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MILO RAU, THE NEW ARTISTIC LEADER OF NTGENT. THE WORLD IS THE (ART) WORK Evelyne Coussens, freelance theatre journalist

His biggest fear? Boredom. That his work flattens into a predictable step-by-step plan, of which he is only the operator, 'like an old lady in a chair, finishing a pullover.' For the time being, however, Milo Rau, artistic director of NTGent, does not immediately seem to be knitting. On the contrary, the projects he sets up demand the utmost commitment and flexibility from him. Because they take place outside the safe art bubble, in the unpredictable reality of the real world.

Anyone who succeeds in capturing Milo Rau (° 1977, Bern) in one catchy sound-bite must be of good repute. Rau is a lot, and he is a lot at the same time. He is a director, filmmaker, journalist, activist and sociologist, but also an artist, artistic director, scientist, literary critic, humanist and father. On top of that, all these personas are constantly in each other’s way. Take the title 'director', which applies to Rau’s film and theatre work, only not in a very traditional way. Rau is not the 'great director', whose performances are solely driven by an inner necessity. His artistic approach is instead coloured by a far-reaching sociological interest and his methodology follows this scientific approach: he starts from what he sees around him, brings people together and observes what happens. Does this make him more of a researcher than an artist, or is it the other way around nevertheless? Is the social involvement of more importance than the drive of the artist? Rau's answer is never black and white. In his work, the social and the artistic are naturally linked; they are necessarily a part of each other. In roughly the same way, his journalistic and literary activities can hardly be separated. Try to wrap your head around that. Coming from a family where Lenin and Trotsky adorned the library and shaped by

the French Marxist sociologist Pierre Bourdieu during his studies in Paris, it’s no surprise that Rau finds himself towards the left of the political spectrum. Initially he joined the Neue Zürcher Zeitung as a journalist, but from 2000 onwards he started to stage his own texts. In 2007 he founded the International Institute of Political Murder (IIPM): a cross between a documentation centre and an artistic hub. Six permanent staff members and more than thirty volunteers carry out research into the most precarious episodes in European or global history, often linked to nationalism: the fall of communism in Romania, the rise of European jihadism, the Yugoslavian civil war, among others. Rau gets to work artistically with this detailed historical information. As a director, yes, but what he sets up are fictional tribunals, staged trials, mass movements in which his own artistic story is not central, but the collective traumas of an entire nation are. In this sense he calls himself a mediator or a facilitator: he creates a context in which these delicate historical episodes can be discussed. ‘I'm the man who makes the frame within which certain things can happen.’


And where Rau emerges, something does happen. He sets people and organisations in motion, with the intention of creating waves that reach far beyond the performance, the film or the book - far beyond the artistic product. This does not mean that Rau underestimates the power of the arts, but it does mean that the work of art is not the end point for him, but the starting point of a broader process of change. Given his intellectual background, the direction of that process can be guessed. Rau is particularly keen to give a voice to those who are in danger of being forgotten in the maelstrom of history. It has been clear to him for some time that there is a problem with the representation of vulnerable groups, both politically and artistically. The democratic institutions we know - parliaments, courts, tribunals - represent only a part of the world's population, while a large, silent mass does not see itself represented. That is why, in 2017, he set up the first edition of a General Assembly in Berlin - a world parliament - in which representatives of the Third and Fourth World in particular were able to speak. The film The Congo Tribunal (2017) also aims to make the victims of ethnic and economic violence in Congo visible and audible. Five Easy Pieces (2015), about the

7.11.2017: exactly 100 years after the siege of the Winter Palace in St. Petersburg which lead to the Russian Revolution, Milo Rau leads in a re-enactment the storming of the Reichstag in Berlin. Photo: dpa/Belga

