Milo Rau - Political Theatre of the Future?
Milo Rau - Political Theatre of the Future?
Milo Rau is considered one of the most important and influential contemporary European theatre directors. In his works, which span over different genres and art forms, he is interested in the past, present and future of socio-political conflicts. Rau’s productions engage with the current socio-political-medial constellations that produce an overall feeling of post-truth times (e.g., propaganda, misinformation, the decline of democracies, demagoguery) in investigating or examining the current state of affairs of democracies through critical dialogues – not to come up with a diagnosis of our time but to open the political, corporate rhetoric to a non-homogenous understanding of global and national narratives and to question the responsibility of each of us as democratic citizens.
As a self-proclaimed political director, he postulates the dysfunction of current institutions and aims to conceptualize and form new ones in and through his work; in his own words: “One has to create new, utopian institutions”. In this regard, especially his endeavors in documentary theatre that use re- and pre-enactment create a space in which on the one hand such institutions are modeled and become thinkable and, on the other, viewers become participants in democratic experiments. In accordance with this, the Ghent Manifesto states that theatre is “not just about portraying the world anymore. It's about changing it”.
His works experiment with the structures of institutional engagements and as such they participate in the, as Rau formulates it, “creation of symbolic forms, symbolic practices and solidarities.” They create realities in an artificial frame (stage, film, book) that did not exist beforehand; engaging with topics such as the European ‘Refugee Crisis’ (Empire), the wars in former Yugoslavia (The Dark Ages) and the Democratic Republic of Congo (The Congo Tribunal) or, recently, the destruction of the Amazon (Antigone in the Amazon). The question, however, is: What emerges as something ‘new’ in these filmic and theatrical stagings of political encounters that are highly formalized, controlled, confined and institutionalized? What idea of political or critical theatre is inherent in the works? What understanding of “world”, citizenship and global community is promoted in the projects?
Regardless of the prominence Rau has gained throughout the past years, little critical scholarship concerning his works has emerged up to this point; creating a research desideratum that we want to address in in a project that we envision as a research-cooperation over an extended time on multiple platforms (workshops, publications, film series) of interested parties. We are broadly interested in investigating his work from a distinctly critical perspective – specific questions and approaches entail, but are not limited to:
- Questions of authorship, agency and authority
- Engagements with the multimedial format of his works as well as its impact on the formation of meaning in them
- Critical Whiteness-, Postcolonial and gender-focused approaches
- The dismantling and re-enforcement of hierarchies
- Intersections of art, activism and politics; respectively the capability of his work to carry out a distinct political agenda
- Pre-enactment, re-enactment, documentary theatre, performance
We invite contributions in the form of conference papers, articles and book chapters. Abstracts of 300-500 words in length are to be submitted to Teresa Kovacs (email@example.com), Tanja Nusser (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Anna Senuysal (email@example.com) by August 15th 2021. Accompanying the abstract we ask you to send us a short bio (nor more than 100 words), and to let us know whether you are interested in participating in the different venues (workshops, publications) or only in one of those.
The 1st workshop is planned for Thursday, April 14th to Sunday, April 17th at the University of Cincinnati. This workshop is planned together with a Milo Rau film event and will center more broadly on Rau’s oeuvre.
The 2nd workshop is planned for Friday, October 28th to Sunday, October 30th at Indiana University and will focus on certain concepts in his work.
Final articles should be max. 8000 words, authored in English or German. Deadline for the articles will be October 2022.
 Rau, Milo / IIPM – International Institute of Political Murder: General Assembly / Generalversammlung / Assemblēe Gēnērale. Berlin: Merve Verlag 2017, p. 12.