< SWITCH ME >
And on the fourth day they staged a play on the bus and it was good.
The ETC group left Zurich early in the morning and had a long drive to the Tuscan town of Prato. Given that the members of the caravan already feel like family after travelling together for several days, the bus activities on Sunday became more dynamic. Therefore, after our Italian friend Gherardo – a theatre critic – gave us a few details about the play we were about to see that evening, The Belle Vue directed by Paolo Magelli, part of the group decided to have a dramatic reading of the English version of the text. The impromptu play brought everyone to life and channelled the team's focus, making us forget about the sleep deprivation and the long distances we covered. Later that evening, we saw the show at the Teatro Metastasio di Prato – as lovely as it was, we were better.
Another special moment during our journey to Prato was spoken-word poetess Deborah Stevenson's performance for the group (you already know Deborah from the interview E&M published on Day 2). Deborah performed two poems - one in which she brilliantly impersonated an American pastor - and showed us clips from her earlier artistic experiences in London. The mini-show made us fall in awe with the talented poet and ended in tears and applause. We strongly recommend you keep an eye on Deobrah and her passionate work.
I don't know about your weekend, but we on the ETC Spring Tour managed to see two plays in two different countries in just a few hours. Day 3 was exhausting, but then again it gives us many tales to share with you.
After leaving Liege, we went back to Germany in the small town of Karlsruhe, near the border with France. There we visited the Badisches Staatstheater and saw an endearing short play for toddlers at the Children's Theatre. All I can say is that I never thought plays for under five year olds could be so lovely – the two actors on stage used body movement and dance to take us on a meteorological journey, from cold lands to warm beaches. Us grownups might have been more excited than the target audience, I'll admit.
After ten rounds of negotiations and near failure, Serbia and Kosovo have agreed a pact that opens up the path for Serbia's languishing EU accession. The constellation of events that led to the announcement of the pact on April 19th, including discussions with Russia, has brought this historic agreement about. Yet, while the ground has been laid for Serbia, it is only the first of many steps on the path towards EU membership.
The clear political stumbling block between Serbia and the European Union is the recognition of Kosovo's sovereignty. Having accepted changes in the governing of northern Kosovo, most notably giving the "Association/Community" "full overview of the areas of economic development, education, health, urban and rural planning", Serbia is not close to making a full recognition.
A historical agreement with limitations
The signing of a 15 point agreement between Serbia and Kosovo constitutes a major success for High Representative Catherine Ashton, both for the stability in the Balkans region and unlocking the potential for Serbia and Kosovo's entry into the EU. The two parties, torn apart in Kosovo's war of independence in 2008, have reached an accord that recognises Kosovo's right to be governed by local independent statue, whilst giving Serbs in northern Kosovo their own police force and appeals court. However, far from being the end of the story, the agreement has created the space for normalisation to emerge, rather than sealed the relations between the two states.
Time flies when you’re on tour. Day 2 of the ETC Spring experience brought us to the coquette town of Liege in Belgium, discussing how young students can access the theatre industry and find work.
Nathanael Harcq, director of the ESACTA School of acting in Liege, talked about what his institution does to facilitate the transition from theatre school to work. According to him, the school is already part of the profession of acting, as the students are given the chance to stage their own productions and work. In this respect, the ESACTA functions like a workshop where rules are created collectively by the students and their teachers. The youngsters are thus encouraged to get to know themselves better and find out what conditions they need in order to flourish as professionals. They are even given electronic keys so that they can go in and out of the school at any time.
Taking this theme further, E&M spoke to one of the young artists on the ETC Spring Tour, namely spoken-word poet Deborah Stevenson. The 23 year-old wunderkind from East London is the founder and director of The Mouthy Poets in Nottingham, a group in which young people learn how to express themselves in verse. She worked with Chanel 4, The Roundhouse in London, The British Council and has been published by Louis Vuitton. Here’s a short interview with Deborah on our busy tour bus.