David: Yes, I think so. I no longer work as an archaeologist, but I still think as an archaeologist. Much of my work revolves around long-term processes (colonialism, democratisation, etc.). A human life is not made up of ideas, but of objects, places, bodies. I pay a lot of attention to the material culture. In Congo, in Indonesia. But also to the design of our democracy. Is the parliamentary semicircle really the best architecture imaginable to talk sensibly about the future? Is the polling booth the best place imaginable for the will of the people to be expressed? When Westminster's new parliament was inaugurated, Churchill said, 'We shape buildings, and then the buildings shape us.’ I believe that buildings, objects, places not only frame social interaction, but also have a profound influence on it. That's why, on a remote island in the Indonesian archipelago, I ask a woman of 95 dumb questions like, "What clothes did you wear during the Japanese occupation? What language did you speak with your parents? What did you prefer to eat in the Dutch period?’ World history, after all, is mainly a matter of people eating, cooking, having sex, sleeping and dying. .

crisis of democracy in Europe. It seems as if Europe is paralysed by populist politics and expertocracy and is blind to what is happening on the other side of the Mediterranean. With General Assembly in Berlin last autumn, I tried to involve those who are really affected by European politics – even the Congolese and South African miners in the decisions of the German Parliament (which are very important to them) in a metaphorical way. How are these two issues - the crisis of representative democracy in Europe and the power relations with the former colonies – related for you? David: Europe no longer has colonies, but it still exports one particular form of democracy to every corner of the world. If Afghanistan or Congo have to democratise, then only in the way that we do: with ballot papers and polling booths and political parties and candidate lists. We send democracy as if it were an IKEA package: ready-made, conceived and perfected in Sweden, to be assembled on site. And if those countries deviate from this, the money stops. In so doing, we are forgetting that these countries often have very interesting, centuries-old traditions of collective consultation, which are often more respectful and dignified than any parliamentary debate in Europe. But no, that doesn’t count. We do exactly the same with the traditional consultation as with traditional medicine: away with it, here is the superior, Western variation. That arrogance, I can't understand it. My thinking about

Milo Rau in 2016 with Peshmerga on the front with IS near Sinjar (northern Iraq). Photo: Stefan Bläske

democracy is directly inspired by African examples: the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa, the National Sovereign Conference in Zaire, both in the 1990s. Europe can learn a great deal from this: more than the rights of the individual, it was about the needs of a society. Both countries asked themselves the question: how can we strengthen the social fabric after all that we have experienced? The fact that Europe can also learn something from Africa seems to many to be still completely new. As is often the case, the arts sector is now taking the lead: African art has been an integral part of Western theatres, museums and biennials in recent years. I said that Europe no longer had a colony. That is only partly true. Europe has a colony again: Europe itself. The way in which the European Union behaves towards the civilian population does not differ fundamentally from a late colonial administration that claims to improve the fate of the citizen, but does not want to hear the voice of that citizen. In terms of arrogance, elitism and deafness to the grunt of the masses, the EU is no less than that. I am getting angrier about it all the time. Thinking that some info evenings will make a difference, that's where we are in 2018. But if the colonies have taught us anything, it is this: emancipation without participation always leads to frustration. Anti-European sentiment that is now emerging everywhere does not differ very much from the feelings of anti-colonialism a few decades ago.

Milo: Our work has a number of interesting parallels. We both worked on Africa (and colonialism), we are both talking about the


release of The Congo Tribunal, two ministers and the governor ultimately had to resign. Moreover, Rau gave his Congo project a direct activist addition, by organising a campaign in the slipstream of the film that raised money to set up even more tribunals. In the first phase, two thousand copies of the film were made in Swahili and Lingala and sent to various Congolese regions - so that people everywhere could see that it is possible, that it is conceivable to stand up and be heard. In this way, The Congo Tribunal is evolving from a film to much more than that: it is becoming an institution in itself.


Institutions - they are the key to a fairer future for Milo Rau. It is not so much the spectacle of a big crisis that will change the world, but the gradual molting of parliaments, courts and tribunals, the institutions that support democracy. Does the rebel with its radical left-wing roots rather prefer the trickle of evolution to the clash of revolution? Not quite - as always with Rau it is a double story. Evolution and revolution are two sides of the same coin, which are only distinguished from each other by speed. A mild revolutionary has a feeling for both. A theatrical performance, for example, must be a 'bomb', a moment of intense energy, but it must not


Milo Rau in conversation with David Van Reybroeck, author, cultural historian and social critic :

Milo: We met a few years ago on the occasion of a debate about your Congo book and my project The Congo Tribunal. I still remember how you said at that first meeting, 'I studied archaeology and became a writer, and you studied sociology and now work as a film and theatre director.' How do you think such changes affect your work? Is a former archaeologist a different writer, a former sociologist a different director?

