Question everything! A year of utopia and dissidence| 1 June 2020
And then it dropped. On April 20th 2020, the oil price dipped below zero for the first time in history. It wasn’t the only world record caused by Covid-19. The global electricity demand is set for the biggest decline ever, minus 5% this year. Meaning it’s on the lowest level since the Great Depression. In no more than a few months, a nasty virus was able to pull off what worldwide protest marches and general strikes couldn’t do: slowing down our planet. Correction: slowing down all human activities on this planet.
Going back to business as usual would be a crime
Suddenly, as a society, we remember the meaning of ‘economy’: to support life. Not to make profit at whatever cost. There is a real opportunity here to learn from this crisis, by turning it around into something beautiful. More just, more sustainable. Let’s use this ‘momentum’ as a general rehearsal for the major challenges we are facing today. Going back to business as usual would be a crime, adding insult to the tragedy of so many people who have losed somebody they loved. We too, as artists, must redefine our daily practice. We have to rethink our relationship with our audience, with our fellow citizens, with the world.
The classic mistake in the Greek tragedy: to think you're done with the past
We thought we knew the past – we didn’t. We thought we could control the present – we can’t. We thought we could plan the future – we have to think again. It’s the classic mistake in ancient Greek tragedy: you may think you're done with the past, but the past isn’t done with you. So, let’s stay humble and be ambitious at the same time. Let’s work out new rules for global solidarity, in the arts and in general. Let’s ask difficult questions and formulate inspiring answers. Why do we do what we do? Why theatre?
Let’s start again.
It’s indeed the most profound question we can ask ourselves. It turned into a megalomaniac project, asking that same question to 100 theatre makers and intellectuals from around the globe. Why theatre? Why is this art form so unique, so indispensable? From classical theatre to performance art and contemporary dance, from activism to political theatre and the performativity of everyday life… Authors from all continents and different generations replied by mailing us short essays, memories, manifestos, letters. We present their answers in a new Golden Book – our fifth already.
We turned the social and artistic isolation of the global lockdown around and started a series of online talks with artists/intellectuals/scientists. Every conversation is published every fortnight on our website. By investing in the ongoing post-capitalist debate, we aim to reconquer the future: by sharing new insights and thinking out of the box by international experts of change.
A NEW LOCAL PRACTICE
Exchanging ideas and strategies we gather in our talks and publications, we must act accordingly in our daily practice as a city theatre. Meaning: in the beautiful city of Ghent, in connection with our fellow citizens. We are exploring new formulas to open our three stages – Schouwburg, Minnemeers and Arca – in a safe way, but we will definitely go out as well and organise projects in the public space. We will do so with our house artists and our local partners, e.g. during the festival No(w)worries.
Dissident voices saying 'NO' to 'KEEP IT UP'.
On our website you will find an overview of the projects in NTGent for season 2020-2021. It’s a season that focuses on UTOPIA AND DISSIDENCE, with artists such as ...
- Luanda Casella, who exposes the violence in language and the language of violence in Killjoy Quiz.
- Peter Seynaeve and Oscar Van Rompay, who use only questions in just asking.
- Lara Staal who reaches out to youngsters who are considered ‘difficult’ in Dissident.
- Luk Perceval who reflects on the rise of fascism and authoritarianism in the last century in Yellow.
- Milo Rau, who works together with indigenous people in Brazil for Antigone in the Amazon.
- Monster Truck and Platform K create together with disabled dancers the open air performance Het Narrenschip.
- And Angélica Liddell, who is known for working with people who are considered ‘useless’ and who is making a new episode in the series Histoire(s) du Théâtre. The performance will have its opening night during Festival d'Avignon in 2021.
And, of course, we invited a number of guests as well, like Maria Lucia Cruz Correira, Firma MES, FC Bergman, De Roovers, Khadija El Kharraz Alami, Bjarne Devolder, Wunderbaum, Mokhallad Rasem and many others.
3 theme lines run through our program this season:
- New Classics: voorstellingen als Antigone in de Amazone, Everywoman, Het Narrenschip, Antigone, Wachten op Godot, Nu ben ik Medea, Het gezin van Paemel, De grond onder hun voeten, April ...
- Green Deal: voorstellingen als The biggest lawsuit, De zaak Shell, Hi Baubo, De natuur dekoloniseren ...
- Decolonise Theatre: voorstellingen als Dagboek van een leeg bed, Fire will become ashes but not now, Dihya, Nu ben ik Medea, Ouragan, Métisse ...
We look forward to seeing you all again!
In short, this season we present narratives that question the current system and say ‘NO’ to ‘Keep it up’. Because only a radical form of questioning can open up new perspectives.