opening its arms to all European languages in 2017 in response to the Brexit referendum. In 2020, Voila! presented an entirely digital festival, adapting to the pandemic by accelerating a long-term goal to reach international audiences online. For these efforts, the festival was awarded a “Badge of Invention” by the European Festivals Association. This year, the festival continues with digital shows – including one performed live from Ukraine – online watch parties, and on-stage performances, so that anyone can travel the world, from the comfort of their sofa or from their seat at The Cockpit.
Independent theatre reflects the emergent and urgent questions of our times. Throughout the programme, you’ll find theatre makers exploring every corner of the human condition, with shows about joy, violence, beauty, space, sex work, wonder, masculinity, old age, family, and cultural identity. As always, the festival showcases the wide variety of styles and techniques that make up “European Theatre:” poetry, puppetry, documentary, autobiography, technology, stunning imagery, innovative movement, clowning, masks, and many inventive uses of music, from folk gig-theatre to improvised vocal looping.
The twelve languages on stage at Voila! Europe this year – Ukrainian, Hungarian, French, Portuguese, Swedish, Russian, Spanish, German, Polish, Irish, Croatian, and English – promise to bring new perspectives and ideas to share with audiences in London, and online everywhere. Voila! Europe is described as a multilingual festival rather than an international one: languages can leap over borders and cross cultures to challenge preconceptions. If you don’t speak all twelve languages, don’t worry; there will be English subtitles when you need them.
Director of The Cockpit Dave Wybrow comments, Times are changing: our future depends upon a renewed commitment to values and the ability to make unlikely new connections in support of them. The cross-border challenges we face require deepening cooperation, not retreating behind walls. Which is why The Cockpit continues to produce Voila! Europe. Not because it brings together a glossy selection of designer theatre for an elite market, but because it brings together people who have something to say and are driven to say it before a live, engaged audience. Not because they all speak the same cultural language and take a good reception for granted, but specifically because they don’t.
Festival director Amy Clare Tasker says, London is full of independent artists and companies making theatre with European languages, accents, backgrounds, techniques, and aesthetics – but many find it difficult to find their place in the mainstream theatre landscape here. Voila! Europe is a platform to celebrate these artists and their work, and bring them together with companies working in continental Europe. This year, we are delighted to have three companies making the trip to London to present their shows at the festival from Hungary and France. Since the referendum in 2016, we have renewed our commitment to ‘keep the channel open’ between the UK and the rest of Europe, and to inspire London with the joyously inventive work of European artists.