Rimini Protocol - Experts for private lives


30.06.2021 / http://entreacte.cat/entrades/perspectives/a-fons/rimini-protokoll-experts-en-vides-privades/

Between the stage and the installation, the German collective will be one of the stars of the summer with an exhibition at the CCCB that explores the limits of form and content, in this case by analysing the urban ecosystem we inhabit. We review some key elements of the work and the career of the collective of Helgard Haug, Stefan Kaegi and Daniel Wetzel.

Seven biographies accompany visitors to the CCCB through an immersive installation designed by the stage designer Dominic Huber to recall a great film set. The installation shows the city as a complex Leviathan which generates models of work, coexistence and economy, that consumes resources and that serves as a stage for physical and digital experiments and revolutions. A place and also a metaphor for the commodification of basic needs. An analysis that is shared by taking on the roles of a financial advisor in private banking who manages a fund of 2 million euros or of a prisoner who explains that he earns more money from the work assigned to him in prison than, once released, outside it.

Urban Nature is a proposal by the Rimini Protokoll collective (Helgard Haug, Stefan Kaegi and Daniel Wetzel). They were students of the Institute of Applied Performing Arts in Gießen, for a long time considered the black belt of German theatre. A concentration of heterodox artists, non-conformists, activists of dissidence, politically committed, opposed to the powerful establishment of the country's major theatrical institutions and their constellation of star directors and unique and consecrated authors.

Perhaps this installation, which forms part of the programme of the Grec 2021, does not fully exploit one of its signs of identity: the error or accident as a factor in the artistic discourse, especially if it occurs directly - modifying the original narrative - or disrupts the process already crystallised in its final stages. The atzar as an intrinsic element of a work that places the emphasis more on the process, its vicissitudes, the methodology and its disruptions than on the final result.

Urban Nature, still, is an excellent example of its marked interest in the urban ecosystem as one of its main sources for these life stories provided by its "experts": people recruited for the contribution they can make to the theme or debate, chosen for their personal experience, skills or specific knowledge. "Characters" almost always far removed from theatrical training. A human cartography that they have been working on in depth since 2008, when they premiered 100% Berlin, a live census of the city and its diversity, recently revived (100% Berlin Reloaded) with almost the same participants as ten years ago and adapted to the urban reality of 35 other cities around the world. The urban is also present in other projects, such as Chácara Paradís (2007), Paralell Cities (2010), Radioortung (2013), Society Under Construction, City as Stage (2017) or Utopolis (2019).

Just as they are reluctant to be labelled "documentary theatre", they do not fully identify themselves as leaders of political theatre. The critical reading is reserved for the spectator. They do not elaborate discourses against the system. They allow private testimonies - whether dramatic, extraordinary or critical - to be the natural vehicle for a debate on certain realities, conflictive or otherwise.

As explained by Florian Malzacher (playwright, festival director and author of the book Experts of the Everyday. The Theatre of Rimini Protokoll) in his article "The Written Realities of Rimini Protokoll": "The company's success is due to its representation of a complex world in which the individual is fundamental, and the truth is always in the form of narrative. They have hit the bull's eye, exceptionally bringing professionals, critics and audiences together, with a theatre that is documentary in the sense that it is directly related to the world as we experience it, an experience that is often overlooked or under-appreciated. [...] They reclaim the particularity, the individual in the face of political generalisation. Their version of documentary theatre is one in which the conventional idea of the objective documentary is juxtaposed with highly subjective experiences, in which individuality and the social factor come together in a way that expands both objective and subjective perception. Avoiding theses, messages and misleading opinions, they make - freely admitting Godard - politicised theatre rather than political theatre".