PuSh 2010 Curatorial Statement: Best Before
January 11, 2010
by PuSh Festival Executive Director Norman Armour and Senior Curator Sherrie Johnson
In keeping with our curatorial vision to nurture creativity, foster innovation and stimulate dialogue and exchange, PuSh commissioned the German company Rimini Protokoll to embark on a new creation for our 2010 Festival with the simple premise that the work embody the notion of futurism.
Rimini Protokoll (www.rimini-protokoll.de) is the label given to a unique triumvirate of directors: Helgard Haug, Stephan Kaegi and Daniel Wetzel. Founded in 2000, this internationally acclaimed group has created over 20 new works of theatre—all sharing a very distinct house style. Having studied together at the Institute of Applied Theatre Studies, Justus Liebig-Universität Gießen (Giessen, Germany), and working in various combinations, the three artists behind Rimini Protokoll devise new work out of the material provided by real life. They have become the central figures in a documentary movement that has taken centre stage in German theatres over the last few years.
Rimini Protokoll has a distinct vision of the world, but what stands out in their productions is their belief in the impact of their work on society. They tackle major social issues with their innovative and visionary productions—works that redefine the very boundaries of theatre. Rimini Protokoll are the change-makers in our field; they themselves represent a contemporary futurism as leaders in the documentary theatre movement. International commissions and co-productions are key to the PuSh Festival’s evolving identity. They bring new insights, ideas and approaches to the artistic milieu within which we work, as well as offering a deeper understanding of the world-at-large to our audiences.
Each and every Rimini project is developed out of a concrete situation, for a specific location and on the basis of exhaustive research. Collaborating with other professional artists, the work is conceived and created with non-professionals who, in turn, play themselves in the drama on stage. Haug, Wetzel and Kaegi refer to these found actors as “specialists,” or “experts in daily life.” In the group’s work, reality and fiction are difficult things to separate, as the actual and the imaginary shift, interact and overlap. The theatre of Rimini Protokoll does not simply take pleasure in a clever sleight of hand; their aim is to explore what constitutes reality in all its facets, as a way of enabling the audience to then interrogate it. With empathy, humour and curiosity, ideas and people are brought together in work that is both sophisticated and highly theatrical.
PuSh has chosen to commission Rimini Protokoll as an inspiring counterpoint to several artistic trends within our region. Representation, history, identity and place have all been recurring thematics of contemporary practice in British Columbia over the past 20 years. In the independent theatre scene, verbatim and documentary approaches have also been a significant impulse for the creation of new work. Rimini Protokoll shares these concerns and approaches, but in very distinct and provocative ways. The sheer audacity and range of their work also exhibits a remarkably fluid approach to crisscrossing disciplinary boundaries—a trait that follows through on the spirit of our Festival’s mission and programming.
PuSh is pioneering new ways of collaborating locally, nationally and internationally. This commitment to new ideas, new practices, new forms and new producing models has helped put the PuSh Festival at the forefront of enabling artists, presenters and producers from diverse backgrounds and communities to engage in creative exchange.
Best Before is as ambitious as anything the PuSh Festival has embarked upon. It’s been a long journey. To arrive here now has meant traveling across continents, an ocean and several cultural divides. Now home, the trip feels well worth the effort. We think you’ll agree.
Best Before is part of the 2010 PuSh International Performing Arts Festival and is presented with Vancouver 2010 Cultural Olympiad and The Cultch. January 29- February 6, 2010 at 7pm (weekend matinees Sat 2pm and Sun 4pm), The Cultch. Click here for full details.
Above photos by Tim Matheson