Funded by the German-Czech Future Fund, the project is a continuous development of an international cooperation of artistic and scientific institutions in the Czech Republic and the Federal Republic of Germany. The project was initiated in 2002 by Dr. Erhard Ertel and Dr. Jan Roubal of the departments of theatre studies of the Freie Universität Berlin and the Univerzita Palackého v Olomouci (University of Olomouc). The aim of the project was and is to create audiovisual documentations of contemporary theatre productions in close cooperation with German and Czech students. The international theatre festival DIVADLO in Plzeň proved to be an ideal opportunity for the aim of the cooperation. It presents a large number of Eastern European theatre productions and plays an important role in the international communication of theatre cultures of the new EU-members.
In 2008, the Janáčkova Akademie Múzických Umění v Brně (Janáček Academy of Music and Performing Arts in Brno) took over the cooperation on the Czech side. This change opened up new perspectives for practical cooperation and exchange.
Since 2010 the International Theatre Institute has been the forth permanent partner of the project. Working as public documentation centre for dance and theatre, the ITI provides a central interface for the public. In addition to the cooperation in situ during the documentation process in Plzeň, in the media library, the material may be viewed by a great number of interested persons.
From the beginning, the German-Czech project has been official and supported part of the international theatre festival DIVADLO in Plzeň. Each year, chosen guest productions Each year, selected guest performances of traditional and alternative theatre work are recorded at the festival. The final product is a series of DVDs with all recorded performances, which are used in the context of scientific education and research in both participating countries, in the context of events and exhibitions as well as the festival's public relations work.
A video archive with up to now more than 300 audiovisual documentations of theatre productions has been built up. The first ideas for the PASSAGE 23°E project arose from the experiences, contacts and results of this cooperation.