EFFE Laureate - International Theatre Festival Varna Summer

28 August, 2017

Location: Varna, Bulgaria
Director: Nikolay Iordanov
Dates: 2017/06/01 – 2017/06/11
Art Disciplines: Theatre
Find out more about the festivals on their EFFE Profile and the International Theatre Festival Varna Summer website.

June is the month for festivals in Bulgaria's main seaside resort city of Varna, with a whole clutch of them coming together as Varna Summer. Among the most established and important is the International Theatre Festival, of which the EFFE International Jury said that it is not made up of, “the mainstream type of shows that go everywhere to the former east countries... it's the oldest festival [of its kind in Bulgaria] but the programming is still very dynamic and it's strong in terms of audience outreach”.

Being part of the overall Varna Summer means that, “we can involve not just theatres,” says the Director, Nikolay Iordanov, “but galleries and many other spaces. We have shows in the courtyard of the Archaeology Museum, in the Sea Garden and, of course, in the streets to create a real festival atmosphere”.


Although the festival brings to the Black Sea productions that have already been seen in other parts of Bulgaria and around Europe, there are two aspects to it that make the programme far more than just an assembly of pre-presented work. The festival hosts a showcase of performances by young and non-established groups so that a specially invited selection of international impresarios can have a good view of emerging talent. This process, internal to the profession, gives the young performers the chance both to be part of a festival they might not otherwise penetrate and to get an international booking of their own.

Alongside the main theatrical events there is a parallel programme of concerts and big screen events (for example, the Metropolitan Opera's and London's National Theatre streamed productions). Nikolay's own favourite this year was, “a wonderful combination of classical and contemporary flamenco dance to an audience of over a thousand.”

The EFFE Jury were keen because it is a festival that, “at the moment is definitely on the up – up at a time we need it to be in that troubled part of the world. The fact that it keeps reinventing itself is great.” 


By Simon Mundy for EFA