The Berlin collective Rimini Protokoll is world renowned for its ambitions to renew theater as an art form. Rimini aims to develop new ways to involve the audience. For this, they use interactive storylines, locations outside the theatres, and everyday experts instead of professional actors. Rimini Protokoll considers theatre a bit like a game, with the audience as active participants, influencing the progress of the production.
picture: the members of Rimini Protokoll
Residentie in Utrecht with Stefan Kaegi and Imanuel Schipper
On behalf of Rimini Protokoll, Stefan Kaegi (member, theatre maker) and Imanuel Schipper (external dramaturge)came to Utrecht in November 2016 for a public lecture and a private workshop for (former) theater and game students. The residentie was organized in cooperation with Het Huis Utrecht, MWC Expertise Centre (Utrecht University), Theater Studies (Utrecht University) Lectoraat Nieuwe Maakprocessen (HKU) and Master Scenography (HKU).
1) Public Lecture Why Theatre XL!
Thursday 10 november 2016, 19:30 – 21:30 hrs
Het Huis Utrecht
Stefan Kaegi (theater maker) and Imanuel Schipper (dramaturg) held a lecture about several of their projects in which games, ludic elements and game structures play a role. Game strategies can offer a lot to involve the audience, they said, but also have implications for the creative making process. The quote ‘One cannot not interact’ served as starting point of the four recent recent projects, that were discussed.
1. Home Visit Europe is designed as a board game in which participants sit around the same table, answering political propositions regarding Europe and thus determining who gets what share of the pie. Literally: while participants play in someone’s living room, the host bakes a cake.
2. Situation Rooms is an interactive, real life movie with visitors located in separate rooms, responding to film footage, and thus influencing the choices of other visitors in other rooms. Theme is arms sales.
3. In Remote X, a group of forty – fifty people walk with headsets through a city. A computer voice gives them assignments they have to perform simultaneously, while listening to music and sound. Doing the tasks in a public space, dwelling in their personal audio bubble at the same time, result in strange situations for both participants and bystanders (note: the image at the top of this site comes from this performance).
4. The theater is a conference resort in Welt-Klimakonferenz. Visitors are delegates and are to negotiate a climate agreement with each other. How much will the world temperature rise under the influence of CO2 emissions? That will become clear in the general meeting at the end of the evening.
After this presentation, three experts responded from their own expertise to the examples presented by Rimini Protokoll.
-Joost Raessens (Professor of Media Theory, Utrecht University with a focus on ‘the ludification of culture’) wanted to know in which way the Rimini Protokoll wants to achieve something like social change. The answer was easy: “Not at all, that’s not what we’re after. We want to make clear the complexity of situations. We provide information and hand our visitors a new perspective on social issues.”
-Marcel Dolman (Head of Training Interactive Performance Design, HKU) addressed the role of technology and design in the performances: how does the creative process go? Rimini Protokoll answered that the biggest challenge always is to have theatre makers and interaction designers speak the same language.
-Emke Idema (theater maker whose productions RULE and STRANGER are designed as games) signaled that visitors indeed have a role as participants, but questioned if they can make free choices of their own or that they are bound to written scenarios and expected patterns? Rimini Protokoll said: “This principle is less important for us, we just want to confront the audience with content that is unknown to them.”
After this, the room was open for a discussion with the audience.
— Hartmut Koenitz (@hkoenitz) 10 november 2016
2) Workshop Why Theatre XL?!
Friday 11 2016, 12.00 – 17.00 hrs
In small, interdisciplinary groups, (former) students in the fields of theater science, dramaturgy, stage design, game science, game design and interactive design worked on concrete, dramaturgical problems concerning the use of game elements in a performance. The problems were introduced by Rimini Protokoll. Each group was given a few hours time to formulate an answer to the problem and developed a proposal that was presented to Rimini Protokoll.
Photos: © Sanne Sprenger / MWC Expertise Centre (Utrecht University)
About Rimini Protokoll
Helgard Kim Haug, Stefan Kaegi, and Daniel Wetzel have been working as a team since 2000. They work in the area of theater, a team of author-directors. Their work in the realm of theater, sound and radio plays, film, installation emerge in constellations of two or three and solo as well. Since 2002, all their works have been written collectively under the label Rimini Protokoll. At the focus of their work is the continuous development of the tools of the theater to allow for unusual perspectives on our reality. The collective mde productions as Call Cutta in a Box, with employees of an Indian call center and 100 Percent Berlin, where 100 residents of Berlin of various demographic backgrounds play all roles.
For example, Haug/Kaegi/Wetzel have declared a Daimler Shareholder Meeting to be a piece of theater or staged 100 % Stadt (100 % City) with 100 statistically represtntative residents of cities like Berlin, Zurich, London, Melbourne, Copenhagen, or San Diego. In Berlin and Dresden, they developed accessible Stasi installations/sound plays in which the observation protocols could be listened to on android telephones. At the moment, they are touring with Nigerian-European business people (Lagos Business Angels), the paraplegic MC Hallwachs (Qualitätskontrolle (Haug/Wetzel), or setting cities to music for hordes of spectators with 50 headphones (Remote X (Kaegi)).