Our cities, with their issues of liveability and sustainability, diversity and mobility, are the biggest challenges for our future. Since the corona pandemic, this awareness has intensified. UNLOCK THE CITY! is a European project that aims to link theatre practice to scientific research. Based on multidisciplinary collaboration, UNLOCK THE CITY! wants to instigate sustainable development processes in the post-pandemic city.
The research project will run for three years (1 March 2023 - 28 February 2026) in six different countries (Belgium, Czech Republic, Italy, Norway, Romania and Spain). The project is a collaboration between four theatres with a strong international profile (Piccolo Teatro in Milan, Teatre Lliure in Barcelona, Teatrul Tineretului in Piatra Neamt and Toneelhuis in Antwerp), two academies of scenography (Høgskolen i Østfold in Fredrikstad and Akademie muzickych umeni in Prague) and a university programme for architecture and urban development (Politecnico di Milano).
In four cities (Antwerp, Barcelona, Milan, Piatra Neamt), research is being done on the concept of ‘border’ (economic, social, physical...). This research takes place on three different levels: urban space, the urban community and the relationship between the urban area and the theatre.
Through a close collaboration between artists, theatre makers, students, university professors and experts from different disciplines, UNLOCK THE CITY! promotes: (1.) the creation and production of 12 theatre shows by 10 European artists (2.) field research and landscape study in the post-pandemic city (3.) workshops and work placements for university students.
These activities contribute to a macro-level objective of the project: generating qualitative and observable development in terms of the liveability, accessibility and sustainability of urban space in the post-pandemic city, through the active involvement of urban communities, institutions and governments.
Like the urban model it aims to realize, UNLOCK THE CITY! is an open project that seeks to contribute to the European Union's Green Deal policy through the use of a replicable methodology and the formulation of concrete proposals for action.
In the 2023-2024 season, Toneelhuis is contributing to UNLOCK THE CITY! with the location project Seefhoek Series by Thomas Verstraeten and the performance Honderd by Bart Van Nuffelen / MartHa!tentatief. Author and cultural sociologist Pascal Gielen is our local expert and contact for the artists and academic partners of the project.