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Voila! Europe Returns in 2020

The festival takes place 9-21 November 2020.

After months of theatres being closed and as the date Britain will leave the EU draws nearer, London's landmark festival of European theatre will return for an eighth year this November to celebrate the work of European companies based in London and across the continent. Four shows (10 performances in total) will take place live on stage at The Cockpit, six will be performed live online, and four will take the form of watch parties with audiences invited to watch a pre-recorded show together in Zoom and take part in a live post-show discussion with the artists. All shows, regardless of format, will invite audiences to a shared experience in real time, something that has been missed by so many in recent months.

Artists from Germany, Denmark, France, Colombia, Ireland, Italy, Portugal, the USA, and Hungary (in an ongoing partnership with the Hungarian Cultural Centre, London) have been programmed, alongside European artists living in the UK. Performances include shows in Spanish, French, Italian, Russian and Portuguese, as well as English and wordless offerings, with some shows offering a variety of languages to choose from. Topics addressed range from questions around European identity, the need for human connection and human rights issues to inflammatory bowel disease and Magda Goebbels' shoes with performance styles including puppetry, mime and cabaret.

Owned and run by United Colleges, The Cockpit first opened its doors to a live post-lockdown audience in July staging socially distanced opera in collaboration with Tête à Tête Opera and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. Following this successful pilot, and further performances in house, online, and even over the phone, The Cockpit is now fully open.

The Voila team is joined this year by Austrian theatre makers Andrija Repec and Petra Freimund. Both alumni of the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, they came to London and fell in love with independent devised and physical theatre, before returning to Austria to create a sister festival, Voila! Europe Vienna, set to begin in 2021. This year's audiences will meet Andrija and Petra thanks to the online programme for Voila! Europe 2020.

Ahead of the festival's opening, Voila! Europe will be holding a launch event on Zoom offering journalists the opportunity to find out more about the festival and meet the artists involved. Full listings for the festival are included below.

Festival Directors Sharlit Deyzac and Amy Clare Tasker said: "Wow, 2020 sure had some bugs - so it's time for an upgrade! In these extraordinary times, artists have proven their resilience and ingenuity with reimagined productions and new projects in direct response to our changing world. The Cockpit has reopened its auditorium safely, as well as adapting and investing in new ways of presenting theatre online. Voila has found an unexpected opportunity in crisis, to update our operating system with cross-cultural encounters online and on stage! Bring on Voila! Europe 2.0"

Dave Wybrow, Cockpit director, said 'Since 2012, The Cockpit has supported Voila! Europe to produce a multicultural, multilingual, and multidisciplinary festival that celebrates independent theatre and performance across the continent. Faced with the challenges of 2020, we are determined to continue with Voila in growing partnerships, growing audience, and growing a festival model that reaches beyond the walls of the theatre, beyond London, and beyond the UK".

Petra Freimund & Andrija Repec, festival directors of VOILA! Europe Vienna, said: "In uncertain times like these, when we do not know yet what the future may hold, we are building bridges and looking for silver linings. That is why we founded 'VOILA! Europe Wien', an Austrian registered theatre society, to stay connected with the UK despite whatever Brexit may bring. For us, devised and physical theatre open up opportunities to develop storytelling in a visceral way, not necessarily dependent on language."

Máté Vincze, director of the Hungarian Cultural Centre, London said: "Following a successful collaboration in 2019, we look forward to another innovative international theatre project in 2020. Voila's forward-thinking and dynamic response to the pandemic has given both the HCC and K2 Theater an opportunity to explore the potential of digital performance and continue to offer Hungarian theatre to UK audiences."

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