Dutroux affair, on the other hand, exposed our own Belgian trauma. From this point of view, Milo Rau could be called an artistic psychoanalyst. After all, working through and reliving the past opens up the possibility of looking at the future again. Rau is never about a reconstruction of the past itself, but about what that past causes in the present, about the emotions it evokes among participants and spectators of today. And just like psychoanalysis, Rau uses a 'symbolic order' to make this process possible because in the end, even the most bitter testimonies and historical re-enactments remain fiction. It is theatre, even though the actors in The Congo Tribunal are real victims of violence and the judges in The Moscow Trials (2014) are official magistrates. The miracle is that it is precisely these 'fake' representations of violence, the fictional trials and the re-enacted tribunals that leave their mark on the real world. The theatre version of an event sometimes has a more far-reaching effect than the (repressed) reality itself. Through the fiction, a deeper truth can be exposed, and it is this experience that causes discomfort. And controversy. The Russian government found the film recordings of The Moscow Trials already disturbing enough to send the riot police and revoke Rau’s visa. In the witch hunt after the

Season 18/19

MILO RAU Critics have called him the 'most influential' (Die Zeit), 'most award-winning' (Le Soir), 'most interesting' (De Standaard) and 'most ambitious' (The Guardian) artist of our time: the Swiss director and author Milo Rau (° 1977), and from the 2018-2019 season onwards artistic director of NTGent. He studied sociology, German and Romance languages and literatures in Paris, Berlin and Zurich, under Pierre Bourdieu and Tzvetan Todorov, among others. Since 2002 he has more than 50 plays, films, books and performances to his name. His productions have been shown at all major international festivals, including the Berlin Theatertreffen, the Festival d'Avignon, the Venice Theatre Biennale, the Vienna Festwochen and the Kunstenfestivaldesarts, and they have toured more than 30 countries worldwide. Rau has received numerous awards, most recently the Peter-Weiss Prize 2017, the 3sat Prize 2017, the Saarbrücken Poetry Lectureship 2017 for Drama and, in 2016, the prestigious World Theatre Day ITI Prize as the youngest artist ever after Frank Castorf and Pina Bausch. Rau is also a television critic and a prolific writer. His political essay Was tun? Kritik der postmodernen Vernunft became a bestseller in the German-speaking area.

‘IN THE HUSTLE AND BUSTLE OF TRAVEL AND EVER-CHANGING SURROUNDINGS, HE FINDS REST BY LITERALLY DECONNECTING: WHERE HE TEMPORARILY LIVES OR WORKS, HE PREFERS TO BE INTERNETLESS, IN ORDER TO BE ABLE TO CONCENTRATE FULLY ON PLACE HE lot in recent years. ‘In theIS.’ German ensemfew thousandTHE years ago to 200 nations to- WHERE lose that power after the premiere - it must does that: it describes certain mechanisms result in a process with a longer life span. Even provocative productions such as Breivik's Statement (2014), in which Rau has an actor read out Breivik’s self-written defence speech, must be more than a provocation. In this light, Rau has evolved, he says. ‘When I was younger, I thought the scandal was interesting in itself, but the older I get, the more I back away from it. ‘You push some buttons’, but the explosive effect disappears as fast as it has come. At the moment, I prefer to invest in projects with a sustainable life.’ This sustainability not only extends in time, it also crosses spatial boundaries. The Congo Tribunal is an important work for Rau, but anyone who asks him why he, as a Swiss person, is interested in the excesses of Belgian colonial history, is treated to a laconic question: 'Why not?’ It indicates the extent to which Rau is a global thinker - the dividing lines between the continents are irrelevant to him. His artistic, sociological and political interest can focus on any continent, it is his form of global solidarity. ‘The artificial construction of identity by means of nation states does not alter the fact that, in the end, we all live together.’ It's not a flighty statement of a confirmed leftie - for Rau it's a scientific fact. ‘The history of mankind has evolved from 50,000 small communities a

