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Highlights: de Internationale Keuze 2009 (Rotterdam, Netherlands)

This three-week international festival provides visitors with a chance to see a number of special international performances. Some of the productions chosen stand out for their failure to comply with the rules and widely-held opinions of the conventional world of theater. (from the Holland Visitors Site)

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From  the Artistic Director’s Statement for 2009
In theatre diffidence and indifference dissolve and we eagerly look and listen to those unknown people on the stage – with whom you can feel a peculiar intense connection after the performance. During the International Theatre Festival Rotterdam, this might just as easily happen with Congolese musicians, elderly Americans, Italian and Hungarian free radicals, Afro-Americans, a bodybuilder and striptease dancer, French hard rockers with a dog, and actors from Darfur. Not the average types that usually populate the stage. Together with us, they invite you to look beyond the surface and take a really good look at them; to get in touch with another soul, another way of thinking, another reality. And to feel connected to them: A Sense of Belonging, together with us in the Rotterdamse Schouwburg. We bid you welcome to the International Theatre Festival Rotterdam 2009! — Annemie Vanackere


Michel Schweizer (France)
ôQueens (A body lab)

The unusual cast in ôQueens consists of a ballerina, a female bodybuilder and a striptease dancer: three women who use their bodies for their profession, with an exhibitionistic edge. They had to work hard to get their bodies into this shape. Their bodies have transformed to satisfy the spectator’s desire. Each of the women has a pet dog to suit her personality. From their elevated positions on the stage, the dogs wonder aloud about the antics of men and women.

Michel Schweizer works in Bordeaux, where he has studied both theatre and visual arts. In his work he combines theatre, dance, visual art and entrepreneurship. He calls his artistic enterprise La Coma a profit centre. From this centre he starts off his public activities and tries to redefine the concept of profit.

Philippe Quesne (France)
La Mélancolie des Dragons

In a snowy landscape, six long-haired hard rockers and a dog are stranded with their old car. Isabelle, an older lady wearing a Metallica T-shirt, happens to be passing and tries to help out, but the rockers will have to wait a week for a necessary spare part. They kill the time by telling Isabelle about their plans to set up a mobile amusement park that the men drag along in their trailer. This appears to be less rough than their outfits might suggest; the exhibition of everyday attributes such as a ventilator, a smoke machine, a projector, a laptop and some wigs is not particularly spectacular, but it does enchant Isabelle.

French artist Phillipe Quesne gives us a poetic view of a group of unusual people who lose themselves in a utopian world which appears not to be that far removed from our own world after all. With a disarming enthusiasm, the company shows us the everyday beauty of things we all too often pass by in our lives. Their way of performing is hyper realistic, as if the actors have forgotten that they are on stage. They make their own microcosm, the ‘espace vivarium’ that Quesne wants to achieve in all of his performances – human, witty and touching.

Young Jean Lee’s Theatre Company (USA)
The Shipment

An American woman of Korean origin putting on a performance about Afro- American identity – this may rightfully be called a challenge. With her all Afro-American cast director Lee combines in her performance The Shipment cheerful stand-up comedy, musical comedy, reality TV and naturalism. With plenty of humour and music, the performers confront us with all the clichés about negroes; from the gangsta rapper and the foul-mouthed stand-up comedian to the cocktail party with upper middle class colleagues.

In using her mixture of forms, Lee raises questions about current patterns of thinking. Did the ‘Obamania’ solve the racial problems? Or do we need more action to get rid of the black and white parochialism? And who is actually the ‘other’ that always forms the subject? When she started her writing process, it was not yet known that America would soon have a black president. Now her performance has turned out to be more topical than ever.

Full Schedule Here.

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Caden Manson is Editor In Chief and Curator of Contemporary Performance Network and co-founder and artistic director of Big Art Group, a New York City performance company founded in 1999.
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