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More in this section 2010/11

Rimini Protokoll's Fascination with the Unfamiliar: Staging Real People as a Mode of Intercultural Encounter

06/12/2010 (17:30-18:45)

The Contemporary Theatre and Politics Research group at Royal Holloway is pleased to host the following research seminar on Monday 6 December:  

‘Rimini Protokoll’s Fascination with the Unfamiliar: Staging Real People as a Mode of Intercultural Encounter’

Dr Meg Mumford (University of New South Wales)

Since their establishment as a directorial cluster at the beginning of the millennium, Germany’s Rimini Protokoll have garnered world-wide recognition for their groundbreaking Theatre of Everyday Experts.  This innovative mode of performance belongs to the broader field of contemporary western Reality Theatre, an area I am currently investigating in a joint research project with Dr Ulrike Garde.  ‘Reality Theatre’ is the term we use to denote performance that presents contemporary people and their lives on stage, either in person or in a scripted text based on real life interviews and documents. What distinguishes Expert Theatre is the way it generates an impression of authentic encounter with living people – especially through centralizing the narratives, bodies, and places of non-actors or so-called ‘everyday expert’ performers – while simultaneously destabilizing that impression through overt fictionality and theatricality.

Rimini Protokoll’s integration of everyday experts can be related to the marked interest of all three directors – Stefan Kaegi, Helgard Haug and Daniel Wetzel – in encountering unfamiliar (and insufficiently familiar) phenomena from the contemporary world.  In this paper I turn attention to their fascination with such encounters through a focus on the following questions: what sort of encounters with the culturally strange and unfamiliar does Rimini’s staging of real people offer its theatre participants?  How are social power relations between participants of different cultures, and the power of bourgeois theatre culture, negotiated? And finally, in what ways can their theatrical framing of living everyday experts help us to address our complex polycultural worlds?  When responding to these questions I will consider encounters both on the stage and during rehearsals, drawing on Sara Ahmed’s Strange Encounters (London: Routledge, 2000) and Wolfgang Welsch’s ideas about culture, as well as recent interviews with company members, Cargo Sofia footage, and my own experiences of Rimini’s latest work, Mr. Dağacar and the Golden Tectonics of Trash.


Meg Mumford is a lecturer in Theatre and Performance Studies at the University of New South Wales, Australia.  She has published extensively on the theory and practice of Bertolt Brecht, and is the author of the volume on Brecht in the Routledge Performance Practitioners Series (2009).  Her areas of expertise include German theatre and dance theatre since the nineteenth century, and the politics of performing bodies, translation and intercultural exchange.  She is currently working with Ulrike Garde on a comparative analysis of recent Reality Theatre from Sydney and Berlin.


Venue: Rehearsal Room A, Department of Drama and Theatre, Royal Holloway College

Time: 5.30-6.45pm


Colleagues and Ph.D students welcome. Please email chris.megson@rhul.ac.uk if you'd like to attend


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