day. That is undeniably a movement in the direction of global interconnectedness.’ This dry observation fuels his plea for global realism: the idea that reality today is global, but that we lack the appropriate tools to express it. ‘One simple water bottle is made with parts or manpower from about twenty different countries. We live in a globalised world, but we have no world parliament, no world court and not a single institution that addresses the global ecological crisis at that level. That is absurd.’ In the artistic field he observes the same shortcoming. A city theatre should also testify to global realism, for example by enriching its programme with texts that fall outside the white Western canon. Rau’s own way of dealing with repertoire is already broad. In his simplest definition, for him it’s about everything that’s worth being retold. This means that in principle, everything can be or can become repertoire: an event, a painting, a tribunal, a radio show. ‘It's not about reusing a classic piece. The challenge is to make a new classic - one that's right for today.’ A second tricky point is a more representative composition of the ensemble, something that is not yet given sufficient attention by the major German-language city theatres where Rau has worked a

Lara Staal, curator:

You might think that Milo Rau’s work is documentary - which it is, of course, when you look at projects like Hate Radio, Breivik's Statement, The Moscow Trials, The Congo Tribunal and General Assembly... Yet there is more to it than that. Rau is not so interested in conveying information, but in the dramatic story that is implicit in reality. With Rau, the rules are reversed and the theatre is deepened from reality. The real duration, precise context and order are not handled with too much caution. There Rau's sociological, journalistic view transforms into that of the theatre director. Whereas The Last Days of the Ceausescus, Hate Radio and Breivik's Statement consist of compressed re-enactments, the focus of re-enactment in Raus' oeuvre has shifted to pre-enactment. History was repeated in The Moscow Trials in order to come to a better version. From a pure showcase to a sincere lawsuit in search of the truth. The Congo Tribunal and General Assembly are actual pre-enactments. In the absence of official institutions that put structural injustice on the agenda and deal with the major issues of our time, the theatre is used to taking on this role. Viewed in this way, Rau’s theatre brings more democracy into a world in which it seems to be under permanent pressure. Although these projects create a situation that has become reality through the space of fiction, the director is never completely out of the picture. With a flawless sense of opposition, speculative dramaturgy seeks out the dramatic conflict, despite the fact that it is impossible to predict exactly how and when it will occur. With a speed and conceptual sharpness, he manages to break out of the still often closed bourgeois theatre circuits with his projects. And that is perhaps the most inspiring thing: that he does not shy away from using all means possible to have his works interact with society and thus use the theatre to create alternative realities.


bles, you have to search with a magnifying glass for an actor of colour or a woman over forty years of age.’ But also in his 'own' NTGent there is still work to be done on repertoire and ensemble. The process of moving towards a dream city theatre of the future is ongoing, but it is slow, agonizingly slow for a restless, proactive personality like Milo Rau. ‘I find that pace difficult, yes. But you have to be strategic. Exercise patience as long as the tempo is slow; be ready when things speed up. Or as Lenin said: sometimes less happens in a hundred years than in one day and then in one day more than in a hundred years.’ (laughs)


Here an activist, an idealist and a realist is speaking. But is Milo Rau also a moralist, as some people claim? In any case, not in the narrow sense of the word, as in 'someone who sits in his chair not doing anything himself, but telling other people what to do.' Rau sees another, broader definition applicable to himself: that of the chronicler of morals and customs of his time. ‘When the word was first used, in the sixteenth or seventeenth century, it meant someone like La Rochefoucauld: he described how the people of his time behaved. In fact, theatre still

in society and gives you the opportunity to relate to them. In this sense, I do consider a city theater to be a moral institution.’ And so, in the words of philosopher Karl Popper, optimism is also a moral task for a city theater. The word optimism may sound strange from the mouth of a man who has been depicting the most horrible events in world history for fifteen years, but Rau likes to reply with a quote from Antonio Gramsci and his 'Pessimism of Reason, Optimism of Will'. ‘Of course, I am not happy when I look at the world today in a rational way. But that doesn't mean that I can't have the desire to change that reality.’ Concerning all the projects and creations that are running simultaneously today, Rau has to have a great deal of resilience. The direct consequence of his choice to start from reality for each creation is that every day he encounters institutions and organisations that are not willing to cooperate with his artistic plans, actors that quit, and situations that change day by day. ‘Your project can be fucked every day, on all possible levels," he admits. ‘Take the Congo Tribunal: if tomorrow our lawyers from the International Criminal Court in The Hague and the Democratic Republic of Congo decide to withdraw, everything will fall to pieces. What helps him


