“Intimate introduction to the performers of Babel”
Luuk Verpaalen, Theaterkrant
“One beautiful play after another. For years.”
Willem Bruring, De wereld van Willem
Because of the Corona measurements, we cannot invite an audience to our theater at the moment. Theater companies are allowed to keep rehearsing and livestreaming though, so we will keep on performing Ik via de ander, but then in front of the camera so that everyone can watch us from home, via livestream.
If you had a ticket for a cancelled show, we will contact you by email to let you know how we will handle the bought tickets. In doubt, you are welcome to send an email to how you can change your ticket to a later date firstname.lastname@example.org.
About Ik via de ander
How does your mother talk about you? And about your birth?
What does your father think about the choices you make in life?
How does your sister or brother speak about your relationship together?
In Ik via de ander (I through the other), 28 performers of Theater Babel Rotterdam show themselves in their most vulnerable way. They tell intimate monologues about themselves, through the gaze of the other. Director Paul Röttger has interviewed a family member of every actor about their birth, youth, the life of the actor and their mutual connection. Together with writer Erik Ward Geerlings, Paul has worked out these interviews in monologues.
In a multidisciplinary setting of dance, circus arts and music, and life-size projections, the actors tell their personal stories 1 on 1 with the audience. Ik via de ander is an invitation to get closer to yourself, through the story of the other.
Next to the dance in our theatre, as part of the production, we will also perform a dance in public space: on the square in front of Rotterdam Central Station. The dance on the square is connected to the production, and the production is connected to the dance. This way, Ik via de ander is shared with everyone and our inclusive work literally claims its space in society.
Ik via de ander podcast
In the performance you will hear the stories of some of the players, but not all of them. You can listen to the once you missed via our podcast. Sometimes the player speaks himself, sometimes director Paul Röttger reads the monologue. You can listen to the podcast via www.ikviadeander.nl or via Spotify. This way you can listen everywhere: at home, on the bike, in the shower, at work …
Despite Corona closer to the other
The corona crisis brought director Paul Röttger of Theater Babel Rotterdam to an exceptional idea: actors tell stories about themselves, from an other. ‘Ik via de ander (I through the other)’ is the title of the performance. “We need the other to become ourselves.”
By Willem Pekelder
Translation Brecht Hermans
Paul Röttger (66) had been walking around with the idea for years: to interview family members of actors abóut those actors, and to tell those stories to the audience. Why this ‘detour’ through the other? Because, says Röttger à la Levinas, you need the other to see and become yourself.
Complete in the spirit of corona, the sub-title of the performance will be ‘how you can get very close to the other, and sometimes to yourself, despite the one-and-a-half meters’. Röttger: “Because of the obliged social distancing, we literally and figuratively got further apart from each other. But thanks to our production, you can get closer to the other again.The performer shares his story with the audience, seen from the perspective of the other. This way, you are closer to each other. Especially in this time, that is very important.”
Theater Babel Rotterdam is an inclusive theatre company with thirty actors, from which half with a disability, and of all thirty, one family member was interviewed. Well, actually of twenty-seven, because for three actors the idea came too close. Röttger: “I interviewed fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, and so on. Every time the question was: how do you see the actor involved, what do you notice about him/her, what do you remember of him/her? The family members were selected by the actors themselves, and theatre maker Erik Ward Geerlings has turned the interviews in beautiful monologues. These have been presented to the family ánd the actors with the question: can we perform this like that? If from all twenty-seven monologues ten sentences have been erased, that’s already a lot.”
About the content of what’s being told, Röttger doesn’t want to reveal too much, but the stories had a big impact on him. “What I noticed, was that there was often a lot of love in the family, but sometimes also enormous pain. A lot of traumas by physical and emotional violence. In this, it didn’t matter whether the actor has a disability or not. Some stories confused me. But most interviews were positive. And what’s great is: you don’t only get to know the actors better, but also the families they came from, and the zeitgeist. The three actors for whom the concept was too intimate, I interviewed about that. And those monologues I will tell myself.”
Starting the 14th of November, the premiere of ‘Ik via de ander’, the actors will perform their monologues. Those always start in the same way: I am this and that, and I will tell the story of my brother/sister/father/etc. about me. This way, the audience will get to hear a unique selection of monologues in one and a half hour.
Looking back, Röttger thinks the other has always been a red thread in his theatre oeuvre. “My first production for the Rotterdam Centre for Theater, as Babel was called back then, was titled ‘The others’, and dealt with the prosecution of homosexuals in the Second World War. That production was about thirty years ago. Our last performance also dealt with the other and being different: the transgender Jessica. I have always been aware of the other, also in myself. In that sense, I have learned a lot from existential philosophers, Levinas in particular: you need the other as a mirror, to become who you want to be, to be free. To get to know the other is essential, especially in these times, in which a lot of people seem trapped in their own self, their status and their social bubble. I can get very angry about the extremely hard world in which we live. I want to show my dream: a world in which it’s all a bit more friendly.”
Röttger thinks ‘Ik via de ander’ is his most personal project. “I have never gotten so close to the actors. Some of them, I’ve known for twenty-five years, and still I learned something new. For the performers as well, the interviews with family members were often a surprise.
What they themselves experienced as beautiful, family members could dislike, and vice versa. Every home carries its burden, and many homes a very big burden. What moves me is what people have coped with, how strong they are or how they have suited themselves in their destiny. Not everything can be made. If you are very traumatized, you no longer have the energy to change your life. ”
The performance starts and ends with a choreography. “I hope”, says Röttger, “that the visitors will see the last dance with different eyes than the first. In the beginning, they do not know the players yet, and they may interpret the dance based on externalities. That’s what we often do, we judge based on the outside alone. But at the end, the visitors have become acquainted with the actors, and they will hopefully see the dancers as human beings, who can be lucky or unlucky, bankrupt or depressed. Just like the visitors themselves. ”
The inclusive work and research of Babel is made possible by: Stichting Doen, the Municipality of Rotterdam, the Promotion of Volkskracht foundation, Kickstart culture fund, Pameijer foundation, the VSB fund, the NSGK and HandicapNL.