Rimini Protokoll

Halles de Schaerbeek

2, 3, 8, 9/05 – 20:00
4, 11/05 – 15:00
10/05 – 17:00 + 20:00

The collective Rimini Protokoll made its name with unadulterated documentary theatre that places real people on stage as ‘experts on everyday life’. This year the Germans once again return to the Kunstenfestivaldesarts with an ambitious creation for more than one million Brusselaars! The concept has drifted over from Berlin, where it realised a huge success. 100% Brussels takes the city’s official population statistics and pastes a human face on the numbers. One hundred Brusselaars quasi-scientifically make up the inhabitants of Brussels, but they also play a more delicate role: that of themselves. Each of them tells of their everyday life in the city, unafraid to take a stance on the issues that concern them. In this way the participants repeatedly sketch a subtle, subjective cross-section of the city. Within a few weeks of an election battle where the capital will be fiercely contested, 100% Brussels paints a rare portrait of this complex metropolis. 100% Brussels optimistically wanders beyond the clichés. Come and discover your city!

A project by
Rimini Protokoll (Helgard Haug, Stefan Kaegi, Daniel Wetzel)

Starring
Sadia Abdiraman, Mustapha Aboulkhir, Razia Alibhai, Achraf Allali, Jean-Luc Appart, Annette Baussart, Séraphin Bayekula, Othmane Belhaj, Soufiane Ben Haddou, James Benn, Samir Bouaoud, Mohamed Boujeddada, Pieter Buggenhout, Elisabeth Busch, Amara Buyse, José Carleer, Giannoni Celia, Célestine Chapelle, Muzzamal Chaudhry, José Clossen, Nicoleta Covace, Chris Cullus, Ilona Danak, Valentin Dayan, Gino De Meuter, Laura De Neck, Claudine De Rudder, Yves De Voeght, Daniel Defeijt, Tony Degli, Adrien Delobel, Martine Denis, Myriame Derres, Sevil Dogan, Defne Dogan, Raymond Doms, Rachida El Haddad, Inês Ferreira, Begga Fieuws, Lotte Fonteyn, Sofie Fonteyn, Robert Fuks, Christiane Gabriëls, Yuri Gavriluk, Grace Georgiou, Ana Maria Gilsoul, Charlotte Goldberszt, Leander Gosslar, Oscar Gutierrez Ramos, Robin Hakizimana, Dorian Hakizimana, Saadi Hentati, Maxime Jeune, Jean-Philippe Juneau, Farid Kabdani, Peter Kirschen, Benoît Laine, Marion Laine, Jeva Lapina, Fabienne Lichtert, Patricia Loureiro, Joseph Marneth, Anna Martin, Ikram Mokhtari, Iuri Montebrun, Kosta Montebrun, Fardousa Muuse, Hahn Nguyen, Max Nisol, Guy Noël, Guillaume Noël, Danielle Noël, Jémy Nzeyimana, Stefania Occhionorelli, Yann Patou, Kirill Patou, Darrel Perez, Jérôme Piron, Sébastien Piron, Monique Pivert, Catherine Pollard, Nidal Rachiq, Naziha Rachiq, Gabriella Rosca, Maria Rostas, Andrzej Rzepa, Ulric Schollaert, Kader Sevinç, Ruta Skujina, Yvette Slachmuylder, Sôgo Suzuki, Rkia Tiar, Roméo Torresan, Aline Trubert, Mauro Van den Ende, Free Van Gestel, Carolien van Oosten, Christophe Vanderplas, Sietse Vannuffelen, Giordana Vedova, Rebecca Vedova, Frederic Vidal Altamiras, Lamury Virginie, Hassan Wali

Lighting, stage & video direction
Andreas Mihan

Music
OPMOC

Casting director
Brigitte Neervoort

Casting Schaerbeek & Saint-Josse
Florent Garnier, Axel Satgé

Assistants
Esther De Vos, Stéphanie Demeuldre-Coché, Leïla Duquaine, Sara Estrada

Presentation
Kunstenfestivaldesarts, Halles de Schaerbeek

Production
Rimini Protokoll (Berlin)

Co-production
Kunstenfestivaldesarts, Halles de Schaerbeek

In collaboration with
Institut Bruxellois de Statistique et d’Analyse/Brussels Instituut voor Statistiek en Analyse, Brussels Academy, Europe.Brussels Liaison Office, Zinnema

Supported by
Brussels Hoofdstedelijk Gewest/Région de Bruxelles-Capitale, Vlaamse Gemeenschapscommissie, Commission communautaire française, Vlaamse Overheid (Vlaamse Minister bevoegd voor Brussel), Goethe-Institut Brüssel

Thanks to
Théâtre Varia

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Brussels, my spot in the world

Brussels is a symptom of Belgium. A symptom is a sign or complaint that mysteriously points to an underlying disorder or illness. Brussels is the remnant of successive Belgian state reforms. In six steps, Belgium was transformed from a unitary state into a federation of three monolingual communities and three territorial regions. Planned in 1970, it became a fact of life in 1980, except for Brussels, that is. The Brussels-Capital Region, which covers the City of Brussels and 18 peripheral municipalities, did not become a region in its own right until 1989. However, a significant portion of the metropolitan periphery stayed with the other regions. Not to mention that people-related matters remained within the remit of the Dutch and French-speaking Communities which operate within the region with little coordination.