keep a cool head are a loyal team of seasoned employees and the private comfort of a warm family. Although it must be said that in recent years Rau has spent more time abroad than in Cologne, where his wife and two daughters live. In the hustle and bustle of travel and ever-changing surroundings, he finds rest by literally deconnecting: where he temporarily lives or works, he prefers to be internetless, in order to be able to concentrate fully on the place where he is. ‘When we were in Syria for Empire in 2016, there was no electricity in certain regions, we lived there with the rising and setting sun. It reminded me of when I was a child and my parents obliged me to turn off the light because I had to sleep. Often I was still awake for three hours in the dark, just there. I had that experience again in Syria, and it made me very happy.’ Rau avoids the internet in his house in Ghent. ‘If I don't go to a performance, I'm at home at nine o'clock and read until twelve o'clock. Not theoretical stuff, but fiction. I've always loved reading. It helps me to calm down, it frees my thoughts.


Being free and sharp, taking the time and staying on schedule, not becoming a slave to one's own projects - these are the challenges that anyone who has ever been at the

Johan Leysen, actor:

head of a large organisation can tell you. Also for Luk Perceval, who led the Toneelhuis in Antwerp (1998-2004) and was the principal director of the Thalia Theatre in Hamburg (2009-2017), but consciously returned to life as a freelancer. At NTGent he will make one production a year at Milo Rau's invitation. ‘I saw Luk's adaptation of King Lear at Toneelhuis a long time ago (L., King of Pain, 2002) and was very impressed: I especially remember that large, bare stage and the intense actor direction. I feel an affinity to Luk. He too starts from people, not from an abstract concept of directing. He takes the time to work with his actors. I envy him sometimes for that time because I feel that at this moment I often have to rush things. That annoys me because I’m at risk of becoming the enforcer of a tight step-by-step plan in which I only have to knit the ends together.’ Finishing the pullover, right. Rau hopes to be able to stay away from that worst-case scenario, especially now that he experiences that after fifteen years of work, fertile soil has arisen for his ideas. ‘More and more often I realise that I don't have to keep up with the circus in this way. I'm still lying awake over every project but over the years it’s become clear to me that there is something that works - even though people still think some of my projects are great and others are terrible.’ Moreover,

running a city theater means that Rau can no longer only occupy himself with his own work, and that feels liberating. ‘The fact that you have a whole season to fill forces you to be less egocentric. You have to have the bigger picture in mind, you are responsible for more than your own productions.’ Responsibility - perhaps that's the engine behind the complex machine called 'Milo Rau'. The responsibility to do more than make art - because art can do a lot, but it can't do enough on its own. Rau does not stand alone in this way of thinking, but is the exponent of a new generation that has been making itself heard, especially since the turn of the millennium. Whereas some fifteen years ago the artist was only expected to make a work of art, today his art is to make something that works. The distinction between 'artistic', 'social' or 'political' is blurred, as is the concrete output of the work - whether it be a performance or a book, but also a parade or a banquet. ‘Even if I involve the greatest artists of our time, I try to persuade them to make a gesture to the public, to society. The old rituals, in which everything revolves around the presence of the artist, are outdated. We don't have time for that anymore.’ As said before, Rau is not the first or only one to give meaning to his artistic practice in this broad way. But the fact that it is

precisely today that he is in charge of a big artistic institution is significant. Times are very much changing.

