Tryater and seven other theatre companies are being subsidised by the European Union’s Creative Europe Fund for the international project phōnē (Greek for ‘voice/speech’). The three-year project, for which Tryater is the coordinator, connects people who belong to a language minority across language and cultural borders. The theatre companies work for, with and on these language communities. The project will lead, amongst other things, to eight modern day, professional theatre productions in 2024.
The theatres all perform in a regional and/or minority language, therefore giving minority language speakers a voice and protecting cultural and linguistic diversity in Europe. The phōnē project strengthens these objectives and offers the theatres a platform for sharing knowledge and expertise.
New pieces and a community festival
The project basically has two parts to it: one is to write new plays and translate them into each other’s minority language, and the other is to have different generations of amateur performers working together. This will lead to new theatre productions in minority languages being performed at an international community festival. Tryater writer Wessel de Vries (work includes Under Water) will join the writers’ programme and amateur performers will start to be cast in 2023. There will also be other European-wide podcasts and vodcasts for audiences and proven methods and examples for theatre in minority languages.
When there’s a birth, they’re there. When there’s a death, they’re there. When someone’s been married 50 years or if a new supermarket is opened, they’re there. A whole life long.
In this major on-location production of Fanfare, you meet the members of the music society in a small village that, despite everything and whatever happens, come together every Tuesday evening to rehearse. While chairperson Wieke throws herself into the preparations for the summer concert, euphonium player Rinse wonders if his bad eyesight will stop him playing. And for the majority of the members, the new conductor Jetske takes a bit of getting used to. But whatever happens and however strong the wind blows, the marching band always walks on.
Fanfare is a poetic and humorous story of the members of a marching band. About a diverse group of people looking for harmony in themselves and with each other, but hardly ever finding it. With a large cast and the artistic team behind successful productions such as Part-time Paradise and Under Water, Tryater is putting on a major on-location production against the backdrop of Easterlittens.
Both Frisian and Dutch are spoken in Fanfare. English subtitling is available
In these times of increasing individualism with people cutting down on their volunteer club life, the creators at Tryater visited more than thirty marching bands in Fryslân. What is it that brings them together each week to make music?
Director and artistic director Tatiana Pratley: “I think it’s amazing to see how these people, with totally different backgrounds and ages, choose to come together each week to make music and get completely absorbed in something that is so much bigger than just themselves. While we were researching, we heard so many beautiful, touching and funny stories that we thought we could probably make a trilogy out of them. That’s how the idea was born to develop a trilogy and spend a whole season looking at the dynamics of the marching band and the reasons people play in them. For us, the marching band represents something much bigger, namely the strength of the community and the importance of doing something of value together.“
Members of Frisian marching bands play in all three productions, and each production can be seen independently of the others. Ynblaze (Warming up) is set during a band rehearsal and in Thúsblaze (Blowing home), set in Frisian living rooms, you meet a character from the final production. The major on-location production of Fanfare is an open-air play against the backdrop of Easterlittens.
The Fanfare-finale is part of the project phōnē, co-funded by the European Union. The project connects people who belong to a language minority across language and cultural borders. The theatre companies work for, with and on these language communities.
As part of the European project for minority languages Phōnē Romke Gabe Draaijer creates for Tryater this modern day performance, together with people who speak (one of) the variations of the Frisian language. In ten rehearsals the group worked towards a humoristic enactment with a filosofical twist. In It lêste wurd (The last word) we experience the last goodbye to the Frisian language, where the dialects en small languages of the province bury their second national language.
We enter the hall, the chairs orderly placed next to each other. We had coffee and cake. Speakers clear their throats. In the coffin lies the language. The dialects and Frisian language variations say their farewells to the Frisian language today.
The performance is created with input from experts of Frisian linguistics and with the creative effort of the amateurs who take part. An extraordinary experiment, performed with the love for the language.
Phōnē is an international project of seven theatre companies which are being subsidised by the European Union’s Creative Europe Fund, for which Tryater is the coordinator. All the theatre companies, for example alongside Tryater organisations from Breton, Galician and Sorbian are involved, create in their area a modern day, professional theatre production about their own minority language. The performances come together in july in a grand meeting in Tirol, with a delegation of all performers.
In September 2023, theatre makers from Brest (Bretons), Galway (Irish), Brüneck (Ladin), Bautzen (Sorbian), Storslett (Kven), Bucharest (Yiddisch) en Santiago de Compostela (Galician) came together in Santiago de Compostela to talk about the productions they will put on in the coming year as part of the phōnē project. Each theatre maker held an inspiring presentation of their way of working and directing. For the first time, the theatre makers got a look into each other’s plans for the productions being made in the coming year. There were a lot of interesting similarities and just as many exciting differences. On the last day, they also discussed the future of the phōnē project and how the different theatre companies can stay connected with each other, as everyone recognised the importance of the exchange that has been brought about through the phōnē project.
Wessel de Vries spoke in Santiago de Compostela about the development of the Fanfare (Marching Band) trilogy and took his fellow theatre makers through Tryater’s methods and plans. He will again be in Santiago de Compostela in 2024 as he will be directing the Inger Birkelund’s production of Let the little children come to me for the Kvääni National Theatre in Storslett (Norway). On 22 and 23 June 2024, Tryater will welcome the Kvääni National Theatre from Norway and Teatr Piba from Bretagne to Leeuwarden to perform a part of their phōnē productions.
Bautzen conference july 2023
At the start of July, a delegation from Tryater travelled to Bautzen in Germany. The town lies in Eastern Saxony near the Czech border and is where Sorbian is spoken alongside German, including in theatre. The German-Sorbian Folk Theatre was the stage for the four-day conference on working with minority languages and how we can support each other as institutes. In addition to the eight European participants, there were interesting guests: theatre makers form Canada, Hawaii and Australia, let’s them call original inhabitants, who talked and shared about their language and culture and how artistic work is a medium for their languages. You can imagine their backgrounds are completely different to our own, yet theatre connects us. Which is why, once more, interesting collaborations were the result of this long weekend. To be continued!
International group of playwriters in Leeuwarden
During the last few days of November, Tryater played host to playwriters from the eight theatre companies in the three-year project phōnē. They took masterclasses, shared expertise and made arrangements for residency programmes. Wessel de Vries is representing Tryater in the project.
The theatre companies, based in Brittany (France), Galicia (Spain) and South Tyrol (Italy), all share the fact that they perform in a regional or minority language. For the project, each company is writing a new play in 2023-2024 that will be then translated into each other’s minority language with help from the University of Leipzig. The playwrights got to know each other in Leeuwarden through activities such as working on assignments together and following workshops and masterclasses from theatre maker/playwright Tjeerd Bischoff (on research being part of the writing process), archaeologist/anthropologist Judith van der Else (on the relationship between language and landscapes), theatre maker/art activist Richard Hurford (on working with communities) and Sabine Asmus (on the art of translation). The guests explored the Frisian landscape on the Sunday afternoon, visiting the fishing village of Moddergat and the marshes of Houtwiel.
In 2023, the writers will start producing their pieces and visit two other companies so as to work together and inspire each other. Each theatre company will not only put on their own pieces in 2024, but there will also be an evening in which parts of the other scripts will be performed. Along with writing and translating new scripts in minority languages, phõnē also focuses on different generations of amateur performers working together. For this second aspect, casting of amateur performers will start in 2023 for an international community festival.