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1. What is the Information Centre for Drama in Europe (ICDE) ?
2. What does www.playservice.net offer?
3. Editing, structure and selection of searchable information
4. playservice.net: a endlessly expandable database network
5. A brief history of ICDE
6. Summary and Outlook

1. What is the Information Centre for Drama in Europe (ICDE) ?
Throughout Europe, there are a number of national and international projects devoted to the exchange of contemporary drama. In nearly every European country there are theatres, theatre festivals and organisations that concern themselves with foreign drama. Nonetheless, it remains difficult to research new plays and their translations. Although databases containing information about dramatists and translations often exist at the national level, these are seldom accessible to those who are not industry professionals. Furthermore, such databases seldom contain information pertaining to the translators. Thus, it is rarely possible to make a qualitative assessment of the translations through such databases.

The ICDE with its Internet portal www.playservice.net was created in order to bundle together Europe's scattered information on contemporary drama -- and to increase the possibilities for contact and exchange among authors, translators, dramatists, theatre institutions and other interested parties. The main tasks of the ICDE include the scheduling of regular work meetings as well as the maintenance of the Internet portal and the updating of its database.

Founding partners are located in Finland, England, Germany, France, and the Netherlands:

- the Finnish Theatre Information Centre (TINFO)
- Gate Theatre London (GATE)
- the International Theatre Institute, German Centre (ITI-Germany)
- Maison Antoine Vitez
- the Theatre Instituut Nederland (TIN)

Through the support of the European Union's "Kultur 2000" program, the ICDE's initiators were able to make the project a reality in 2003/2004. After the completion of the pilot phase, ITI-Germany assumed overall coordination of the project. Since 2006, new partnerships have been established in the Czech Republic and in Poland; in Great Britain, the University of Hull will continue the work begun by Gate Theatre London.

2. What does www.playservice.net offer?         >TOP<
Playservice.net is an Internet portal with two main domains of content.
First: There is an information section containing short descriptions and links pertaining to organisations, theatres and projects that concern themselves with contemporary drama in ICDE countries.
Second: There is a research section for drama and drama translation. A central search function makes it possible to find translations in various national databases.

The website lists information regarding plays that have been staged at least once and that have been translated into at least one other language. Among other data, entries contain a synopsis, performance history, the author, translator, and rights holder as well as contact information. In the forefront are the translations - and therefore the translators. The goal is to make available their work biographies as well as their contact information.

Data compilation is carried out in reverse chronological order. The texts are not made available as downloads; they can be acquired by contacting the listed publishers, agencies or rights holders.

3. Editing, structure and selection of searchable information


The searchable information that appears on www.playservice.net is imported from the various data collections of ICDE's partner organisations. Most often, each partner organisation collects information pertaining to plays and translations that relate to works created in that country's language. Likewise, the partner organisations incorporate translations from other languages into the respective national language; these are submitted to playservice.net as well. It is incumbent upon each partner organisation to edit their data for exportation to playservice.net.

TINFO - Finland and TIN - Netherlands have collected information pertaining to the most important contemporary drama from the year 2000 to today; furthermore, this has been augmented by information from before 2000.
GATE - England has compiled translations of the most important prevailing British contemporary plays since the year 2000.
ITI - Germany has created a database that, alongside German plays and their translations, also contains all premiers in the German-speaking region since the 2004 season. All Goethe Institute-sponsored translations have also been incorporated.
Maison Antoine Vitez - France has been primarily concerned with adding translations into French to the database. A cooperation with SACD (Société des auteurs et compositeurs dramatiques) is planned.
The Theatre Institute in Warsaw as well as the Theatre Institute of the Czech Republic have joined the ICDE as new partners, and their data collections are being made available through playservice.net.

4. playservice.net: a endlessly expandable database network


For the search function, no existing technical solution could be relied upon. Therefore a concept was developed that not only accounted for varying database structures, but also made it possible for organisations without a database to input data, all while allowing relative ease in further data maintenance.

The following were developed: the central database playservice.net, an import module to the central database for the existing databases in Finland, France and the Netherlands as well as a "portable" database for Gate Theatre London and ITI-Germany.