Colette Braeckman, Africa journalist for Le Soir, among others:

I love Milo Rau's work because of his irresistible urge to go and root out where it hurts, and because of the wonderful way in which his performances are created. It usually goes like this: the director wants to get down to work with a clearly defined given. This can be a piece, a novel, a screenplay, a text of their own, or simply an idea. The work with the actors then consists of working out the content and making it readable. Not so with Milo Rau. He makes wanderings, pluck out ideas, collects texts, places. He combines intuition and intelligence, without either quality getting in the other's way. Together with his team of actors and dramaturges, he has conversations with people who at first glance have little to do with each other, and he is confident that they will bring him somewhere, that the collaboration between professionals and amateurs will yield something new. What's more, he allows himself to be carried away by their testimonies, which causes the themes to tilt and take unexpected directions. And then invariably, there comes the moment when things grinds to a halt. It seems as if Milo Rau has the need to get himself stuck. The deadlock as a method. As if the true meaning of the performance has to be dislodged from somewhere. It is rewritten, thrown away and rethought, as a result of which the sense and power of the performance gradually emerges and only becomes visible around the premiere. This unpredictability results in a dizzying, disruptive experience. For his collaborators, but above all - and this is what it is all about in the end - for the spectators.

When Milo Rau arrived in Congo from Rwanda, where he created Hate Radio, he was one of the few who found the key to immediately understanding this apparent chaos. In Mutarule the violence grabbed him by the throat. He was one of the first witnesses of a massacre, one of many. The brutality of the mining industry touched him, as did the powerlessness of these people, who were stripped of their raw materials, their country, their decision-making power, and who for so many years have been shouting out their anger for the silence of the world. Milo Rau knows the patterns of the exploitation of people; for years he has followed the paths of injustice and deciphered the disorder of the world. But at least he wants to do something about it. Film. Illustrate. Explain. And above all, listen and then give the floor to those who are doomed to die in silence. He holds a microphone in front of them, points his camera and uses all these fragments to build up a court case, The Congo Tribunal, where everyone is summoned to appear, the victims, the witnesses, the suspects. A fictional tribunal where everything is true, where the words are sincere because they are addressed to a real audience of hundreds of people who have gathered to finally be able to listen to a history, to their own history that is given back to them, written down by contradictory witnesses and finally tried.

Milo Rau with Congolese soldiers during a research shoot for The Congo Tribunal in 2015. Photo: Fruitmarket, Langfilm & IIPM/ Eva-Maria Bertschy

Season 18/19

In this country, where international justice has not yet arrived, where local courts are often bribed or intimidated, Milo allows public opinion to express its judgement. Both the national and the international. We will not be able to say that we did not know. That the sources of the drama were not exposed. That the true culprits in the field and the distant powers 'with their clean hands' were not pointed out... At the end of this historic tribunal, only one demand emerges: there must be other trials, seemingly fictitious but real in the facts. Processes in other cities, other provinces. Step by step, case by case, impunity must give way... Milo Rau in Congo is the fight of a man who wants the truth to break through and makes everyone see their responsibility. As a committed intellectual, artist, film and theatre maker, he has already taken responsibility, and in the eyes of the Congolese, this work of testimony and solidarity already shows a beginning of healing, a ray of light in the night...

Kristof Blom, artistic director CAMPO:

The International Institute of Political Murder and the work of Milo Rau came on my radar for the first time on the occasion of the German Theatertreffen 2012. Milo was selected with his Hate Radio, and CAMPO was also there with Before Your Very Eyes. Hate Radio had a big impact on me. It was of incredible relevance at a time when (certainly here in Flanders) the performing arts had less social engagement than it does today. Hate Radio immediately triggered my admiration for the work of Milo, a special combination of documentary, journalism, film and theatre. Of course, I am proud that CAMPO was given the chance to introduce Milo Rau in Ghent. But apart from the presentation of his earlier work - the crossing of Breivik's Statement in the auditorium on Voldersstraat is one never to forget - our curiosity to work more intensively with this special artist grew. CAMPO has been working for years on a series of performances with children on stage, made for an adult audience. Future images, authenticity, fantasy... These are often used as starting points for performances with children, but if there was one maker who had something to add to this, it was Milo Rau. It became outright interesting when he came up with the proposal to work on the theme of Marc Dutroux: Five Easy Pieces became an unprecedented success, an adventure with accompanying commotion, tabloid press, censorship commissions, prestigious prizes and even more invitations to prestigious festivals. The performance has already toured fifteen countries inside and outside Europe - and the end is not yet in sight. During the creation period of Five Easy Pieces, Milo spent a lot of time in Ghent, but no one would have dared to predict that less than two years later, he would be in charge of Ghent’s city theatre. It is exciting to be able to experience first hand what an troublemaker like Milo is going to do with such a large structure. For CAMPO this means, above all, an opportunity to continue working with Milo Rau and NTGent, in other ways, with infinite possibilities. I am looking forward to it.



