An anthill is a space of concentration and cooperation. Concentration of one place contrasts with today’s individualised and overcrowded society. In opposition to globalization stands the concentration on one point, the center, and the immediate surroundings. Calming and anchoring in one point. To connect these concentrated points means to collaborate and to rest through a centre of gravity to which we can return. The meeting of schools is a meeting of ant colonies. Swarming is a way of being, a pulse of life, and a common goal.
What is the requirement for this common swarming? An anthill is a place of strict hierarchy. Each ant has its own place and task. However, is this hierarchy sustainable in the world of the theatre? What are the roots of this hierarchy? In what situations can a hierarchy be useful? And in what cases is it merely an artificially maintained habit?
The idea of the festival was born during the Velvet Revolution, i.e. in the early 1990’s. During this period, the Theatre Faculty of the Janáček Academy of Performing Arts in Brno was restored, the reconstructed theatre space of Studio Marta was reopened and representatives of three Czechoslovak theatre schools met there. It was here that students and teachers of JAMU, the Theatre Faculty of the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague (DAMU) and the Academy of Performing Arts in Bratislava (VŠMU) discussed their procedures in teaching and creation of theatre, their thoughts and ideas. Together, they initiated the new project, the aim of which was to create an annual event that could be developed in the future in an international context. Representatives of these three schools were the first participants in the festival and are still annual staples of the main programme. The first festival took place in 1991 and a year later got its name, SETKÁNÍ / ENCOUNTER.
The mission of the festival is to create a space for mutual meetings and for learning about the theatre schools, their students and teachers in the long-term, and to share their knowledge and experience in the field of theatre production thanks to such meetings. The participants of the festival thus enrich each other with new insights, they can learn about new procedures in their artistic activities, they can be inspired by their colleagues from all over the world and receive valuable reflection on their work. At the same time, relations between individual institutions are strengthened every year, student networking is supported and future professional contacts are established. The internal goal of the festival is the educational dimension of students at the Theatre Faculty JAMU who participate in the festival and use their theoretical foundations in practice through the organization of the festival. The uniqueness of the festival lies in this type of organization, where the management of the festival has been successfully passed on among the students of the Studio of Theatre Production and Stage Technology from year to year for the past 30 years. Over the years, the festival has grown in terms of the number of days, participating theatre schools and programme. International contacts are very beneficial for further development of the festival and the fact that every year, we manage to welcome prestigious educational theatre institutions from around the world to Brno. Applying schools are carefully selected by the festival’s Selection Committee. Until 2020, Brno hosted ensembles from more than 40 countries and 4 continents.
The SETKÁNÍ / ENCOUNTER festival cooperates with a number of key Brno theatres, where the individual parts of the festival programme take place, as well as with a number of important partners at the regional, national and international levels. The programme usually presents not only theatre performances of participating schools, participants also have the opportunity to meet at workshops, discussions, OFF-programme performances, and evening parties.
Festival SETKÁNÍ/ENCOUNTER is organized by students of Janáček Academy of Performing Arts.
The project is co-financed by the Governments of Czechia,
Hungary, Poland and Slovakia through Visegrad Grants from
International Visegrad Fund. The mission of the fund is to advance
ideas for sustainable regional cooperation in Central Europe.