I set up The Fence to bring together playwrights and cultural operators who create the conditions for playwriting – from across Europe and beyond. I launched it strategically as a small independent satellite to the International Network for Contemporary Performing Arts – IETM, so that we could grow ourselves and then have ready access to a much wider forum. Now numbering around 250 people from 50 countries, the network has met 26 times across Europe in the last 15 years – at festivals, on retreat, as an adjunct to the IETM. Its core ethos is that diversity and cultural mobility are in practice the same thing. Each require negotiation(s). At every meeting we meet ourselves, learn about practice and structures from our hosts, make scratch work together.
As well as many smaller autonomous projects which emerged from different parts of the network, the Fence yielded Janus, a partnership between West Yorkshire Playhouse, Theater Instituut Nederland, Uni-T in Graz and the Finnish Theatre Information Centre in Helsinki. Janus identified 15 plays form 15 countries, created staged readings at festivals in Austria, Finland and the UK and explored different creative dramaturgical processes. Participants like the model and the experience of The Fence so much, they want to use the model to generate similar networks in Africa and the Caribbean. We have begun this with initial meetings in Guadeloupe and Morocco. I have presented on my work in Turkey, Canada, Sweden, Australia, Romania, Netherlands, Spain, Ireland and Israel.
The Transnational working party of the Creative Renewal consortium funded as part of the EU Equal programme, brought me into contact with organisations working to remove barriers to the workplace on the grounds of ethnicity, gender and disability in Spain, Portugal, Italy and the Netherlands.
My apprenticeship in working internationally was further served as part of the series of Transmission Programmes focusing artists working in diverse third sector or applied contexts, overseen by the National Theatre Education Department with key partners in The Netherlands and further partners in Finland and Austria and later Poland and Ireland
This informed my thinking around The Fence and also Acts of Translation, a bi-lateral project between Paris-London bringing together playwrights whose origins may lie outside Europe to explore each others’ systems, practice and begin making work together – in partnership with Soho Theatre and Goldsmiths, and with support from British Council and Institute Francais.