Chokri Ben Chikha
Chokri Ben Chikha (born 1969) is an actor, dancer, choreographer, performer and dramatist. He is artistic lead at Action Zoo Humain and teaches and researches at the KASK in Ghent, where he obtained his doctorate in the arts in 2013.
Together with his brother Zouzou Ben Chikha, he founded Union Suspecte in 2003. Their theatre company attracted international attention, for example with Chokri's family triptych De Leeuw van Vlaanderen (2003), O.L.V. van Vlaanderen (2005) and Broeders van Liefde (2007).
In 2009, he founded Action Zoo Humain, a company that plays with polyphony and explores how theatre can directly affect reality, without losing sight of its poetic potential and self-criticism. In his State of Theatre during the 2018 Dutch Theatre Festival, Chokri brought this vision to the stage in a controversial way.
Chokri questions the tension between ethics, identity and neoliberalism: he identifies these concepts as three of the most important challenges of the 21st century. These ideas came together in the Truth Trilogy: Join The Revolution (2015), Amnesty (2018) and The Truth Commission (2013–2018), which were performed in old courts and in the Belgian Senate.
With his students in Maastricht, Ghent and Barcelona, he actively works on questioning and updating the repertoire of Action Zoo Humain. In this way, younger generations develop a critical attitude towards their own theatrical performances. In the season '21-'22, the performance Flemish Premitives by Action Zoo Humain and Chokri will premiere in NTGent Schouwburg.
In the coming years, he will focus on the theatre productions De Waarheidscommissie.NL (working title), Barça 2024, Jeruzalem (aan de Schelde), Zwarte huid, witte maskers and FAUST, with performances in Belgium and abroad.
- update March 2022
Action Zoo Humain
Action Zoo Humain also regularly takes the stage as artist in residence. Over the years they have performed the shows at NTGent: Amnes(t)ie, the spin-off Amnes(t)ia and also Dihya and Métisse. In the summer of 2021 they organised a last supper to celebrate the end of journalism. With the production Testament of a Journalist, host Hugo Camps said goodbye and opened his will. During the 21'-22' season they present Flemish Primitives where six young performers, together with director Chokri Ben Chikha, look for the new Flemish Master of tomorrow.
Action Zoo Humain is an independent, dynamic and committed theatre company. It focuses on artistic development and produces performances. It examines the extent to which theatre can intervene directly in reality without losing sight of its poetic potential and self-criticism. In this way, it increases the playability of society. The organisation uses the historical concept of the 'zoo humain' as an (investigative) instrument to question ethnic, religious, political and economic conflict zones.
Action Zoo Humain operates as a company that puts multi-voicedness and representation in the foreground. In this way, the organisation functions as a bridge builder between artists/academics, the artistic/social-artistic sector, new talent/experts and between individual artists and cultural houses. This is based on the conviction that an (artistic) project is not only justified by its own content, but also by the network in which the project is established.
In recent years, Action Zoo Humain has developed from an organisation around the course of maker/director Chokri Ben Chikha to a broader shared platform of new makers, with room for research and development. The different makers find themselves in a number of common ideas and strategies to make theatre that is fed by and focused on social reality.
Action Zoo Humain works locally and internationally, plays both large and small venues and also intervenes in the public space. It focuses on long-term projects but also reacts in real time to current events.
- update February 2022