Welcome to the city theatre of the future!| 17 May 2018
As globalisation advances and the world becomes ever smaller, many people have a nostalgic feeling for borders, a desire to retreat and return to the past. The sort of city theatre that we envisage stands in an area of tension between these opposing movements. Theatre is always local and live, it is a repetition and acting out of what is past. But theatre is also a place where the components of a complex present fall into place – and above all a place for experiments for the future. The sort of city theatre that interests us is situated between tradition and utopia. It does not remain on the stage where it was rehearsed, but goes on international tours. And it brings the world’s issues to the city.
We and our actors will travel to Northern Iraq and the Congo for research and presentations. We provide a platform for actors and non-professional performers of various nationalities and languages. We make our plays together: together with everyone involved, together with the public, in a constant interaction with society. We are after all not only interested in the canon of classic dramatic literature, but also – and above all – in the world we live in. We shall seek out new, contemporary classics, the myths, tragedies and contradictions of our era. ‘It’s not just about portraying the world anymore. It’s about changing it.’: this is written down in the Manifesto for Ghent, in which, on the basis of concrete rules, we give shape to the idea of a
political, mobile and creative ‘city theatre of the future’.
Our first season covers this broad range of interest. The world comes to Ghent, Ghent beams out into the world. It is with pleasure that we are bringing Luk Perceval, that master of Flemish theatre, back to Ghent. In the course of the next three years he will be throwing himself into three dark chapters in Belgian history, starting with colonial history in Black. Miet Warlop and Lies Pauwels are two Ghent artists who tour internationally and who will be working with us: Miet Warlop is making a performance-choreography inspired by traditional dervish dances. Lies Pauwels is developing a theatre production about human sensitivity with people who suffer from chronic pain. Ersan Mondtag, the best known of the young generation of German directors, will develop a new play at NTGent. And Faustin Linyekula, star of the international dance scene, will be looking at the history of dance in the Congo, his native country, and at the question of how, following that country’s independence, a national ballet company had to contribute to the quest for identity. This piece by Linyekula continues our series of Histoire(s) du Théâtre, where in each season an artist examines the history of theatre – or his own personal theatre history. This series opened with Milo Rau’s La Reprise in May 2018, as part of the Kunstenfestivaldesarts. In his first season as artistic head of NTGent, Rau intends to direct an Oresteia for our times, based on the great trilogy of classical Greek tragedies. He is also going to rewrite Compassion, the play he wrote for the Schaubühne Berlin, and restage it in Belgium and the Netherlands. And he will open the season with a major project on and for Ghent which gave rise to controversy – even in parliament – from the very moment the idea was launched: in Lam Gods (The Lamb of God) the characters and stories from the most famous painting in Belgium will be recreated with actors from the ensemble and inhabitants of Ghent.
In addition to these productions, we are offering an extensive programme of guest performances by both international stars and local performers, in both popular and experimental formats. We shall be presenting or co-presenting more than 40 productions, by artists and groups such as BERLIN, Jan Decorte, El Conde de Torrefiel, Ossama Halal, Sanja Mitrović, Needcompany, Josse de Pauw, SKaGeN, Johan Simons, Meg Stuart and Wunderbaum. NTGent cooperates closely with other Ghent houses, especially CAMPO and Vooruit, and with
other Flemish theatres including KVS and Toneelhuis.
We overcome the Belgian language barrier by entering into a long-term collaboration with the Théâtre National Wallonie Bruxelles, we invest in co-productions with partners in several countries, including the Internationaal Theater Amsterdam, the Schauspielhaus Bochum and the theatres in Cologne and Stuttgart, and cooperate with the Münchner Kammerspiele, the Roma-europa Festival in Rome, the Theaterfestival Boulevard in Den Bosch, the Théâtre Nanterre-Amandiers and the Théâtre Vidy in Lausanne, the West Kowloon Cultural District in Hong Kong and many others. Being a truly inclusive theatre, we are now also launching a long-term collaboration with the German-Swiss performance group Monster Truck, which specialises in working with the differently-abled. As artists in residence, apart from Luk Perceval, who as well as his stage productions will also be developing new participatory formats for actors and spectators, the Dutch artist Renzo Martens and his European-Congolese Institute for Human Activities will also be involved in our work, as will Chokri Ben Chikha’s company Action Zoo Humain – which is preparing an alternative ‘people’s pavilion’, among other things, for the world exhibition in Dubai.
And of course, in addition to the extensive programme of theatre we shall also be continuing the political commitment for which Milo Rau is well known: with The Art of Organizing Hope, Victoria Deluxe will be setting the pace for a conference attended by activists from all over the
world, the curator Lara Staal is working on a series of performances on the great fundamental values of Europe and Milo Rau will continue with his General Assembly, a world parliament to give a voice to the oppressed and to tackle the major questions for the future together. It started in Berlin in 2017 and will now be organised in São Paulo, but can be watched by live streaming in Brussels and Ghent. NTGent not only offers a unique mix of its own productions,
ensemble theatre and classical theatre, guest appearances, performances, political commitment and international tours. It will also above all be an open house, ready to hear
your suggestions and initiatives. We shall invite students for master-classes, and we see ourselves as ‘The Flemish Factory’, combining productions and tours, independent theatre and repertoire, dramatic art, theoretical discourse and political commitment, with an eye to a ‘global realism’. There is plenty to do, lots to learn, and much to see. Just as General Assembly demands ‘democracy for everyone and everything’, our credo is ‘Theatre for everyone and everything!’ We want you to feel welcome and be part of the city theatre of the future!
Milo Rau, Stefan Bläske, Steven Heene
and Nathalie De Boelpaep