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Yves Degryse, Barbara Raes and Melih Gençboyaci new artistic directors of NTGent

| 4 July 2023
City Theatre NTGent is proud to announce the appointment of Barbara Raes, Yves Degryse and Melih Gençboyaci as new artistic directors, succeeding Milo Rau.

City Theatre NTGent is proud to announce the appointment of Barbara Raes, Yves Degryse and Melih Gençboyaci as new artistic directors, succeeding Milo Rau.

NTGent's new artistic leadership is a trio: Gençboyaci, Raes and Degryse together usher in a new chapter for the city theatre and will be jointly responsible for NTGent's artistic policy in the coming years.

The brand-new artistic leadership clarifies that it stands for multi-voiced, shared and caring leadership.

 "NTGent has evolved from a city theatre with a fixed ensemble to a house of makers with diverse voices and artistic practices. This brings a rich palette of questions, challenges and perspectives. Therefore, we believe that this multi-voicedness should also be present in artistic leadership.

An ambitious policy plan with strong house-makers (Luanda Casella, Lara Staal, Milo Rau) and artists in residence (Ontroerend Goed, Miet Warlop and Action Zoo Humain) that will ensure local embedding as well as international appeal is presented. BERLIN (directed by Degryse) will be one of NTGent's new in-house producers. At the same time, we will design new formats and trajectories for the further development of the artistic practices of young makers. The new artistic leadership will implement the policy plan but will also gently transform its own course with a few clear injections:   

The movement of producing, spreading and programming internationally brings the stories of the city to the world and the stories of the world back to the city. In the future, we would like to claim the city itself as an important movement space and playground alongside the theatre / stage. Together with the current and future creators of NTGent, we want to curate meeting spaces in the city in which audiences, interests, stories, languages and bodies can interact alongside, with and for each other. BERLIN's future plans focus on the city in both form and content (e.g. Our Private Lives, a new creation in the public space). By definition, Beyond the Spoken's artistic practice (creating new rituals) seeks other ways of engaging audiences by designing processes for production, participation and presentation together with the public." (Raes, Degryse, Gençboyaci)

After the announcement of Milo Rau's departure, NTGent's Artistic Advisory Board (*) launched an intensive procedure to lead to the appointment of a new artistic director. A broad survey of staff, the artistic team, national and international stakeholders resulted in a supported profile that was converted into a vacancy to which more than 30 candidates responded. During the consultation round, everyone was given time to clarify their personal views on a new artistic direction. A series of interviews and an assessment finally resulted in a unanimous choice.

"Raes, Degryse and Gençboyaci emerged from this procedure as the most suitable candidates, because they are taking a new direction within NTGent's policies, both locally and internationally. It is also important that they want to make participation, development and diversity a spearhead"

(Bram Van Oostveldt, chairman of the Artistic Advisory Board (*)).

Jeroen Vanden Berghe, chairman of NTGent's Board of Directors, agrees, adding, "It is with great enthusiasm that the Board welcomes this new, multi-voiced artistic leadership to NTGent. When Milo Rau informed us that he would become intendant of the Wiener Festwochen, we deliberately started the search for a new artistic leadership. By taking ample time to speak with the staff and artistic family of NTGent, the selection committee and the Board of Directors had a good idea of the expectations. I am convinced that Yves, Melih and Barbara will live up to those expectations."

Daan Vander Steene, business director of NTGent "is also looking forward with great enthusiasm to this new chapter for NTGent with which we once again want to make, show, develop and discuss performing arts with and for our city, with and for Flanders, and with which we will once again go out into the wide world."

Milo Rau (who remains in charge of the artistic programme until the end of the 2023 2024 season) added: "I am very happy about this perfect choice which brings together a broad, very open artistic experience, an interest in the local as well as the international, and above all a strong focus on diversity; I couldn't have imagined a more beautiful continuation of my work at NTGent, and I'm looking forward to continuing with them as a House Artist from season 24/25"

Yves Degryse and Barbara Raes will start part-time from 1/10/2023, Melih Gençboyaci full-time from 1/10/2023. From 1/7/2024, the new artistic direction will work full-time for the first full season (2025-2026). That season will open with a fire ritual by Barbara Raes in our city.

 (*) Members of the Artistic Advisory Board: Stadstheater Gent | NTGent


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Yves Degryse (Oudenaarde,°1977) received his training as an actor at Toneelschool Dora van der Groen (Royal Flemish Conservatory of Antwerp) where he graduated in 2000.

