Tuesday, June 11, 2013

SYMPOSIUM ON DOCUMENTARY THEATRE | Austria, Germany, Switzerland, U.S. artists stage "Theater of the Voiceless"

WASHINGTON, DC |  At invitation of the Austrian Cultural Forum, Goethe-Institut Washington, Embassy of Switzerland and Georgetown University’s Laboratory for Global Performance and Politics, I will participate in two panel discussions in an international symposium on documentary theater, taking place Monday, June 17th at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.

I will moderate a panel on creative approaches to documentary theater as performance and will speak on the implications of documentary theater for government policy and post-conflict reconciliation.

Called “Theater of the Voiceless,” this festival and symposium runs June 16 to June 19. The symposium offers a unique opportunity for U.S. artists, critics and documentary-makers to compare creative approaches among leading practictioners of the genre in Austria, Germany, Switzerland and the U.S.

RSVP here: www.theaterofthevoicelesssymposium.eventbrite.com

Without question, documentary theatre has become all the rage in Europe and the United States. The modern practice called documentary theatre emerged from the aspirations and practices of the historical avant-garde. Most critics presume that documentary approaches are realist in their practice and aim. But in fact the word "documentary" is problematic. Its treatment of source materials, documentary theatre itself follows the same avant-garde practices as collage, montage and assemblage. The current belief that the real can be reliably documented is something of a fantasy. The idea that the resulting documentation can be objectively interpreted by trained professionals (journalists and historians, for example) is fundamentally a modern idea.

Swiss playwright Milo Rau's Hate Radio, part of "Theatre of the Voiceless" in Washington, D.C.

What is exciting about "Theater of the Voicesless" is that it is a multi-stakeholder project by representatives of German-speaking nations (Austrian Cultural Forum, Goethe-Institut Washington, Embassy of Switzerland).  Although in the U.S. and in the Eastern parts of Europe, the dramaturgy of the real is seen as "new," the key figures in the development of documentary theatre actually go as far back as Germany and Austria. "Theater of the Voiceless" is trans-national in its approach: U.S. vs. Germany vs. Switzerland vs. Austria vs. Bangladesh vs. Africa.

The Symposium will begin with a presentation by Ping Chong, an internationally acclaimed director, playwright, video installation artist and a 2013 recipient of the Doris Duke Performing Artist Award. He will be accompanied by Bruce Allardice, managing director of Ping Chong + Company. Together, they will speak about the power of documentary theater to affect social change.

In the afternoon, I will lead and moderate a panel discussion, “Documentary Theatre: Creative Approaches,” featuring U.S. and European creators who will discuss the research, creative process and staging of documentary plays and their many forms. It will be a special privilege to share the stage with Doug Wager, artistic director and head of directing for Temple University. Wager adapted and directed In Conflict, based on the book about Iraq war veterans speaking about their experiences. He also worked on a multimedia ensemble docudrama Shot! about gun violence, which got produced at Kennedy Center.

Chris Jennings (Managing Director, The Shakespeare Theatre Company) and David Snider (Director of Artistic Programming, Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater) will also share their most recent docu-projects. Konradin Kunze (Playwright, a small, small world) will discuss his own German approach.

The evening will be devoted to politics. After the staged reading of the Swiss play Hate Radio by Milo Rau, there will be another discussion, entitled “Documentary Theatre: Implications for Policy and Post-Conflict Reconciliation," focusing on how theater and performance can serve as tools for diplomacy. This panel features, among others, policy expert Michael Pelletier, who is Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs in Bureau of African Affairs in the U.S. Department of State.

Swiss playwright Milo Rau's Hate Radio, part of "Theatre of the Voiceless" in Washington, D.C.

Rau, the director and playwright, was born in Switzerland in 1977, and shuttles between Zurich and Berlin at present. His interest is dealing with the aesthetic of re-enactments. In addition, he is the director and founder of the International Institute of Political Murder (IIPM), an organization established in 2007 for the purpose of promoting and bringing forth the re-enactment of traumatic historical events by means of theater, film, fine arts, and research. One of IIPM’s latest projects, the re-enactment The Last Hours of Elena and Nicolae Ceausescu (2009-2010), has been performed in Romania, and is considered a great step forward towards that country’s coming to terms with its past.