LAM GODS 28.09.2018 – NTGent Schouwburg



NTGent / Miet Warlop


NTGent / Milo Rau



2.08.2018 – Theaterfestival Boulevard 24.10.2018 - NTGent Minnemeers

NTGent / Faustin Linyekula


NTGent / Luk Perceval

Nathalie De Boelpaep, business director NTGent:

Like any other right-minded fan of culture, I have known Milo Rau's work for a long time, especially since it was given a permanent place at the Kunstenfestivaldesarts. I saw Breivik's Statement in the Brussels city hall, as well as The Civil Wars and Five Easy Pieces. Very different performances in style and content, with commitment and a documentary-like view as common denominator. Never gratuitous: every performance produced hours of discussion with friends and colleagues. I only met Milo two days before I was appointed to NTGent. A meeting at the train station in Cologne, there and back with the Thalys. I was a bit nervous. There was a lot to ask and to say, but because of his hoarse voice after a cold this didn't work out as he wanted. I did feel that we had good rapport and I had calmed down from his calmness. I cannot wait until we have all the time and space we need to start and deepen our cooperation. A few weeks ago, at the Buda symposium Return of the Fantastic Institution, artists, theorists and directors from all over Europe met to discuss artistic institutions and how they can be (or remain) in tune with their artistic, social and political values and ambitions. The fact that, as an institution, we have to be aware of our changing society, have a duty to respect the vulnerable and throw away our privileges, was not questioned. But sometimes I was stumped by the how, who and why. Too often, arms are thrown in the air because it is all so difficult. In Zinnema, where I worked until recently, we fully assume this responsibility, in openness and on the basis of an artistic story. If you really want to change something in how people live together and do politics, in both big and small things, then I really believe that this is possible. Together with Milo, all the other NTGenters and inhabitants of Ghent, I look forward to taking up this challenge in the coming years as true allies and making a real contribution to the beauty of solidarity.




BLACK / THE SORROWS OF BELGIUM I: CONGO 16.03.2019 – NTGent Schouwburg

NTGent / Milo Rau

ORESTEIA 17.04.2019 – NTGent Schouwburg

NTGent / Ersan Mondtag

THE LIVING ROOM 10.05.2019 – Kunstenfestivaldesarts, Brussels 16.05.2019 – NTGent Arca

NTGent / Lies Pauwels

ANATOMY OF PAIN 17.05.2019 – NTGent Schouwburg




One: It’s not just about portraying the world anymore. It’s about changing it. The aim is not to depict the real, but to make the representation itself real.

Two: Theatre is not a product, it is a production process. Research, castings, rehearsals and related debates must be publicly accessible.

Three: The authorship is entirely up to those involved in the rehearsals and the performance, whatever their function may be – and to no one else.

Four: The literal adaptation of classics on stage is forbidden. If a source text – whether book, film or play – is used at the outset of the project, it may only represent up to 20 percent of the final performance time.

Five: At least a quarter of the rehearsal time must take place outside a theatre. A theatre space is any space in which a play has been rehearsed or performed.

Six: At least two different languages must be spoken on stage in each production.

Seven: At least two of the actors on stage must not be professional actors. Animals don’t count, but they are welcome. Eight: The total volume of the stage set must not exceed 20 cubic metres, i.e. it must be able to be contained in a van that can be driven with a normal driving licence.

Nine: At least one production per season must be rehearsed or performed in a conflict or war zone, without any cultural infrastructure. Ten: Each production must be shown in at least ten locations in at least three countries. No production can be removed from the NTGent repertoire before this number has been reached.

Ghent, May 1, 2018

Milo Rau - the city theatre of the future  

English version of the De Standaard insert (March 28th). Milo Rau's ideas on The City Theatre of the Future. First publication in the new ho...

Milo Rau - the city theatre of the future  

English version of the De Standaard insert (March 28th). Milo Rau's ideas on The City Theatre of the Future. First publication in the new ho...