One of the spearheads of theatre company Action Zoo Humain, artist in residence at NTGent, is confronting Western cultural heritage with the reality of a multi-voiced world. In Flemish Primitives, director Chokri Ben Chikha took a group of young dancers to Dubai to test the utopia of social engineering. In Persians, he explores the empathy of four art students.
Ben Chikha and the students engage in a theatrical work that marks the starting point of the Western canon: The Persians. Following the Greek tragedy writer Aeschylus (who himself fought the Persians), he explores the boundaries between art and reality, opportunism and empathy.
(read more below the video)
In his search for a contemporary translation of the historical feud between the Greeks and the Persians, Ben Chikha bumps into the conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians. Not coincidentally, also a territorial, religious and cultural struggle. When he invites an Israeli scholar and a former Palestinian bodyguard of Yasser Arafat during a master class, the whole project begins to waver.
Do the students succeed in looking at a contemporary conflict differently through the lens of this Western tragedy? And what is the role of Ben Chikha himself as an 'engaged' artist? Is his projection of the Western canon gratuitous and selfish? What value do reinterpretations of the classics still have? And above all, who benefits?