Review of Premières Rencontres 2020

This year was a special year for the PREMIÈRES RENCONTRES European Biennial, as it was for everyone else, due to the health context. Initially scheduled from 16 March to 4 April 2020, and cancelled due to the health situation, the European Biennial of Val-d’Oise and Seine-et-Marne presented a programme of more than 80 performances of 10 French and foreign shows in 14 towns in the Ile-de-France region (and an additional one in Normandy) over a period of 3 weeks. Due to the instability of the situation during the months following the first containment, we did not have the opportunity to reproduce a touring model of these ten shows in the partner cities because their programmes were, at that time, already full. In fact, the containment began the same week that the festival was due to start: the logistics required at the end of the festival required months of reorganisation in order to find common calendars between the 15 territories. We therefore had to cancel the event as it had been held in the previous eight editions in order to work first on the guaranteed rescheduling of the shows in the slots available for each of the cities.

The European Forum, two full days of conferences, debates and project presentations at the heart of the festival, was originally scheduled for 18 and 19 March 2020. Thanks to a joint effort between our public partners, the city of Villiers-le-Bel, and the speakers and artists, we were able to postpone these two days to 7 and 8 October, at the Espace Marcel Pagnol in Villiers-le-Bel, with the entire programme and speakers (physically or by video-conference for the German, Scottish and Canadian speakers). Despite the constraints of the capacity (30 people per venue, in two spaces), ACTA made sure that the content of the forum was broadcast online via live videos of the conference-debates. ACTA also insisted on the need to keep written and video archives, even more important at this time, with the production of a written summary by a journalist, and the production of numerous videos during the Forum by a qualified video maker.

3 shows were programmed during this particular edition: Bleu by the Cie d’A Côté, Des choses à porter by the German company Theaterhaus and Stip it! by the Dutch company sQueezz.

Foreign institutions have once again responded to this programme, and the festival has received the support of the Dutch Embassy and the Goethe Institute.

In addition to the performances, the festival also welcomed participants of the Erasmus + programme led by the company ACTA planned for 2020-2023, but whose activities were postponed due to the health context.

The event would not have been possible without the support of the Ile-de-France region: the DRAC Île-de-France, the Val-d’Oise departmental council, the Roissy Pays de France agglomeration community and the town of Villiers-le-Bel. These partnerships demonstrate once again this year the importance given to culture and art for young children in the area hosting the festival and the ACTA company. This approach is reflected in the enthusiasm that accompanied this year’s European forum, which offered conferences on artistic and theatrical creation and the awakening of the very young through art.

In order to share this event with as many people as possible, a written summary and videos of the European forum conferences are available on the site, as well as interviews with various participants.

Premières Rencontres 2020 was…

Festival: Initially 16 March – 4 April 2020 (cancelled)
European Forum: Initially 18-19 March 2020 / postponed to 7-8 October 2020
Initially 80 performances of which 12 were maintained during the Forum and 43 postponed in total
10 European companies
10 creations
Initially 15 partner towns in 95 and 77 (and a 15th in Normandy) of which 10 were able to postpone the shows
Initially 25 partner cultural and early childhood venues
19 international speakers at the forum
4 conferences
3 project presentations
1 exhibition
1 training session and 1 conference-debate
1 creation supported by the Val-d’Oise Departmental Council

In order to give visibility to early childhood creation, 15 towns in the Val-d’Oise, Seine-et-Marne and Normandy had initially co-constructed the event: Arnouville, Beaumont-sur-Oise, Blainville-sur-Orne, Cergy, Fosses, Garges-lès-Gonesse, Gonesse, Marly-la-Ville, Mitry-Mory, Persan, Saint-Gratien, Saint-Ouen-l’Aumône, Sarcelles, Taverny, Villiers-le-Bel