In his monthly newsletter ‘De Wereld van Willem’ journalist Willem Bruring tips his readers about the cultural offerings in Rotterdam. Even though he has had enough of the cultural quarantine, Willem visited the livestream of Ik via de ander. Below you can read what he wrote about it. You can subscribe to his newsletter by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
“The one wonderful play after another. For years.”
review WILLEM BRURING
‘It’s a pity she has that disability’ says a mother somewhere halfway through the performance, ‘otherwise she might have become prime minister’. It is one of those moving moments of Ik via de ander, the new production of Theater Babel by director Paul Röttger. A very special production, as you might expect from Röttger. After all, having played a pioneering role for years, his Babel is still the only theater company in our country that actually practices the concept of inclusiveness. Where others profess the need for it mainly on paper and in front of the microphone, he and 28 actors with and without physical or mental disabilities and with different ethnic backgrounds make one wonderful theater piece after another. For years now.
In Ik via de ander, the central theme is the ideas of the French philosopher Emmanuel Levinas. ‘Through the gaze and face of the Other you yourself are made human’ was the core of his ethical philosophy and Babel took it very literally. Paul Röttger interviewed mothers, brothers and sisters of his actors, playwright Erik-Ward Geerlings transformed them into monologues and six of the actors recite them. In better times this would have been on a couch with an audience in a kind of relay; now it was via live streaming, in a one-on-one confrontation with the protagonist in question. The result is no less.
Their relatives’ stories about them are told admirably neutrally by the actors but not infrequently you can still see pride shining through. Especially when, for understandable reasons, Röttger recites the text in a voice-over. Watch the faces of the actors and you immediately understand what this performance is about.