Within this institutional tangle – 19 municipalities, two communities, one region, one federal government, and no suburban consultation – city and urbanity are held captive. Brussels is too-much state and too-little city. And yet, it is the only metropolis in this country! More than 1.1 million registered residents and another 100,000 unregistered residents call this region home. And every day, they are joined by 365,437 commuters. The current demographic boom will add another 140,000 to these figures by 2020. Thus, the metropolis as a whole numbers some 135 municipalities, houses 2.9 million people, and provides 1.33 million jobs. A city that ranks at the top of many-a-list of metropolises.

Brussels, as we know it today, is a product of globalisation. During the 1970s, the capital of Belgium was also its most important industrial city. Over the course of a few decades, industry has all but disappeared and manual workers have been rendered unemployed. The unemployment rate in Brussels exceeds 20%, with youth unemployment at 30%. There are 109,429 job seekers, nearly one-third of the population lives in poverty, 38,000 families are on social housing waiting lists... The Belgian capital has shrunk, and its population earns 15% less than the national average. But, at the same time, the European capital has grown, with the main European institutions having drawn more than 37,000 civil servants to Brussels. Together with their other international functions, they generate more than 105,000 jobs. These expats have joined the thousands of migrants who have already turned Brussels into a multi-coloured city. One third of Brussels residents is non-Belgian, but more than half have foreign roots and hence no Belgo-Belgian references. And the recently announced newcomers are only set to reinforce that super-diversity. Brussels, a small worldcity...

As striking as this dualisation and multiculturalism may be, Brussels is increasingly able to qualify as a melting pot. In nearly half of all households, children are raised bilingually, and the residents of Brussels are making the most of these multilingual and multicultural offerings. The lingua franca in Brussels is French. The second most commonly used language is now English. Thanks to its strong institutions and education system, Dutch is also well represented. Among children and adolescents, however, variations of Arabic, Berber, and Turkish dominate. In addition to this, many other languages of the world are being spoken. Brussels has also become a magnet for international dance, a hotspot for young artists, a scene for hip-hop, and a centre for classical music. Brussels is the home of the Munt, BOZAR, Flagey, Wiels, Kunstenfestivaldesarts, KVS, Kaaitheater, Théâtre National, and Les Halles, and above all the Zinnekeparade.

In other words, Brussels is growing. The surrounding area is expanding. The periphery is urbanising. To the north, the axis extends to Machelen, Diegem, and Vilvoorde, and along to Mechelen and Antwerp. To the south, it runs to Charleroi via Halle and Tubize. To the east and south, in the golden triangle between Leuven, Louvain-la-Neuve, and the Brussels campuses of ULB and VUB, the knowledge society is in full development. These days, as many Brussels residents commute to Brabant Wallon, as residents from that province travel in the opposite direction for work. To the west, we have the diffuse rural Pajottenland and Denderstreek, serving as a huge front garden, a residential area, and an important labour reserve. The Brussels metropolis keeps one third of the Belgian economy turning. And if you were to take a close look at the map, you would soon notice that we are living in one of the most densely populated areas of the world, and that all other cities are interconnected via the eye of Brussels. From Antwerp across to Liège, Namur, Charleroi, Mons, and back up to Ghent...

It is within this grid that Brussels takes its place inside a European network of cities, being positioned directly in the centre, between Greater London, Greater Paris, the Ruhr area of Germany, and the Dutch Randstad. This is where it all happens. This is the hub of Europe, which runs from the Rhine, across Munich and Bavaria, to Milan and Tuscany. The ‘Blue Banana’. The engine of the European Union. Less than one-fifth of its territory accommodates more than 60% of its population and generates more than three-quarters of its wealth. The European periphery interacts with this hub. The Scandinavian countries promote post-industrial dynamism from Copenhagen, Stockholm, and Helsinki, and pull the Baltic capitals along with them. The Mediterranean countries are struggling somewhat; hence the fact that internal tensions are rising and metropolises like Lisbon, Barcelona, and Milan are keen to distance themselves from their agricultural hinterland. Likewise, in the east, capitals like Warsaw, Prague, and Belgrade are calling for the necessary investment so that they too can form an intersection within this network.

