European Shakespeare Festivals Network: call 2023

21 December 2022

… spherical, like a globe; I could find out countries in her.
Comedy of Errors

This is a call for Shakespeare related performance work, from the world theatre community.

After an enormously successful first season in 2022, when 42 project proposals were received from around the world, we are delighted to announce the call for the 2023 Shakesphere programme.

The ESFN (European Shakespeare Festivals Network) brings together the key festivals across Europe who present Shakespeare from an international perspective. Its mission is to encourage collaboration across the various festivals, and to develop new opportunities and possibilities for theatre and performance makers who want to work with Shakespeare.

The ESFN is delighted to announce a competition call for a small-scale production which will be invited to the member festivals during 2023. This is a world-wide call to find the most exciting and innovative international work.

The production can be a reworking of a Shakespeare text or a piece derived from Shakespeare’s plays. It must be around 60-80 minutes in length. There must be a maximum of 5 in the total touring company and at least 2 actors – this is not a call for a solo show. There should be no touring set, basic elements such as chairs or stage blocks, can be provided by the festivals, and all props and costumes should be able to travel with the actors as standard luggage in no more than 2 normal suitcases.

The ESFN will offer two or three performances at each of the member festivals which are participating in this exciting project. For the second year, six festivals are confirmed as participating (and others may join):

  • York International Shakespeare Festival (UK)
  • York International Shakespeare Festival (UK) 24 April - 1 May 2023
  • Shakespeare Festival im Globe Neuss (Germany) 13 May - 10 June 2023
  • ltaka Shakespeare Festival (Serbia) 29 June - 6 July 2023
  • Gdansk Shakespeare Festival (Poland) 28 July - 6 August 2023
  • The Verona Shakespeare Fringe Festival (Italy) 24 - 31 August 2023
  • Craiova International Shakespeare Festival (Romania) presentation will be part of the usual season between 20 - 30 May 2023
  • There may also be an opportunity to be part of the Shakespeare Festival at Hamlet's Castle (Denmark) 3 - 13 August 2023

To apply, you must be available to perform at all six festivals.
You can find out more information about all the festivals, and their dates at

All festivals will pay the chosen company that festival’s regular performance fee for all performances given – and in addition will provide accommodation, some local transport and per diems. Once the chosen performance is announced, there will be an opportunity to discuss these conditions with each festival, and to confirm the fee and other details. The company will need to cover transport costs to each festival, and we are confident that as the winners of such a prestigious competition it will be possible to obtain travel support from national or international sources, and the ESFN will assist this in whatever way is most helpful.

As well, all the festivals will look to add value to the visit of the artists through supporting additional days in residence, meetings with other artists, tickets to performances etc.

To apply is simple

We need two documents and a short video

You should send
1) a cv of your company and your previous achievements,
2) a one page statement of your idea for this performance.
These two documents are critical as this is what all the judges may see.
These two documents should be in English.
In your statement you must confirm that you are available and able to perform at all four of the festivals who are currently participating.
If you would prefer to send a video of your one-page statement, then this must be no longer than 3 minutes. We do require your cv as a written document.
3) As well we ask you to send a two minute video in English, of you speaking to camera about your piece. If it’s a new piece, this is where you can tell us about your plans, if it’s an existing production then tell us about making it and what you’re looking to achieve. You can film this on a phone – we are not assessing video quality, nor are we going to assess the quality of your English presentation. We want to use this to find out a little more about you and how we might work with you in partnership.

In addition, you can send as much supporting material as you wish, links to online material, photographs, and films of previous productions etc, and this will also be available to the judges should they wish to see it. This material can be in any language – it would be helpful if you could label them in English, but not essential.

Applications should be sent by email to shakesphere[@] and submissions will be accepted until midnight Central European time on Friday, 30 December 2022.

The Judges decision is final, and we are unable to discuss any unsuccessful submissions with the applicants. Individual festivals may choose to contact artists with whom they would like to have further contact, but this will be outside the remit of this competition.


The call for applications is open until midnight on 30 December 2022
The successful production will be announced on 20 January 2023.

You can find out more information about ESFN and the full conditions of the call at