The Japan Foundation
Performing Arts Network Japan
Presenter Interview
European arts scene leader Frie Leysen talks about the role and activities of arts festivals
European arts scene leader Frie Leysen talks about the role and activities of arts festivals
If they are not dealing with the war issue, what do they deal with?
They deal with the kind of issues that young people deal with all over the world: music, life, love, consumerism, death…

Inevitably, in the Middle East, don’t you always have to deal with the reality of censorship. Was there censorship in your Meeting Points festival?
Absolutely. But we knew this in advance. Criticism of religion and politics are not done, and sex is taboo. But there is still so much you can communicate….

How about the audience?
The population of the region, and thus the audience, are extremely young. You don’t need statistics to realize that fact. Just walk around and you will see it. Also the audience is super-curious. They don’t have the opportunity to see very much, so they are really hungry for new things.

You have been successful at Meeting Point once. Are the organizers asking you to come back again?
No, the idea for Meeting Points is that every edition will be curated by a different curator.

Tell us what other current projects you are engaged in?
I am working as a curator of Theater der Welt in Germany now, which is an international festival that will happen in Essen and Mulhaim in July 2010. That is why I am here in Japan now. ITI (International Theatre Institute) Germany asked me to do the next edition. Theater der Welt is held once every three years in a different city in Germany, with a different curator and different team.
 As curator, I never work with themes, and with Theater der Welt the title itself is the theme. Theater der Welt means Theatre of the World. It is a huge theme, and I want to take it literally.
 My big concern in Europe now is that everything is closing up again, and the borders are coming up again. Nationalist feelings are rising.
 For me it’s very important to present “artists” rather than “work”. I want to present artists who come from all over the world. When I look at Europe as a whole, I see that international circulation of the arts is decreasing. For example, in Holland there is hardly any international circulation. In Germany, I am sorry to say, there is not as much circulation as before. France, on the other hand, is actually doing better now. England is getting more isolated. International circulation is more the exception today, whereas it should be an everyday thing.
 TDW wants to open things up internationally. And I prefer to make selections based on the artists—on strong personalities—rather than on specific productions. I want to invite people with different visions and to have them gather in the same place, at the same time. Bringing together people with different visions on society and the world creates a big, and hopefully inspiring, clash of visions.
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