The Union des Théâtres de l’Europe defines itself as a place for art in the European realm.
Founded under initiative of French Minister for Culture Jack Lang and Italian theatre maestro Giorgio Strehler, its actions inscribe a firming cultural policy as a fundamental element for the setting of culture as a structural element of a political project.
Its values – of sharing, cooperation, knowledge and mutual aid – have envisioned the contemporary reality of European networks before its time. Still today this is what makes the strength of the European theatrical institutions such as the ones you all represent.
The network’s partners, on which TNSJ is one of its most resilient pillars, are the major examples we all look upon when intending to reflect, act, share and assume theatre as an art of communion and community.
It’s founding was an example for a Europe that, even if based in Italy, France, and Spain, understood that the fall of the wall of Berlin, and the opening to the former Eastern Europe was not only evident but a need as it meant the possibility to redeem, through theatre, History, the one that should be shared and the silent one that forged the collective memory. By doing so, theatre was claiming being aware of, as Saint Francis of Assisi said, that words are actions.
For the 2nd time, TNSJ welcomes UTE and much has changed between 2003, when became a member, and 2016. In Europe, in the way theatre cooperate, in the importance of a cultural policy that is aware of the open dialogue set between audiences, institutions, artists and artistic discourses. But what has not changed is the willingness to embrace causes like this one, where theatre is done by what is common, and through what one can do, give and add.
TNSJ role in this history is fundamental to better understand and further enhance how in the values that are shared by all members of UTE reside a fundamental strength for the defense not only of the artists but also of the individual choice of, by coming to see a show, help build a community.
Theatres, like coffee houses, as said George Steiner, are places of gathering from where we can see Europe. They are the primary places for a community to stand. It was like this with the ancient Greeks and its like this today when each theatre in each different city of yours, opens its doors to the public, and, by doing so, helps to shape the identity of their citizens.
Throughout the years the history you have all been forging together is, beyond difficulties, a successful story. And, once again the proof of that is TNSJ personal story. But the story you are writing these three days here in Porto is the story that matters.
For a Ministry for Culture that places internationalization at the core of its action, l’Union des Théâtres de l’Europe, and the place TNSJ has inside, is not only fundamental but also strategic. Not only because becomes part of a larger cultural project but as Alain Badiou said, theatre by definition does not exist, it helps everything around it to exist. This is even truer in such a city like Porto, where culture is an element of change.
Through UTE’s mission the role of TNSJ is also different in the city of Porto. And that matters to those living here, but also for those in the rest of country that can take pride when looking at this theatre and knowing that is national and represents them.
I end by thanking each one of the members of Union des Théâtres de l’Europe for giving us strength not to give up and allowing us to continue being an active partner for the future of the network. I also thank the artistic director of this theatre, Nuno Carinhas, as well as the president of the board Francisca Carneiro Fernandes, their administration and technical and artistic team for having put in place these three days, and to the audience, the one here at home and the one you helped us find at your own homes. Thank you.