PROTECT ME FROM WHAT I WANTIn our last two seasons, RE:THINK and RE:MAKE provided political and philosophical leitmotifs for our programmes. In 2015-2016, we focused on philosophy and theoretical reflections: timeless and free thought that resists its own economic commodification. In 2016-2017, we explored a new political imagination, new ideals of social engineering, new political narratives that might replace pure calculation. RE:RITE, in 2017-2018, will be the third part of this series. Once again Kaaitheater, as an arts centre, wishes to attempt to question the extreme depoliticization of society, through lectures and productions.
‘There is no alternative!’ – the statement with which Margaret Thatcher launched this depoliticization in the eighties – has become the central slogan of the neoliberal regime.
The German-Korean philosopher Byung-Chul Han suggests that resisting is so difficult because the neoliberal regime employs what he calls psycho-politics. People are no longer subordinate to or the plaything of circumstances in which discipline, obedience, laws and duties alienate them from their work. No, the new high-performance society consists of opportunities that they can take, if only they have enough responsibility, motivation, optimization, and initiative. This regime does not ruin us through external threats, but through excessive positivity and over-activation within. Our psyche has been discovered to be a source of production. It is an ingenious system of self-exploitation combined with the illusion of individual freedom. As the American artist Jenny Holzer once wrote: ‘Protect me from what I want’. How can you resist something that you think you want?
As a possible counter reaction, Han advocates a revaluation of the contemplative. Bring the neoliberal positivity machine to a halt to create time and space! Time and space in which meaning can surpass knowledge, use is prioritized over consumption, impartiality supresses economic expediency, the playful hand is joined to the working hand, an event is more meaningful than the project, in which ‘not doing’ or ‘not knowing’ also have value, and in which the negative can be looked in the face, even unto death. We are focusing on that Vita Contemplativa for the entire 2017-2018 season. RE:RITE winds through our programme like a chaplet of contemplative practices, new rituals, and spiritual inspiration. We'll be swept along on cyclical tides, from one season to the next.
Touching on daily rituals
We will re-open 2017-2018 - start anew - at dawn on 21/09, when Brussels’ spiritual urban community The Monastery is coming to the Kaaistudios. To mark the beginning of the winter, around 21/12, we are inviting artists who explore sleep, those brief periods of time when we don’t need to be productive (WE:SLEEP).
We are taking time to revisit one of the basic principles of the theatre: the ritual. Traditional rituals have lost much of their power in Western society. And yet, there is a great need for ritualized moments. What might these new rituals be in our current, ‘fluid’ times in which everything has become more fleeting and transient? In RE:RITE, we are providing tools and writing scores for new, contemporary rituals. We will explore a number of transitional periods: not only from one season to the next, but also from childhood to adulthood, from health to sickness, and from life to death. In Our Daily Death, we are welcoming artists and scientists who consider death to be part of our daily life. How can we rethink the symbols and rituals related to death so that they are more connected to life?
Besides life’s great transitional moments, we will also investigate more minor changes, such as everyday habits and routines. From being awake to falling asleep, from distance to nearness, from seeing to feeling, from the individual to the collective. And especially: from opposition to relation.
Kaaitheater x 40
This autumn, the Kaaitheater turns forty. The first Kaaitheater festival ran from 5 until 15 September 1977, and had to vie for media attention with the death of Elvis Presley, the German Rote Armee Fraktion, and the murder of Steve Biko. Hugo De Greef’s festival charted a new course. It was an indictment of what he called the stagnant Flemish theatre landscape, and it aimed to inspire something new, an alternative. The fact that in this case the alternative managed to endure calls for a celebration. But you will hear more about that in September!
In January 2017, we introduced six new artists-in-residence: Kate McIntosh, Christophe Meierhans,Radouan Mriziga, Vera Tussing, Michiel Vandevelde and Benjamin Vandewalle. They will have a prominent place in the Kaaitheater programme for five years. All six artists stand out for their inquiring attitude and urge to experiment. Through the diversity in their artistic practice, they gather together the preoccupations and issues of artists today. Based in their commitment to their fields of research, they each give you as the viewer an active role, either intellectually or physically. Not only in the theatre, but also in the public space.
You will be amazed by their irrepressible urge for experimentation and razor-sharp perspectives.
