FAMILY An experiment, an ethnological study of personal life today, a parade of the everyday. What sort of traumas are hiding behind walls? In 2007 a family of four in Calais in northern France was found dead, with no explanation and no clear motive – no psychological, or financial problems, no illness or drugs, no desire for revenge. One day these people simply decided to end their lives. Their story is interpreted by director Milo Rau using a real married acting couple and their two daughters. We see on stage the sort of evening that one might find in any number of families, the difference being that this is their last. The production captures their everyday, routine family life – talking on the phone, eating, listening to music, cleaning, reading Harry Potter, studying English… – but it ends in a tragic finale. Banality, detail and the minutiae of everyday life are set next to an act as grave as a mass suicide. This intimate glimpse into the life of a family, combining reality and fiction, is an engrossing spectacle full of sadness and disillusion. Familie is the culmination of a trilogy about violence in modern Europe, beginning with 2016 with the production Five Easy Pieces about child abuse in Belgium and continuing with La Reprise. Histoire(s) du Théâtre (I), which brought a shocking account of a homophobically-motivated murder.
“ We love this family in the way we love the talking heads on Gogglebox, not for their exceptionalism but the very reverse: their ordinariness and lack of pretence. That we are seeing enactments of real family relationships in parallel to the true-life tragic tale adds to our distress.
——MARK FISCHER, The Guardian
“ Familie is a very different production than what you normally see and expect from Milo Rau – who, in recent years, has been named the enfant terrible of the European theatre. It is smaller, softer, steadier than what one expects entering the theatre to see a play about suicide.
——lostdramaturgininternational .wordpress .com
MILO RAU (1977) Swiss director Milo Rau studied sociology, Romance studies and Germanic studies in Paris, Berlin and Zurich, being taught by Pierre Bordieu and Tzvetana Todorova among others. Since 2002 he has shown over fifty theatre plays, films, books and events at almost all the major international festivals, including the Theatertreffen in Berlin, the Avignon Festival, the Biennale Teatro di Venezia, the Wiener Festwochen and the Kunstenfestival Brüssel, and in over 30 countries all over the world. The winner of numerous awards, Milo Rau is the holder of the Poetikdozentur für Dramatik 2017 prize and the ITI award on World Theatre Day 2016. Following in the footsteps of theatre luminaries such as Frank Castorf, Pina Bausch, George Tabori, Heiner Goebbels and Christoph Marthaler, Rau is the youngest person as yet to bear this prestigious theatre award. Since the 2018/2019 season he has been the artistic head of the NTGent.
NTGent (or Nederlands Toneel Gent) was founded in 1965 as the city theatre of Ghent. It presents its own theatre productions as well as guest productions, it is touring in Flanders, the Netherlands and internationally. In Ghent, the city theatre company is performing in its three venues: the Royal Dutch Theatre (600 seats), Arca (200 seats) and Minnemeers (200 seats). Since March 2018 artistic leadership has been in hands of the Swiss director and sociologist Milo Rau. He wrote a manifesto with ten rules that the city theatre of the future should meet:
1. It’s not just about portraying the world anymore. It’s about changing it. The aim is not to depict the real, but to make the representation itself real.
2. Theatre is not a product, it is a production process. Research, castings, rehearsals and related debates must be publicly accessible.
3. The authorship is entirely up to those involved in the rehearsals and the performance, whatever their function may be – and to no one else.
4. The literal adaptation of classics on stage is forbidden. If a source text – whether book, film or play – is used at the outset of the project, it may only represent up to 20 percent of the final performance time.
5. At least a quarter of the rehearsal time must take place outside a theatre. A theatre space is any space in which a play has been rehearsed or performed.
6. At least two different languages must be spoken on stage in each production.
7. At least two of the actors on stage must not be professional actors. Animals don’t count, but they are welcome.
8. The total volume of the stage set must not exceed 20 cubic metres, i.e. it must be able to be contained in a van that can be driven with a normal driving licence.
9. At least one production per season must be rehearsed or performed in a conflict or war zone, without any cultural infrastructure.
10. Each production must be shown in at least ten locations in at least three countries. No production can be removed from the NTGent repertoire before this number has been reached.