Perhaps all the dragons

[…in our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us act, just once, with beauty and courage]

9/05 – 19:00 + 21:00
10/05 – 17:00 + 19:00 + 21:00
11/05 – 15:00 + 17:00 + 19:00 + 21:00
13/05 – 19:00 + 21:00
14/05 – 19:00 + 21:00
15/05 – 19:00 + 21:00
16/05 – 19:00 + 21:00
17/05 – 17:00 + 19:00 + 21:00
18/05 – 15:00 + 17:00 + 19:00 + 21:00
1h 10min

The Antwerp collective Berlin has for years blurred the boundary between fiction and reality. Human coexistence is a common thread that runs through their work. Five years after their last stint, Berlin is back at the Kunstenfestivaldesarts with new work in 2014! Perhaps all the dragons comprises of true stories about moments of vital choices, carefully selected and then meticulously assembled and synchronised into an intriguing digital polyptych. Thirty stories come together in a round table setting with thirty screens and as many spectators. One-on-one stories that also communicate with each other and gradually reveal the contours of a global portrait. The theme is eclectic, the message universal. Monologue becomes dialogue, the table becomes a globe. In Perhaps all the dragons, Berlin puts lives under the microscope. This is deeply human multimedia theatre.

Berlin (Bart Baele & Yves Degryse)

Derek Blyth, Sergey Glushkov, Francois Pierron, Juan Albeiro Serrato Torres, Rinat Shaham, Shizuka Hariu, Shlomi Kirchely, Jonas Jonsson, Nirman Arora, Suneet Chhabra, Luci Comincioli, Roger Christmann, Regina Vilaça, Pat Butler, Walter Müller, Adela Efendieva, Andrew Mugisha, Ramesh Parekh, Nico Mäkel, Wim Mäkel, Tamas Sandor, Philippe Cappelle, Romik Rai, Brecht Ghijselinck, Vladimir Bondarev, Andrei Tarasov, Matsumoto Kazushi, Bob Turner, Geert-Jan Jansen, Kurt Lannoye, Robrecht Ghesquière, Laura Fierens, Patryk Wezowski, Hilde Verhelst, Christina Davidsen

Music & mixing
Peter Van Laerhoven

Kirsten Roosendaal, Yves Degryse, Bart Baele

Geert De Vleesschauwer

Bart Baele, Geert De Vleesschauwer, Yves Degryse

Berlin, Manu Siebens

Technical coordination
Robrecht Ghesquière

Production & communication
Laura Fierens

Research & dramaturgy
Natalie Schrauwen

Research intern
Heleen De Boever

Stage construction
Manu Siebens, Robrecht Ghesquière, Bregt Janssens, Koen Ghesquière

Kurt Lannoye

Distribution & tour planning
Kathleen Treier

Stijn Bonjean

Set design & props
Jessica Ridderhof, Natalie Schrauwen

Charlotte Willems, Ophelia kookt!

Sigrid Volders

Kunstenfestivaldesarts, Les Brigittines

Berlin (Antwerp)

Kunstenfestivaldesarts, Deutsches Schauspielhaus Hamburg, le CENTQUATRE (Paris), Dublin Theatre Festival, Centrale Fies (Dro), Noorderzon Performing Arts Festival (Groningen), La Bâtie-Festival de Geneve

Supported by
Vlaamse Overheid

This project is co-produced by
ONDA-Office national de diffusion artistique

This project is co-produced by
NXTSTP, with support of the Culture Programme of the European Union

Berlin is artiste associé at le CENTQUATRE (Paris)

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Perhaps all the dragons […in our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us act, just once, with beauty and courage]

I want to ask you something first. It is not a mystery; it’s a question for those of you who are reading this. You have to choose someone. One person. One person from the seven billion inhabitants of the world. Someone, somewhere, it doesn’t matter where. You do not know that person personally. It can be a sheik in Saudi Arabia, a seal hunter in Iqaluit, a prison guard in Kotido, or an Israeli fighter pilot. Anyone. Now the question is: how many steps do you think it will take for you to reach that person? How many steps, how many people are needed, for someone to make contact with someone he knows personally, someone who you speak with on familiar terms and not formal terms. How many do you think?

Now, you don’t have to remember it or write it down. You already know the answer, it was told to you at the table just now by a professor of social psychology.

As of 2014, Berlin has been working on documentary-based performances situated between theatre and film for 10 full years, and has had the good fortune to be able to create and show these performances in various places in the world.

