The "European Route of Historic Theatres" is organized route by route since 2007 with the support of the Culture Programme of the European Union. The project is based on the knowledge that the theatre buildings of the past 400 years, although they may look very different, have a common root: the opera houses that were invented in Venice at the beginning of the 17th century and subsequently spread across all of Europe. The theatre building counts among the very few types of buildings that one can find everywhere in Europe, thereby making the theatres an important part of our common European cultural heritage. How this heritage has developed, one can learn by following the "European Route of Historic Theatres"
The routes of the European Route
The Channel Route connects the UK's oldest working theatre in its original form - the Georgian Theatre Royal in Richmond (1788); the Theatre Royal, Bury St Edmunds (1819), as well as the private theatre of the opera star Adelina Patti at Craig-y-Nos Castle in Wales (1891) with the oldest theatre in the Netherlands, the Schouwburg in Leiden (1705/1865), and three special theatres in Belgium: the Théâtre Royal du Parc (1782) in Brussels, the luxurious Opera in Gent (1840/1887) and the palace theatre in Chimay (1863).
The German Route includes palace theatres, spa theatres, and municipal theatres mainly from the 18th century: the Theater Putbus (1821) on the island of Ruegen, the Playhouse in Neubrandenburg (1794), Fredrick the Great's theatre (1769) in the New Palace of Potsdam-Sanssouci, the theatre conceived by Goethe in the spa of Bad Lauchstaedt (1802), the private theatre at Kochberg palace (c. 1800), the Ekhof Theatre in Gotha (1681/1775), the Theatre Museum in Meiningen that houses fantastic stage decorations from the late 19th century, the Margravial Opera House (1748) in Bayreuth, the Ludwigsburg palace theatre (1758/1812), the Rococo Theatre in Schwetzingen (1753), the Comoedienhaus in the spa of Hanau-Wilhelmsbad (1781), and the theatre in Koblenz (1787).
The Nordic Route focuses on the bourgeois 19th century - after a royal start in Stockholm, including the court theatres of Ulriksdal Palace (1753) and Drottningholm palace (1766). So the route continues in Sweden with the barn theatre in Hedemora from 1829, the Old Theatre in Vadstena near lake Vattern (1825), and the Municipal Theatre in Ystad (1894); with Fredrikshalds Teater from 1838 in the Norwegian city of Halden; and in Denmark with the public theatre from Elsinore (1817) that has been moved to the museum city "Den gamly By" in Arhus, the palace theatre in Copenhagen (1767/c. 1850) that houses the national theatre museum, and the theatre in Ronne (1823) on the island of Bornholm.
Opera tour and touring exhibition
Other parts of the project are the opera production "Moving Handel" that has toured theatres along the European Route, and the touring exhibition "Magic of the Theatre" that features stage machinery from the age of Baroque and the theatres where it has been preserved until today. This exhibition is currently on show at the Ducal Palace in Sabbioneta (Italy), open every day except Monday 9:30-13:00 and 14:30-17:00.
The project leaders
The project was initiated by PERSPECTIV, the association of historic theatres in Europe. PERSPECTIV and its partners - the Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds (UK), Vadstena-Akademien (S), and the city of Sabbioneta (I) - as well as the theatres and institutions taking part want to highlight the common basis and the variety of this European cultural heritage and make it accessible for as many people as possible. Cross-border activities between the theatres are encouraged while the European Route is being developed.
PERSPECTIV, a not for profit association, is a Europe-wide network of people responsible for historic theatres, other experts in this field, and laymen.
PERSPECTIV advocates the preservation, restoration, and adequate usage of as well as research on historic theatres in all of Europe.
PERSPECTIV was founded as a European organization in 2003; the members hail from 16 countries, as well as from the USA and Canada.
PERSPECTIV has its seat at the Goethe Theatre in Bad Lauchstaedt (Germany). The director of the Goethe Theatre, Mr Bernd Heimuehle, has been serving as President since 2003.
More pearls on a string: The Channel Route of theatres - PDF
The Channel Route - Belgium, the Netherlands & The UK