In scholarly debates on contemporary theatre, the question about language has primary importance. Critics as well as scholars, interested in diversity on stage, often discuss the advantages and the limitations of using two or more languages, the working of surtitles, and the rules of hospitality when a producing company decides not to translate their productions to the host audience. (Continue reading » )
Yana Meerzon, from the University of Ottawa, attended the event.
The 16th ceremony of the Europe Theatre Prize and the Europe Prize Theatrical Realities took place from December 12 to 17, 2017, in Rome. The event included presentations of the artists’ work, public discussions, round-tables and selected productions.
Doing it right!
Yael Ronen, an Israeli theatre director working for the Maxim Gorki Theater in Berlin, has a reputation of one of the most socially, culturally and politically aware theatre artist of Europe. The Gorki’s latest creation – Roma Armee that premiered in Berlin in September 2017 – is a proof in point. Devised by the international team of eight performers, all ethnic Roma, this production speaks directly to the most dangerous tendencies in the post-Brexit Europe: such as rising nationalism, xenophobia and racism. (Continue reading » )
A Production of the Munich Kammerspiele winner of XIV Europe Prize Theatrical Realities, 2017
Inspired by the 1993 novel The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides and the 1999 film adaptation by Sofia Coppola, Susanne Kennedy’s production looks at the difficult issue of teenage suicide that has become a curse of today’s society. An exploration of the impossible journey through a near-death experience, the production is structured after the Tibetan Book of the Dead. It follows the death voyage of the now deceased 13 year old girl, Cecilia, from the highly religious Lisbon family in the US. (Continue reading » )
A production from Tallin, Estonia: the winner of XIV Europe Prize Theatrical Realities, 2017.
The end of the world has come, there is nowhere to go, we are trapped in our uselessness and muddy reality of being… that is the message that Theatre N099 and its performance No 43 – Filth want to convey. The statement is not new, the passion it carries is not surprising, the methods it uses are curious.
The collective “we” the company uses – both in its promotional material and on stage – is recognizable but bothering. Do we really come from mud and die in it? Are we all the soul-less golems with no faith or fear left? Is there any hope left? The Estonian directors Tiit Ojasoo and Ene-Liis Semper seem to have no positive answer. (Continue reading » )
Avignon. Dance poem by Radhouane El Meddeb: Face à la mer, pour que les larmes deviennent des éclats de rire.
A reflection on movement, music and chanting, this performance is about the pain of exile, the impossibility of return or of changing history. Radhouane El Meddeb, a Tunisian-French dancer and choreographer, dedicates his work to the people of Tunis, those who left and those who stayed behind. The central image is the sea towards which all the dancers’ gazes are directed. They come onstage, one by one, moving past each other, looking intensely at the audience, or rather at the sea.
In the first part of this one-hour show, there is not much action but rather tension and mistrust. The dancers move across the stage, stiffen their bodies, afraid to brush by each other, avoiding eye-contact. Their only point of connection is that sea, the gaze they cast towards the spectators. This sense of discomfort is transmitted to the audience as well: how do you react to action that is devoid of any internal movement?
Avignon Festival. Kalakuta Republik: An exploration of music, space and movement based on the life of Fela Kuti.
Choreography Serge Aimé Coulibaly; music Yvan Talbot; inspired by the political thought of Fela Kuti ; A production of the Faso Danse Théâtre, Halles de Schaerbeek (Bruxelles)
Born in Burkina Faso, Serge Aimé Coulibaly established his professional career in Africa. He moved to Europe in the early 2000s to re-invent himself as a European dancer and choreographer, now working in Brussels and Bobo-Dioulasso at the same time. In his subject matter and artistic devices, Coulibaly remains the patriot of his native country; he believes that an artist must remain the servant to his/her community. In his criticism of contemporary Africa, Coulibaly tirelessly asks one question – what role should or can play an artist in today’s charged world? His choreography, his dance, his personal presence on stage is Coulibaly’s response to this question.
This response transforms Coulibaly’s politics into poetry and philosophy, it brings to focus the divided self of an artist whose life style and whose audiences have become international.
Grensgeval (Borderline).Based on Les Suppliants by Elfriede Jelinek.
Directed by Guy Cassiers, choreography by Maud Le Pladec, A Toneelhuis, Antwerp production.
Migration, refugee crisis and crossing borders are among the most pressing political, social and economic issues of today’s Europe. The situation is alarming and confusing both on the level of everyday life and politically, with many people in power trying to manipulate public opinion against refugees. Politically aware artists are actively engaged in searching to contribute to their audiences’ better understanding of the new world. They seek appropriate artistic language to discuss atrocities that refugees experience and to speak to their spectators’ compassion.
Guy Cassiers is one of these engaged artists. An artistic director of the Toneelhuis in Antwerp, Cassiers has been looking into the issues of migration for the past several seasons. He not only focusses his programing on this topic but also creates events aimed at educating the subscribers to his theatre about the new European conditions, seeking to engage refugees to be more actively involved in the cultural life of Antwerp. (Continue reading » )
Ibsen Huis (La Maison d’Ibsen) Directed by Simon Stone, dramaturgy and translation by Peter van Kraaij, set design by Lizzie clachan, a production by the Toneelgroep Amsterdam
Ibsen Huis is an homage to the genius of Henrik Ibsen, the first European playwright to study the complex intricacies of human psychology and behaviour, conditioned by our follies, indulgences, and failures. However, the play is neither a simple staging of one of Ibsen’s plays, nor is it a modern adaptation. This is a new script and production inspired by Ibsen’s characters in conflict. Created and written by the director Simon Stone and the members of this company hand-picked for this project, Ibsen Huis tells a story of the modern dysfunctional family, through the 50-year span of its history. (Continue reading » )
Die Kabale der Scheinheiligen. directed by Frank Castorf (Berlin). Set design by Aleksandar Denic. Photo Christian Raynaud De Lage.
Based on Le Roman de Monsieur de Molière by Mikhail Bulgakov, with additional texts by Pierre Corneille, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Molière, Jean Racine
Frank Castorf’s reputation precedes his creations. The director-monumentalist is known for his epic adaptations of the western literary canon and innovations in stage design, specifically the use of film on stage. Die Kabale der Scheinheiligen lives up to its reputation. It presents a full range of Castorf’s directorial palette. Even if the six hour theatrical marathon might feel a little over-stretched – do we really need a clown routine with a chair for another 20 minutes? – the play is something to be experienced live at least once, and definitely here, at the Avignon theatre festival.
The story of this colossal production is based on the life of Jean-Baptiste Poquelin, Molière, his complex relation with King Louis XIV and the Catholic Church, his personal affairs, his theatrical triumphs, and his fall orchestrated by his enemies, all of it as imagined and told by the Russian-Soviet writer, Mikhail Bulgakov.