Along the way, we continued to come across new and exciting stories and people, and the desire grew to show the public a collection of these narratives that were found for the new creation Perhaps all the Dragons; to let them enter into dialogue with one another.

We started by listing the special stories that have wafted our way, articles we had kept, items we had encountered while researching and that had attracted our attention, and searched further based on this material. With the only guideline being that we would like to interview the protagonist. Without a predetermined dramaturgy or storyline. Just because they are interesting stories or people.

During the research process, some common themes inadvertently surfaced: remembering and memory, concentration and choice, research, specialisation.

We selected 30 one-on-one stories of an eclectic nature: from a scientific detail, to a philosophical proposal, to news items and anecdotes. Thirty documentary stories about wilful choices, courageous decisions, and irrefutable occurrences; about humour, acceptance and resistance, about forgetfulness, remembering, and love for the word.

The one story led to the other, and seemingly disparate people and events showed more similarities than we at first thought.

An opera singer who played only one single role during her entire career – a known pianist who while on stage realises that she has rehearsed the wrong concerto but can dig up the right concerto from memory, on the spot – a Russian man who only at the age of 25 realises that his inability to forget something is exceptional – a neurosurgeon who successfully transplants the head and body of two living apes – a Ugandan prison guard who on a certain day directs his attention to a fleeing rabbit – a brave little matador – a Jain nun who chooses to systematically phase out her worldly life – a Japanese woman who has lived in the privacy of her bedroom for 10 years – the scientist behind the theory that everyone on this planet is only a few steps removed from each other.

That last story served as a guide and unifying factor between the stories. Sometimes a character knew one of the other protagonists, or had heard of his story; in other cases, there were substantial similarities, geographic proximity, a shared interest.

But we also noticed that the entire working process of Perhaps all the Dragons was itself permeated by this small-world phenomenon.

From the search for stories, translators, décor items, film material, and locations, to the most impossible props; via person x who knew person y who again referred us to z, improbabilities were possible.

Looking back on 10 years of Berlin, this principle has seriously driven and coloured our work from the beginning.

We arrive in a city, as in a real fictional environment, and immerse ourselves in a world that is alien to us. With the eye of an outsider who wanders through the meandering streets of the city. By losing ourselves, we make our way to its very heart. One that can be found in every one of its inhabitants, rumbling metro lines, crumbling buildings. In the stone that is cast and shatters the windowpane to smithereens, the silent boats in the frozen bay; in the gossip of neighbours, the discipline of a military parade.

Berlin makes documentary portraits of cities and situations like a writer works on a book. By searching for lines, threads, clusters; by creating characters in a not yet defined environment.

We collected a palette of fragmented voices, perceived by kaleidoscopic eyes, and put our story together.

We let ourselves go from street to street, from the one human to the other, until we collected an expanded database of images.

And then, back home, we again lay out a path in the collected material, between all four corners we visited, and therein write our story.

The one thing leads to another, and to more and wider still. It is not only like this with people and their stories. We catch ourselves not just playing the game of six degrees with people, but also with things, with everything. The chain starts with a thing, a person, an issue, and with the last link it comes back to us.

And so we move from Jerusalem to Iqaluit in the Arctic, Bonanza, Moscow, the Ruhr district, the Westhoek, to a roundtable conference with people from all over the world. There is always something or someone that pushes us further-along to the next place. Lisbon. Rio. Zvizdal.

Six, that was the answer. On average. Six steps between you and anyone in the world you can imagine. But six intermediate steps separate you from, say, a French assassin, a Russian circus director, the seven residents of a small village in the Rocky Mountains, and the people who sat in front of you today. Before today then. As of now, it’s only one step.

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The starting point of each of performance by Berlin is located in a city or a region somewhere on the planet. A characteristic feature of its approach is its documentary and interdisciplinary work methods. Focusing on a specific research question, it engages different media depending on the content of the project. Bart Baele and Yves Degryse founded Berlin in 2003 with Caroline Rochlitz. They started the series Holocene (the Holocene is the current geological era) with the performances Jerusalem, Iqaluit , Bonanza and Moscow. A few years later Berlin started a new cycle Horror Vacui (the fear of emptiness) of which Tagfish and Land’s End are the first two episodes. Berlin is currently working on new performances in both cycles. The number of projects has not been defined, but the Holocene cycle will end in Berlin with the creation of a fiction-documentary project with different residents from cities that have previously featured in the cycle.

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