CAMPO Art Centre, "Five Easy Pieces", 2018

Tour Dates: 30 June - 15 July, 2018

Staging a play about the Belgian child murderer Marc Dutroux with children between the ages of 8 and 14, of all people?


© Phile Deprez

Tour Dates
  • 30 June - 15 July, 2018

 

Staging a play about the Belgian child murderer Marc Dutroux with children between the ages of 8 and 14, of all people? This reeks of scandal - and of an idea developed by Swiss director Milo Rau, who has been exploring the representability of evil for some time. In Five Easy Piece, Rau duplicates the theatre situation by showing seven children and a director (Peter Seynaeve) at rehearsals. Scenes based on documentary material from the Dutroux case - interviews with the perpetrator’s father, but also with victims’ parents, a policeman’ s report, a never-sent letter from a kidnapped girl to her parents - are increasingly superimposed by the question of how and whether children can play characters in this case at all. In his highly ambivalent production, which rigorously reflects on its own ethics, Milo Rau manages to set the self-confident individualities of the children from Ghent against evil, including the evil in art.

Reviews

"In Milo Raus's Five Easy Pieces children are initiated in the emotional and political absurdities and the bottomless pits of the adult world. A performance that proves that distanced emotion is stronger than pathos. This is grand theater, human, sensitive, intelligent and political."

- RTBF.be, Christian Jade

"What may seeing this so well-known drama played by children add? Everything. It is said that 'truth comes out of the children’s mouth.' When a child repeats a rude word which was said inadvertently by an adult, we are destabilized, the child has us 'stripped'. What to say when they resume, with incredible talent too, our mistakes, our shortcomings, our tragedies, our dark side? What a slap in the face of the adult world which created this evil universe from which a Dutroux came forth."

- La Libre Belgique, Guy Duplat

Programme: Five Easy Pieces


© Phile Deprez

Is it possible - and with which means - to perform the life of child killer Marc Dutroux with children? Swiss theatre director Milo Rau and his International Institute of Political Murder (IIPM) have conquered the biggest international stages in recent years with their matchless political theatre. Their works are based on testimonies and reconstructions of true stories and mercilessly break through the taboos of our age. Together with the CAMPO arts centre from Ghent, they have set up an ambitious project involving children and teenagers between 8 and 13 years old. Rau uses the biography of the country’ s most notoriously shameful criminal to sketch a brief history of Belgium and to reflect on the (re)presentation of human feelings on stage.

Five Easy Pieces probes the limits of what children know, feel, and do. Purely aesthetic and theatrical questions blend together with moral issues: How can children understand the real significance of narrative, empathy, loss, subjection, old age, disappointment, or rebellion?

How do we react if we see them acting out scenes of violence or love and romance? In particular, what does that say about our own fears and desires? This makes for a confrontational experience.

With Five Easy Pieces, the IIPM subjects its aesthetic appreciation of realism and brutality to a theatre study. Together with CAMPO, appreciated all over Europe for their children and youth theatre productions such as That Night Follows Day (Tim Etchells, 2007) and Before Your Very Eyes (Gob Squad, 2011), the production Five Easy Pieces focuses on the life and crimes of Marc Dutroux and thereby on the various taboos and sore points of both personal and political life.

In five exercises of utter simplicity, short scenes and monologues for the camera, the young actors sneak into different roles: a police officer, Marc Dutroux’ s father, one of the victims, or the parents of a dead girl. They adopt their role and fate via the re-enactments which they’ ve rehearsed together with adult actors: a visit to the scene of the crime, a funeral ceremony, an everyday scene from the life of Marc Dutroux’ s father. On the one hand, this unfolds a historical panorama of Belgian history, from Congo’ s declaration of independence to the mass demonstration of the “White March”. On the other hand, the production considers the limits of what children know, feel, and are allowed to do. What does it mean to observe them in these scenes? And what do we then experience as regards our own fears, hopes, and taboos?