The "portable" database includes an import module, which in the future could be extended to interested parties that would like to take part in the playservice.net project, but do not yet possess their own database systems. The extension of playservice.net is unlimited and potential partners can be linked up to a Europe-wide - or even world-wide - information system with minimal expense.

5. A brief history of ICDE       >TOP<

Feb. 2004 The Theatre Instituut Nederland invites all project partners to a first meeting in Amsterdam. Together, an implementation plan for the concept is created. The portal's structure and content are worked out and concrete objectives formulated.
June 2004 From 16 to 19 June in London, the Gate Theatre hosts the ICDE Symposium "Joining the Dots" for project leaders, which is part of the presentation of the Gate Translation Award. Alongside representatives of the ICDE partner institutions, other international guests from Sweden, Ireland, Lithuania, Romania, Hungary and Portugal as well as representatives of the British theatre scene take part in the symposium. Here ICDE uses the opportunity to present their editorial and technical intentions for the first time and to exchange ideas with the guests during discussion sessions.
June - Nov. 2004 playservice.net is created. The first entries are made in the database.
Nov. 2004 At the meeting in Montpellier, which is organized by Maison Antoine Vitez, the pilot phase of the project is concluded.
Nov. 2004 ICDE receives confirmation of a one year sponsorship from the sponsorship branch of ITI-Germany. Thus, ICDE and playservice.net gain support through 2005 and regular operations begin. ITI-Germany proceeds with webhosting, development and maintenance of the central database and continues the editorial work.
Nov. 2004 -March 2005 In the test phase, the first partner databases are connected to playservice.net.
March 2005 playservice.net goes online.
March 2005 ITI-Germany hosts an ICDE meeting. Also, ITI-Germany carries out a symposium with the title "Contemporary drama - nationally supported, internationally sought. New expectations for the text?", which takes place amid the International Translator Workshop during the Mühlheimer "Plays" festival. Authors, translators, publishers and festival organizers discuss the influence of changing production conditions, the rising number of co-productions and the strong influence of festivals upon the work of authors and translators.
June 2006 At the biannual theatre festival in Wiesbaden ("New plays from Europe"), a meeting of the founding members of the ICDE is held.
July 2006 The introduction of an "advanced search" function and other technical improvements for playservice.net and the ICDE partner database takes place.
Oct. - Dec. 2006 A documentation of ICDE - playservice.net is compiled for a print version and as a Wiki.
March 2007 New partner organisations join ICDE: the Theatre Institute in Warsaw and the Theatre Institute of the Czech Republic.
June 2007 ICDE partners and programmers, as well as other ICDE interested parties, meet for a joint summit in Berlin at the "ICDE programmers meeting" and the "playservice.net future panel." It is decided to institute the technical transformation of playservice.net to UTF8 and to introduce a Wiki forum for ICDE partners.
Dec. 2007 For improved support of special characters, playservice.net is converted to the ISO standard UTF8.
Jan. 2008 to present Along with the conversion to UTF8 and the accompanying technical restructuring of all ICDE partner databases, the information in the playservice.net category "organisations and projects" is expanded and restructured. Also information from countries that are not yet members of ICDE is integrated. The next goal is a technical solution to the integration and automatic updating of the "organisations and projects" category.

6. Summary and Outlook         >TOP<
Through the establishment of ICDE and the construction of playservice.net, it is possible for the first time to search for plays and their translations on a Europe-wide basis. A virtual catalogue has been created, which has made possible the distribution of mostly unpublished plays across national borders. The service helps overcome language barriers and gives free access to users and partners organisations.

In summary, it can be said that ICDE and playservice.net have proven to be valuable instruments in the exchange of contemporary drama. The initiative has been positively received by authors, translators, theatres, publishers and organisations across Europe and is continuing to find broad support. It has created a platform that has increased the mobility of plays across national borders and it serves as a starting point for the on-going work that spans multiple frontiers.

New partner organisations in Poland and in the Czech Republic are already working toward their integration with ICDE and playservice.net. Further partnership are planned with interested organisations in Slovakia, Sweden and Italy. Furthermore, playservice.net could expand beyond Europe, with potential partners in Israel and Canada.

For further information, please contact:
Information Centre for Drama in Europe (ICDE)
c/o ITI Germany
P.O.B. 41 11 28
12121 Berlin
Phone +49 30 791 17 77
Fax +49 30 791 18 74

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