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East of England theatre company wins three prestigious awards

  • Date: 2 June 2011
  • Area: South East
Actors performing in a play

Tales from a Sea Journey (2011) by New International Encounter. Credit: Jiří N. Jelinek

New International Encounter (NIE), a theatre company based in Cambridge and Oslo, has had a lot of success to smile about. The company, which is known for its unique and dynamic style of physical theatre using a European ensemble, storytelling, multiple languages and live music, is not only celebrating its 10-year anniversary, but also an impressive achievement - winning three international awards in the past two months.

NIE was selected to take part in the renowned Assitej World Congress in Copenhagen/ Malmo in May, an international festival celebrating children's theatre, with performances of Berlin1961 and workshops led by Artistic Director Alex Byrne. At the closing event of the 10-day festival NIE was awarded the prestigious 2011 Assitej award for artistic excellence. The award is only given every three years and to mark the occasion the Honorary President flew in especially from Washington to present the prize. This is the first time a UK company has been given this accolade since the award began in 1993.

The award is in recognition of NIE's innovative work in the field of theatre for young people, and acknowledges the quality and success of its work. This includes the sell-out 2010 promenade production for families Tales from the Middle of Town that was made for, and created from stories by, school children in Peterborough.

Speaking of the award Alex Byrne, Artistic Director of NIE said: 'We are really thrilled that NIE has received such an important award from a global organisation. It confirms our belief that we are making great work for young people of outstanding international quality that is appreciated around the world.'

NIE also won two other awards in April -  one for best schools touring production in Norway, presented by the Norwegian Minister of Culture for their production Everything Falls Apart, and one from the Norwegian Association of Performing Arts for artistic bravery.

NIE plans to build on this success by working on exciting new projects for young people with key UK and international partners including The Junction and The Unicorn (UK), Kopergietery (Belgium) and Odsherred Teater (Denmark).

NIE produces a high-quality touring programme and continues to develop new audiences, building strong links with regional centres of excellence. Since 2001, NIE has created 11 new productions and toured to 28 countries across three continents. 

Helen Lax, Regional Director, Arts Council England said: 'We feel it's vital to celebrate and support those art organisations that innovate and are artistically brave. This triple award win for NIE is a testament to the excellent work they produce and we are pleased the company will be extending their work with children and young people and with audiences that may have had little access to quality arts experiences'.

NIE will be taking its nautical show Tales from a Sea Journey on a national tour in November 2011 and will perform the family Christmas show Hansel and Gretel at The Junction, Cambridge from 7 December 2011 - 3 January 2012.