Hate Radio re-enacts hate speech in Rwandan media. On April 6, 1994, the airplane of the Rwandan President, Habyaruman, was hit by two missiles as it tried to land. This event signaled the beginning of the most brutal genocide since the end of the Cold War. In the months of April, May and June 1994, the Central African state murdered an estimated 800,000 to 1,000,000 of its Tutsi minority and thousands of moderate Hutus. The tools used to humiliate and kill people of all ages and genders were simple: machetes, sticks, and a few guns. In addition, the most powerful instrument of the genocide was the “Radio-Télévision Libre  des Mille Collines” (RTLM). Central to the project is the re-enactment of an RTLM show, run by its hosts -- three Hutu extremists and the white Italian-Belgian Georges Ruggiu. How racism functions is the subject of Hate Radio: how human beings are “talked out of” their humanity. --rg





Austrian Cultural Forum, the Goethe-Institut Washington, the Embassy of Switzerland
and the Laboratory for Global Performance and Politics at Georgetown University
Host

“Theater of the Voiceless:
International Symposium and Festival of Documentary Theater
Washington, DC
June 16 - 19, 2013

In partnership with Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater, Forum Theatre, Shakespeare Theatre Company, The Studio Theatre, and Taffety Punk Theatre Company

Participants include Eva-Maria Bertschy, Ping Chong, Randy Gener, Derek Goldman, Konradin Kunze, Cynthia Schneider, Sophia Stepf, Doug Wager

WASHINGTON, D.C,|  Documentary theater possesses a unique ability to respond to issues of pressing political import and social justice, and provides a platform and voice for the dispossessed. “Theater of the Voiceless” — an international symposium and festival produced by Zeitgeist DC (Austrian Cultural Forum Washington, Goethe-Institut Washington and the Embassy of Switzerland) and the Laboratory for Global Performance and Politics at Georgetown University — takes place June 16 - 19, 2013 at various venues around Washington, DC.

A centerpiece of “Theater of the Voiceless” — led by festival artistic director Gillian Drake — is a daylong symposium that will be held from 11 am to 10 pm on Monday, June 17th 2013 at Georgetown University, Davis Performing Arts Center (37th and O Streets NW, Washington, DC).

To RSVP and for more information, visit www.zeitgeistdc.org.

The symposium will begin with a presentation by Ping Chong and Bruce Allardice of Ping Chong + Company, from its Undesirable Elements series of community-based oral histories.

Global migration challenges, government-sponsored genocide, terrorism and other manmade disasters that permanently alter our world view — these universal topics are addressed in non-fiction plays by playwrights interested in using their art for social change: Konradin Kunze and Sophia Stepf (Germany), Milo Rau (Swiss founder of the International Institute of Political Murder), and Kathrin Röggla (Austria).

Two panel discussions featuring artistic leaders, artists, and cultural and political experts  from the United States and Europe will focus on the power of documentary theater to effect social change. The afternoon panel discussion, “Documentary Theater: Creative Approaches, will be moderated by Randy Gener, the Nathan Award-winning editor/writer of Critical Stages and founder of TheaterofOneWorld.org. It will include Doug Wager (Artistic Director and Head of Directing for Temple University), Chris Jennings (Managing Director, The Shakespeare Theatre Company), David Snider (Director of Artistic Programming, Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater), and Konradin Kunze (Playwright, a small, small world). They will discuss the research, creative process and staging of documentary plays and their many forms.

In the evening, after the staged reading of Swiss playwright Milo Rau’s Hate Radio, Professor Cynthia Schneider, Co-Founder of the Laboratory for Global Performance and Politics at Georgetown University, will moderate “Documentary Theater: Implications for Policy and Post-Conflict Reconciliation," a panel focusing on how theater and performance can serve as tools for diplomacy. This panel features, among others, policy expert Michael Pelletier (Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs in Bureau of African Affairs in the U.S. Department of State) and Eva-Maria Bertschy (Dramaturg, International Institute of Political Murder).