As an actor, he appeared in productions by NTGent, SkaGeN (co-founder) and Comp. Marius. In 2003, Degryse co-founded the theatre company BERLIN. From the beginning, the company started from a documentary and interdisciplinary character and is considered a pioneer in international documentary theatre. The basis of its creations included Jerusalem, the North Pole, Bonanza and Chernobyl.

BERLIN had its international breakthrough in 2006 with the show Bonanza. Over the past 20 years, the company toured worldwide with 13 creations in 28 countries. In 2013, BERLIN received the Total Theatre Award at the Edinburgh Festival and in 2016 the Flemish Culture Prize (the Ultimas). Four performances were selected for the Theatre Festival: Bonanza, Land's End, True Copy and this year's The making of Berlin.

Besides the scene, Degryse has in recent years appeared in films by Felix Van Groeningen, and Tv series like the Callboys and Chantal.

At NTGent, Yves Degryse will produce new work with BERLIN as one of the house companies in the coming years. At the moment, Our Private Lives is already planned for 2025.

Within the artistic direction, Yves Degryse will assume the role of creator.

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Barbara Raes worked since 2000 as a programmer and artistic director of Arts Centres BUDA and 404. In 2014, she took time to re-energise and refocus. She trained as a facilitator of farewell rituals at Green Fuse in Totnes (UK). As a researcher (2015-2018) at KASK, School of Arts, this knowledge and experience developed her into a unique connector between art, care, farewell and rituals.

Barbara was guest curator of Theatre by the Sea #2018, for which she developed Sun Day Child. This ritual for children with a major loss experience has since been performed annually at various locations (including on Ghent's Boekentoren). In 2019, Barbara curated the programme Amen & Beyond together with Colin Van Eeckhout (Amenra). A ten-day event around mourning and loss with a big fire ritual in the Citadel Park as the end point. In recent years, Barbara Raes has also organised the international (Berlin, Amsterdam, Dublin, Antwerp and Brussels) programme U.Loss, in which she coaches artists to create and perform their own farewell rituals.

 In addition to public rituals and curatorship, Barbara founded her private practice, Beyond The Spoken. In this workshop for unrecognised loss, she creates farewell rituals together with artists for life's big and small turning points (dismissal, surgery, divorce,...). Her private practice is known for its enduring nature and artistic angle.

In NTGent, Barbara wants to open up her practice to the world. Based on the conviction that healing, connecting and caring is an important and impactful part of the Stadstheater of the future.

Within the artistic direction, Barbara Raes will assume the role of curator.

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Melih Gençboyacı (officially in original language - i without dot and c cedille)

Melih Gençboyacı studied at the Academy of Fine Arts of Dokuz Eylül University towards Theatre and started his career as an actor in Turkey. He then studied at the Mime course in the Amsterdam School of the Arts. As a performer-creator, he worked in both the Dutch and international arts field. He was one of the co-founders of both Schwalbe and Copycats. With Schwalbe, he plays their first show "Till we die" every five years until all members are no longer alive.

 Melih participated in the DAS Theatre - Extended Curation programme. His position as an immigrant, queer theatre worker began with his own research and curatorial practice with The Embassy Series. His own practice unfolded as an ongoing investigation into the function of new rituals in relation to activism, politics and art for systemic change. He has worked closely with Barbara Raes in recent years. Melih's practice as a curator focuses on rethinking the meaning of citizenship, which is inevitably fraught with his own experience in the diaspora. His situating himself between Germany, Turkey and the Netherlands does not amount to an individual identity crisis, but rather bestows upon him an intuitive knowledge of the common patterns of governmentality in two experiences of democracy. In his quest to understand what creates a community, Melih is careful not to reproduce identity politics from the point of view of a minority. Instead, he sees the processes of identification and community building as a bodily, conscientious belonging that transcends the territory of birth or diaspora. From this vision, Melih invites other thinkers and artists who also struggle with the meaning of borders - geographical as well as artistic, disciplinary, ontological, intellectual, affective and sexual. Since 2019, Melih has managed to translate the developed tools of The Embassy Series into his position within Productiehuis Theater Rotterdam as Artistic Coordinator/Curator where he created space for the further development of new generation of makers within TR, from a local base in Rotterdam with (inter)national ramifications. In addition, he retrained as a confidant. Melih is proud artistic core member at the Academy for Theatre & Dance's directing course and is involved as advisor/mentor at various arts organisations within and outside the Netherlands.

Within the artistic direction, Melih Gençboyaci will take on the role of developer.