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Interview with Milo Rau


Can you introduce yourself?

I’m an author, theatre and film director, sociologist, producer, activist and – last but not least – artistic director of the IIPM – International Institute of Political Murder. In the last 10 years, we produced with the IIPM – International Institute of Political Murder about 50 TV- and feature films, theatre shows, radio plays, exhibitions, political actions, discussions, video installations – always following the motto: “We know how contradictory we have to be to be really consistent.”

Do you notice a difference in audience between different countries and/or cities?

On the one hand, the international festival-system is producing an “international” aesthetic that is reproduced in many countries, so special regional traditions more and more get lost in the international context – as it is in globalized economy. On the other hand, it’s of course possible to recognize the nationality of a theatre. We are joking that in Flemish theatre for example, they always have plastic water bottles on stage, there is some tendency to minimalism and simplicity, whereas French or Spanish theatre makers like emotions, colours, live music on stage. English theatre is very text- and content-focused and German theatre is normally quite intellectual and “engaged” – that’s why in Germany a director is always also “activist”(see next question). The same with the audience: You see differences between nations, for example the German intellectualism or the Flemish minimalism is exotic in the US, the actual French live-music-Tarantino-style feels very “90ies” when it tours in Germany etc., but there is also a globalized interest in some formal or thematic mainstreaming.

What is your opinion on the social relevance of theatre?

There is theatre and there is social activism. Sometimes, the two activities join (for example when you play in some special places, with special audience), but in my experience of art, the “message” of a theatre piece or film is too confusing, too diverse too many have “social relevance”. Following our motto from the first question, we’re trying to intensify contradictions. But I think that this impossibility of art of being “socially relevant” is precisely what – on the other hand – is politically relevant: opening a space where social issues become political, where society shows its antagonistic, tragic nature – where society turns into drama (even if it is the most of times melodrama).

The show is set around a sensitive issue, Marc Dutroux, why did you choose him as a theme for the performance?

As Dutroux is sadly the most famous Belgian of the last decades, perhaps of all times, a sort of a myth, and Five Easy Pieces is developed in Belgium, it seemed quite logic to focus on that story which blends political, emotional and social levels. We can combine telling about his life with telling about society as a whole, and about theater itself, as a medium and a social practice.

Why have you chosen to let children play the roles of adults?

Making theater with children for adults already has something “voyeuristic”, it touches questions like innocence, freedom, abuse of power, education and manipulation. So the “form” and setting itself is not too far from the Dutroux-linked “content” of kidnapping, child abuse etc. Five Easy Pieces is a kind of “school of performance”, a “public hearing”: The children perform five monologues, five perspectives on the Dutroux-story, everyone dealing with another acting-problem like “showing emotion”, “playing old”, “being precise”, each monologue is introduced by a short re-enactment.


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