Thus, Europe and the world evolve. Brussels is the capital of the European Union, a Union that is steered by the Member States. On the one hand, we house the economic, monetary and regulatory union, and the European Commission and Court. On the other hand, though, our national identity, language(s), and cultural identity remain, as do our traditions, education system, cultural policy, national armies, and national foreign policies. That is the divided Europe comprised of the Council of Ministers and the European top. And amidst all of this, we harbour the European Parliament. And, somewhat under the radar, the network of cities that operates as the vector of economic dynamism.

This is also why Brussels is only partially the capital of Europe. Of course, the most important institutions operate from here: the Commission, the Council, even the Parliament, not to mention the Social and Economic Council, and the Committee of the Regions. And this is also what makes Brussels the world capital of pressure groups: there are between 15 and 20,000 registered lobbies! Brussels is exactly what you might expect from a capital: the seat of important political institutions. But, as a rule, a capital is also the buzzing centre of a project, the place of large museums and universities, the centre of exhibitions and festivals, the headquarters of the media and publishing houses, the place-to-be for artists and intellectuals. Europe lacks a cultural project, however; it does not promote collective imagination, does not motivate its citizens, and it does not bare its heritage or soul. Europe lacks European culture. All too much, Europe continues to live by the grace of the Congress of Vienna which, following thedefeat of Napoleon, shaped Europe back in 1815, including its nationalistic romanticism.

Brussels is not served by nationalism or chauvinism. This city does not have time for a battle between people, communities or other tribes, nor for apartheid or sub-nationality. Brussels is about multi-culture, about living together with due regard for differences, about bridging and mixing, about searching for an urban cosmopolitanism. As it happens, this is precisely the artistic and cultural challenge many metropolises face. It’s the future, in other words. But it’s also the past. Because as far as nation-states are concerned, European cities are the ones that developed modernity, the market economy, the Renaissance, the Enlightenment, the liberal arts, the new science, and also the citizen, local democracy, civil society...

Now, wouldn’t this be a fine mission for my city and my world? To become the capital of a Europe of metropolises, too? Connecting Brussels not only to the history of the national Member States, but also to the splendid past of Mediterranean civilisation and Renaissance urbanity. Giving this city a place in the new world order, not only with a regard for the East, but based on interdependency and connectivity. And even, by way of this mission, to set an example, focusing on a sustainable form of social transition, creating a new cosmopolitan and multicultural image, developing a particular concept of culture and education; using the urban economy to fight dualisation, poverty, and unemployment... Tearing ourselves away from the arm-wrestling over our environment, breaking through the Belgian glass ceiling. Developing ambition. Capitalising on the wealth and diversity of our population and using it to work together with other hubs. Putting creativity centre stage and using it to promote high-quality innovation, talent, knowledge development, and imagination. In summary: becoming what we already are: a city in the world. Urbanity as post-national culture.

Eric Corijn is a cultural philosopher and social scientist, professor at the Free University of Brussels, founder of the COSMOPOLIS research centre, vice-chairman of the Brussels Studies Institute, a driving force behind the Brussels Academy and author of many books about Brussels.

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Helgard Haug (b. 1969), Stefan Kaegi (b. 1972) and Daniel Wetzel (b. 1969) studied at the Institut für Angewandte Theaterwissenschaft in Giessen and work together, in various combinations, under the name Rimini Protokoll. They are recognised as being among the leaders and creators of the theatre movement known as “Reality Trend” (Theater der Zeit): each project begins with a concrete situation in a specific place and is then developed through an intense exploratory process. They have attracted international attention with their dramatic works that take place in that grey zone between reality and fiction. Since 2000, Rimini Protokoll has brought its “theatre of experts” to the stage and into city spaces, interpreted by non-professional actors who are called “experts” for that very reason. Helgard Haug, Stefan Kaegi and Daniel Wetzel have been artists-in-residence at Hebbel am Ufer (HAU) Berlin since 2004. Rimini Protokoll has created a number of productions, including Deadline, presented in the Berlin Theatre Encounters in 2004, Schwarzenbergplatz, nominated in Austria for the Nestroy Prize for Theatre, and Wallenstein, performed at the Theatre Encounters in 2006. In April 2008 they won the European Theatre Prize in Thessaloniki in the category New Realities. Call Cutta in a box won an Honorary Mention at the Prix Ars Electronica 09 (International Competition for Cyber Arts) in the Interactive Art category. In November 2011 Rimini Protokoll won the Silver Lion Award at the 41st Venice Biennale. The work of Rimini Protokoll has previously seen in Brussels at the Kunstenfestivaldesarts. In 2004 they premiered Sabenation, go home & follow the news, a piece specially created in Brussels with former employees of the bankrupt airline Sabena. In 2008 they presented Call Cutta in a box, a one-to-one performance in which teleworker-performers held an hour-long telephone conversation with spectators in Brussels from a call centre in Calcutta. In 2012 they presented Lagos Business Angels, a piece that is somewhere between a show and a trade fair, in which they brought everyday Nigerian and European businessmen face to face with one another, so that the former could give advice to the latter about their sales strategies.

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