Voila! Europe is an annual theatre rendez-vous in London, bringing together British and European theatre makers. Our curated programme is a border-busting mix of multicultural, multilingual, and multidisciplinary performance.
Performances take place across three venues in London: The Cockpit in Marylebone; Etcetera Theatre in Camden, and Applecart Arts in Newham. New this year, Theatre Delicatessen will host the Voila! Crossroads, a festival hub for artist talks, pop-up performances, and our European Theatre Forum. Find out more on the 'Venues' page.
WELCOME TO THE 2018 FESTIVAL
Border-busting multilingual, multicultural, multidisciplinary performance from across Europe. This year, 200 artists, 36 shows, 4 London venues over 12 days. Plus a new opportunity for audiences and interested parties to meet the companies and join the growing conversation about Europe-wide fringe theatre.
We’ve added a Festival Hub in collaboration with Theatre Deli in Broadgate, open daily in the heart of London to theatre companies, audiences, the public, and YOU. Meet us at the crossroads of European and British theatre at Theatre Deli Bar and Café to connect, share, learn, network, and discuss. Socialise as much – or as little – as you like at the free opening party and bring your beautiful mind to the weekend European Theatre Forum of panel discussions, workshops and Open Space conversations. All welcome. No passports required.
We are passionate about exploring and expanding the idea of being European. This year’s VOILA! includes a show by Polish & Nigerian artists combining theatre styles from their countries, a real-life couple describing their fight to stay in the UK despite Indian & German citizenships, a solo show charting the life of a Jewish Lebanese British gay man, and more.
Themes range from robots and new technology to European vs village identities, from Europe-wide LGBTQ stories to witchcraft and mysticism, via stories of coming of age to ageing. Styles range from animation to masks, from comedy to circus, through dance, cabaret, and drama.
So why do we describe Voila! Festival as multilingual rather than international? Did you know the EU recognizes 24 official languages; French, Irish, Latvian, etc. reflecting the mix of EU states - and all EU citizens have the right to communicate with EU institutions in any of them and receive a reply in the same language? Cool, eh? Especially if your first language is one of the 24.
But did you also know 40 million EU citizens regard an additional 60 ‘unofficial’ languages as first languages: Basque, Catalan, Welsh, Yiddish, etc. And that the 508 million EU population, including its resident diasporas, probably use the world‘s 4,000 main languages between them. And, if they don’t, then the wider European population of 740 million almost certainly does.
The writer Elias Canetti said: “We don’t live in a country, but in a language”.
He meant that we live through culture, regardless of which state boundary surrounds us, and the fundamental process of culture is language. That’s why Voila! styles itself multi-lingual, not international. Because while state borders monopolise our political imagination, when it comes to actual living, communicating, and relating as groups and individuals across state borders, as well as within them, the idea of fixed national boundaries – and cultures - falls apart. But languages and real people cross borders and always have.
In this context, insisting your theatre comes in one language only from one bounded, geo-political state might come to feel a bit limited, n’est-ce pas? So it’s Voila! Multilingual. Because that’s the world we live in.
Voila! Theatre Festival began in 2012 as an annual French & English bilingual fringe festival produced by The Cockpit. In response to Brexit, the 2017 festival expanded to include all European languages, with performances at The Cockpit, Etcetera Theatre, and Applecart Arts. Over the past 5 years, Voila! has supported over 500 artists to present 105 shows, bringing together British artists, UK-based European artists, and visiting artists coming from abroad to perform in the festival.
Voila! is a place for artists to take risks. We support individuals and companies to make a daring leap: presenting a new piece of work, touring to a new audience, or translating a play into a new language. Beyond providing a performance platform, we mentor emerging companies, so that their next step can be a step up.
In 2016, we programmed PSYCHEdelight’s BORDERLINE, a multilingual satirical comedy about the Calais Jungle, devised with refugees. The show had its first performances at Voila! and went on to be co-produced by Counterpoints Arts. After a revival at The Cockpit in 2017, the show is now touring the UK & Europe. The company has been featured in a documentary by the Guardian, and nominated for MigrationWork’s Community Integration Awards.
The European Festivals Association says: ‘Voila! Europe clearly has an imaginative and energetic approach to presenting international work in an urban festival setting. From its initial aims it has proved itself to be responsive, quirky, and risk-taking.’
WHO WE ARE
The Voila! Festival is made possible by the team at The Cockpit, and our partners at Etcetera Theatre, Applecart Arts, and Theatre Deli.
Dave Wybrow, Theatre Director of The Cockpit
Sharlit Deyzac, Director, VOILA! Festival
Amy Clare Tasker, Deputy Director, VOILA! Festival
With special thanks to:
The French Institute UK
The Italian Cultural Institute UK