Belgium is a country very much separated by two languages. This separation is very apparent in the two different theatres in the country, which have very little contact. One thing is clear, however: while the two major playwrights in Belgium in the twentieth century have been French-speaking ( Maurice Maeterlinck and Michel de Ghelderode), the bases for their plays have been the more spiritual and mystical area north of Flanders.
The French-speaking theatre in Belgium is centered in Brussels; in addition, there is now a very highly regarded company in the Louvain-la-Neuve. The main French-speaking theatre is the Théâtre National de Belgique, Bruxelles. Founded in 1945, it serves not only its home city but the Walloon area as well, and it also appears in the important festival at Spa. There are a number of so-called Les Théâtres agrées (or officially recognized theatres), which maintain a permanent company of at least eight actors and are subsidized by both city and national governments. In addition, a number of experimental companies receive help. The theatres in French-speaking Belgium have a tendency to be independent of one another.
The Flemish theatres are very much in contact. They even publish a yearbook, Teater Jaarboek voor Vlaanderen, which is a record of all the theatre activities in Flanders and is published under the auspices of the Minister van Nederlandse Kultuur. The principal Flemish companies are in Antwerp, Ghent, and Brussels.
In addition, the government in Flanders subsidizes Grote Repertoiregezelschappen (established repertory companies), which must do at least eight plays each season. The government also issues grants for touring companies ( Antwerp has a very good one), small studio companies, and experimental and educational theatres.
The Flemish companies have much more varied programs than the French and one added advantage. Flemish companies seem more welcome in the Netherlands than are the French ones in France. Dutch companies also play in Flanders with some frequency.