One hundred years ago, Igor Strawinsky wrote his Five Easy Pieces as an educational tool to teach his children to play the piano. With Seven Easy Pieces, Marina Abramović played some iconic moments of performance art. In Milo Raus’ Five Easy Pieces children are initiated in the emotional and political absurdities and bottomless pits of the adult world. What does it mean to involve children in adult theatre? What does that tell us about power and subjection, theatre and performance, and mimicry and humanity? Five Easy Pieces is an experiment in narrating pieces of history in five sets.

Director: Milo Rau


© Milo Rau

Milo Rau was born in Bern in 1977 and studied sociology, German and Romance philology in Paris, Zurich and Berlin; his teachers included Tzvetan Todorov and Pierre Bourdieu. He went on his first reporting journeys to Chiapas and Cuba in 1997 and started writing for “Neue Zürcher Zeitung” in 2000. Since 2003, Milo Rau has been working as an author and director, both in Switzerland and abroad. In order to produce and interpret his work, he founded the theatre and film production company “IIPM - International Institute of Political Murder” in 2007, and has been its director since then. His theatre productions and films (among them The Last Days of the Ceausescus, Hate Radio, City of Change, Breivik’s Statement, The Moscow Trials, The Civil Wars, The Dark Ages, The Congo Tribunal) have toured more than 30 countries and were presented at numerous international festivals, such as Berlin Theatertreffen, Festival d’Avignon, Wiener Festwochen, Festival Trans-Amériques, Kunstenfestivaldesarts Brussels and Biennale Teatro di Venezia.

Aside from his work in film and theatre, Milo Rau teaches directing, cultural theory and social sculpture at universities and art academies. Recent awards for his work include the Swiss Theatre Award 2014, the Hörspielpreis der Kriegsblinden (Audio Play Award of the War-Blinded, for Hate Radio), a special award at the Festival of German Film (for The Moscow Trials)  and the jury award of the festival Politik im Freien Theater (Politics in Independent Theatre, for The Civil Wars). In November 2015, Milo Rau was distinguished with the first Konstanzer Konzilspreis. Preis für Europäische Begegnungen und Dialog (Award of the Council of Constance). His political essay “Was tun? Kritik der postmodernen Vernunft” was chosen as the ”Political Book of the year 2016” by the German daily newspaper “taz - die tageszeitung”. In 2016, Milo Rau became the youngest ever recipient of the renowned “World Theatre Prize of the International Theatre Institute”.

CAMPO Arts Centre

In response to the invitation of arts centre CAMPO (Ghent, Belgium) to create a new play in the series of theatrical works with children, Milo Rau & IIPM create Five Easy Pieces. Remember the 90’s with Moeder & Kind, Bernadetje en Allemaal Indiaan by Alain Platel & Arne Sierens, the more recent trilogy üBUNG by Josse De Pauw, That Night Follows Day by Tim Etchells & Before Your Very Eyes by Gob Squad, or the duet VICTOR by Jan Martens & Peter Seynaeve, and Next Day by Philippe Quesne.

Alongside this tradition of performances with children on stage, CAMPO sets up long term trajectories with different artists, such as Sarah Vanhee, Pieter Ampe, Florentina Holzinger & Vincent Riebeek, Robbert&Frank/Frank&Robbert, or Louis Vanhaverbeke, always with a focus on young artists, next to renowned names. The arts centre tours the world with their creations, from Brussels to Singapore.  

In Ghent, CAMPO presents a varied programme, from theatre, performance and dance from (inter)national companies, to events, festivals and happenings as Mayday Mayday, CAMPO passeert or the Neighbourhood Kitchen, thus opening their doors for unexpected encounters between audience and artists.

List of Awards

  • Prix de la critique théâtre & danse 2016 - Special juryprize for Milo Rau
  • Selection Theatertreffen 2017 
  • 3-sat award 2017 for Milo Rau for Five Easy Pieces
  • Selection Dutch Theatre Festival 2017
  • Selection Belgian Theatre Festival 2017
  • Theater Heute 2017 – Award for Best production & Best dramaturge
  • Mess Festival 2017 – Sarajevo:
  • Grand Prix – Golden Laurel Wreath for Best Performance; Golden Laurel Wreath for Best Director; Audience Award for Best Performance; MESS Critics Award
  • Premio Ubu 2017 for Best foreign performance in Italy
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