The idea of Escena Erasmus was born from conversations between the members of CRIT Theatre Company and the professor Antoni Tordera of the University of Valencia.
In the last few years, the University of Valencia has been named as the second academic institution in Spain with the most exchange students in Spain. We thought our university should continue to have creative activities to enrich the experience of a year abroad.
After a few meetings with department coordinators, it was confirmed that there was a strong demand for cultural activities from the Erasmus students, and in particular, theatrical activities. The University does not have a “proper” theatre studies and the workshops organised by ‘Aula de Teatro’ are already full by October. Because of this, we came to the conclusion that it was an opportunity to create something which would allow theatre within the Erasmus scene in the University, with the possibility of showcasing of the performances. It ended up turning into one of the symbols of cultural interchange within Valencia promoted by the University of Valencia.
Nowadays, when we talk about a European education space, we should also find in it the opportunity to move towards a united Europe through the increase in knowledge gained from experience in education. These experiences should accompany the creation of any superior education.
It was therefore considered the perfect opportunity to create a network of European Universities which could form an interchange of theatrical experiences, fundamentally formed by Erasmus students. This is Europe: actors of various countries representing a text in a language which isn’t their own and presenting it in front of the European public.
We think that the University of Valencia was the best candidate to be the European headquarters, as it is already highly multicultural, and this project serves to improve the image we already have of international excellence of this institution.
During the first weeks of life of this project, a plan was drawn to organise the steps of each Escena Erasmus course. It was decided to have two shows every year, one in each academic semester whilst working towards a grand ‘espectáculo’ at the end of the year that could allow the company to conduct an autonomous, national and European tour.
The final show of every semester aims to put all the skills learnt into practice while giving the students the opportunity to understand and practice theatre in small productions. In addition, the students gain the basic notions of theatre in order to produce a show (the idea of the show, directing, scenography, costumes, audio and lights, production, publicity etc).
Since the beginning of this project it was decided that the final show of every workshop must maintain the European spirit of Escena Erasmus and therefore European dramatic literature is essential and has been explored thoroughly. This year we chose German drama from the beginning of the twentieth century, from the Authors of Karl Valentin and Bertolt Brecht. From them we produced the shows ‘Karl Cabaret’ and ‘Bar Brecht’ which were shown in the Muntaner Auditorium of the Colegio Mayor ‘Luis Vives’ of the University of Valencia.
The Escena Erasmus show ‘The Crazy Ship’ was selected in the competition ‘Las Huellas de la Barraca 2010’ out of over one hundred projects presented by Universities and Drama Colleges of Spain and South America. The SECC (The State Society of Cultural Commemorations) organised a tour to celebrate ‘Xacobeo 2010’ which meant we could carry out a tour of over thirty towns in Castilla and León, Navarra, La Rioja and Galicia during July 2010. This show was also performed at the Medieval Festival of Elche in Alicante as part of the official program.