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17 - 28/06/2016

photo: M. Januszaniec
Galleryphoto: M. Januszaniec

Born in 1975 in Gröningen in the Netherlands, Lotte van den Berg is one of the the most singular and distinct figures in European theatre. She is the daughter of Jozef van den Berg (b. 1949), the famous Dutch puppet theatre artist, writer and director. On 14th of September 1989 he famously eschewed his faith and allegiance to theatre. A few minutes before the commencement of the play Genoeg Gewacht (inspired by Beckett’s Waiting or Godot), he stood on the stage of DeSingel in Antwerp and told the audience about the religious enlightenment he had experienced. From that day on he has lived as a nomad-hermit. That event had a marked effect on the life of the 15-year-old Lotte van den Berg.

Her professional path is marked with many years of discussions on the theatre, with conscious struggles with the idea of it – starting with her father’s legacy and childhood fascination with the stage, through her directing studies at Amsterdam University of the Arts, her cooperations with various institutions (for several years van den Berg was a director in Toneelhuis in Antwerp), to setting up her own group OMSK – an independent structure associating actors and directors, founded in 2009. In Lotte van den Berg’s case, theatre and personal life have always shed a particular light on each other, questioned each other, constantly verified priorities, not allowing her to become rigidly cast in the shell of professionalism. Following a number of years of projects which can be classified as plays, happenings or films, Lotte van den Berg proceeded to projects bordering on social, artistic and research events. She collaborates with writers, philosophers and theoreticians. For her, the viewer is the necessary subject of the event – its creator, the crucial condition for theatre to happen. She is a self-aware director and animator, independent of formal structures, propelled by art. Lotte van den Berg also shares her experience with others – she was a mentor and supporter of the group Schwalbe which has been conquering Europe with their abstract plays (Malta Festival Poznań audiences enjoyed Schwalbe Is Looking for Crowds during last year’s edition), based on intensive physical collectiveness. She cooperated closely with artists for this year’s Idiom: Dries Verhoeven or Julian Hetzel, directors who are active creators in the Dutch theatre scene.

“I love looking at a tree, a branch swinging in the air, and the person standing next to it, waiting for a bus with a bag with a jar of peanut butter in their hand. The mundane, co-exists with what is intangible”, says the artist. She is sensitive to the public sphere - where at the crossing of visibility and invisibility, people’s lives happen. In her works the city is the first and last backdrop of all the activities in which we take part as individuals and as communities, the space of tragedy and comedy, contact and alienation. Scripts in Lotte’s theatre do not play a leading role, many of her plays are wordless. Language is merely one of the elements of a complex organism of a theatre play, which aims to show the world from a separate unique perspective. Rather than literature and readymade history, van den Berg is interested in space and the participants of the performative action - the tensions, which are created among them, the way in which they co-exist with each other. The artist shows a world constructed from many parallel phenomena: movement and stillness, action and in-action, prosaic things and transcendence which launches internal changes in human beings.

Lotte van den Berg’s approach to theatre bears the traits of anarchy, intangibility – the artists frees herself from the framework of one convention, only to test a different one.