World and Belgian premières
In 2017-2018 we'll be presenting 12 Belgian and 11 world premières by Meg Stuart, Jan Decorte & Black Box Revelation, Rosas/Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker, Ictus, Els Dietvorst, Youness Khoukhou, Radouan Mriziga, Michiel Vandevelde, Vera Tussing, Benjamin Vandewalle and Christophe Meierhans. a.o. You can find an overview of our dance, theatre, performance and music theatre programme on kaaitheater.be.
In March we're celebrating International Women’s Day: high time for the third edition of WoWmen! It is apparent from current affairs that this focus on gender, society, and art is still necessary. Time and time again, women have to struggle for rights that we thought they had already won in the West. WoWmen! opts for ambiguity. You can expect artists who are difficult to categorize, either by discipline or theme. What are the identities you discover onstage at the intersection of gender, age, class, origin or religion?
TheaterFestival, Ecopolis, Moussem Cities
At the start of the season the TheaterFestival returns to Brussels. For ten days, the TheaterFestival is showcasing the finest productions that the theatre landscape in Flanders, Brussels, and the Netherlands has to offer. A jury of theatre experts travelled around to see shows and drew up a shortlist. In addition to the jury selection, you can also see unmissable productions from the selection of the Dutch Theaterfestival, and upcoming talent is also commanding a place as part of Circuit X.
Ecopolis is the annual encounter for anyone concerned with a sustainable future. Ecopolis 2017 investigates ways in which the digitization of society can contribute to new forms of collectiveness: Digital Together. This third edition is again bringing together national and international experts for a day of inspiring debates, workshops and documentaries at Kaaitheater.
In the annual Moussem Cities festival, Moussem Nomadic Arts Centre focusses on contemporary Arab societies and the artistic dynamism in their cities. The 2018 edition casts a spotlight on Casablanca. Artists and thinkers tell the story of their city through their work. The Kaaitheater, a permanent partner of Moussem since january 2017, stages works by a young generation of performing artists.
Partnerships in 2017-2018
In 2017-2018, the Kaaitheater continues its collaboration with Globe Aroma, a socio-artistic workplace that creates opportunities for artists/newcomers in Brussels, and workspacebrussels, workspace for live arts in their most hybrid forms.
For RE:RITE we have started a collaboration with both KAOS, who work with artists linked to the psychosocial centre Sint-Alexius in Ixelles, and TOPAZ, the VUB affiliated outpatients’ clinic for supportive and palliative care offering support to patients with incurable disease and their loved ones. The Kaaitheater is supporting their three-year artistic-participative project IN/FINITY, in which artists and the guests/patients at the centre engage in dialogue on the theme of (in)finity.
Over the years, the Kaaitheater has established a close collaboration with the VUB and its department of Theatre Studies, Crosstalks, the Brussels Studies Institute (for the Night of knowlegde on Brussels), and the Fatima Mernissi Chair.
European networks in 2017-2018
In 2017-2018, Kaaitheater is a partner in two European networks.
The Imagine 2020 (2.0) network brings together ten performing arts organisations from nine different European countries to consider the issue of climate change. The network, in which Kaaitheater is taking the lead, believes in the power of the artistic imagination to come up with new and different future scenarios. Imagine 2020 is recognised by the European Commission for a period of five years (2015-2019) in the context of the European Culture Programme.
‘The Humane Body – Ways of seeing dance’ is a pilot project aimed at more closely involving the blind and partially sighted in contemporary dance. To this end, the network offers audio descriptions and touch tours to accompany existing dance performances. The four partners also co-produce new dance work that is specifically created with and for the blind and partially sighted. The EU is supporting the network from May 2016 to November 2017.
A young K-audience
The K-team is a team of young people who love theatre and dance. For a whole year, they are being given carte blanche at the Kaaitheater and help to fire enthusiasm of other young people for contemporary performing arts. On facebook.com/kteamkaai you can follow them and find out which shows they declare 100% K-team proof. Kaaitheater offers the 'young' ticket price of €10 per show to all those under 26.
During the Arts Day for Children, we throw the doors of the Kaaistudios wide open and let children take control! Chroeographer Vera Tussing immerses them in the world of dance.
For the tenth season in a row, Kaaitheater will be organising its successfull Matinee Kadee. On five Sunday afternoons we organise creative workshops for children (4 to 12 years old). The little ones (up to 4 years old) have fun in the playroom, while their parents can enjoy the performance with their minds at rest. An afternoon at Kaai for the whole family!