The staged readings of a small, small world will be directed by Serge Seiden (The Studio Theatre), and include cast members Maboud Ebrahimzadeh and Jonathan Feuer.

The staged readings of Worst Case will be directed by Jenny Lord (The Shakespeare Theatre Company), and will include cast members Gabriela Fernandez-Coffey, Heather Haney, Joe Mallon, Max Reinhardsen, Michael Rudko, and Emily Townley.

The staged reading of Hate Radio will be directed by Derek Goldman (The Laboratory for Global Performance and Politics at Georgetown University), and will include cast members Caroline Clay, Crashonda Edwards, Rick Foucheux, Kenyatta Rogers, Erika Rose, Joshua Street, Baakari Wilder, and Michael Anthony Williams.

Details and Reservations: www.zeitgeistdc.org

FESTIVAL SCHEDULE
Sunday, June 16, 7 pm
Goethe-Institut Washington (812 7th St. NW, Washington, DC)
a small, small world 
(with Konradin Kunze and Sophia Stepf, Germany)
Staged reading directed by Serge Seiden (Associate Producing Artistic Director, The Studio Theatre)

Monday, June 17, 11 am – 10 pm
Georgetown University, Davis Performing Arts Center (37th and O Streets NW, Washington, DC)
Theater of the Voiceless Symposium

11 am – 12:15 pm Presentation: “Undesirable Elements: Real People, Real Lives, Real Theater”
Ping Chong and Bruce Allardice (Ping Chong + Company)

  1 – 2:30 pm a small small world (Germany)
Staged reading directed by Serge Seiden
(Associate Producing Artistic Director, The Studio Theatre)

  2:45 – 3:15 pm Artistic response by Forum Theatre

  3:30 - 4 pm Reading of excerpts from Worst Case (Austria)
Staged reading of excerpts
Directed by Jenny Lord
(Resident Assistant Director, The Shakespeare Theatre Company)

4 – 4:30 pm “This Really Happened”
Artistic response by Taffety Punk Theatre Company

4:45 – 6:15 pm "Documentary Theater: Creative Approaches"
Panel discussion moderated by Randy Gener (Critical Stages and  TheaterofOneWorld)
Panelists: Colin Bills (dog & pony dc), Chris Jennings (The Shakespeare Theatre  Company), Konradin Kunze and Sophia Stepf (a small, small world), Jocelyn  Prince (Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company), David Snider (Arena Stage), Doug  Wager (Temple University)

7:30 - 9:15 pm Hate Radio (Switzerland)
Staged reading directed by Derek Goldman (Director, Georgetown University’s  Laboratory for Global Performance and Politics), in partnership with Arena Stage  at the Mead Center for American Theater

9:15 - 10 pm "Documentary Theater: Implications for Policy and Post-Conflict Reconciliation"
Panel discussion moderated by Cynthia Schneider (Co-Founder, Laboratory for  Global Performance and Politics at Georgetown University)
Panelists:
Eva-Maria Bertschy (International Institute of Political Murder), Ping Chong,  Randy Gener and Michael Pelletier (Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for  Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, US Department of State)

Panelists for "Implications for Policy and Post-Conflict Reconciliation"
Tuesday, June 18, 7:30 pm
Embassy of Austria (3524 International Court NW, Washington, DC)
Staged reading of Worst Case (Austria)
Staged reading directed by Jenny Lord (Resident Assistant Director, The Shakespeare Theatre Company)

Wednesday, June 19, 6:30 pm
Goethe-Institut Washington (812 7th St. NW, Washington, DC)
Screening of the film of the groundbreaking Rimini Protokoll documentary theater piece Soil Sample Kazakhstan (Bodenprobe Kasachstan)

PRESS CONTACTS:
Gillian Drake, Festival Artistic Director
gilliandm@gmail.com

Norma Broadwater, Goethe-Institut Washington
nbroadwater@washington.goethe.org

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