Thu, Apr 04, 2019 - Page 13 News List

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Productions by Milo Rau’s 12-year-old theatre and film production company IIPM focus on historical and sociopolitical conflicts. The group has brought its piece about the 2012 murder of a gay man in Belgium to the National Theater

By Diane Baker  /  Staff reporter

Milo Rau’s The Repetition Histoire(s) du theatre (I) will be performed at the National Theater in Taipei tomorrow and Saturday as part of the Taiwan International Festival of Arts.

Photo courtesy of Hubert Amiel

Swiss-born director, journalist and author Milo Rau founded the International Institute of Political Murder (IIPM) in 2007 as a platform for his theatre and film productions, books and other activities, with bases in Switzerland and Germany.

The 42-year-old Rau and IIPM have focused on the multimedia, documentary treatment of historical and sociopolitical conflicts, ranging from the executions of then-Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu and his wife, the Rwandan genocide and Anders Breivik’s terrorist massacres in Norway in 2011 to the fight in one Swiss town over the right of foreigners to vote.

Asked why he is so interested in making audiences confront contemporary tragedies, Rau told the New York Times in October last year that he has always been interested in violence.

“Violence itself, but also social violence, political violence, those moments when society really cracks and everything’s possible. How are humans behaving in that moment, and 10 years, 20 years later? And why do they not behave like it normally? Theater’s the one place — the public place — where you can talk about that trauma somehow,” the Times quoted him as saying.

His productions led one publication to call him “the world’s most controversial director.”

Rau became artistic director of NTGent, the main theater in Ghent, Belgium, in February last year and created more controversy by issuing his “Ghent Manifesto” in May, setting out how he thinks theaters should be run, which ranges from banning performance of classic works and staging productions in war zones, to including at least two amateurs in every production.

However, point No. 1 was: It’s not just about portraying the world any more. It’s about changing it.”

Performance notes:

WHAT: The Repetition Histoire(s) du theatre (I)

WHEN: Tomorrow at 2:30pm and 7:30pm, Saturday at 2:30pm

WHERE: National Theater (國家戲劇院), 21-1 Zhongshan S Rd, Taipei City (台北市中山南路21-1號)

ADMISSION: NT$600 to NT$2,500, available at NTCH box offices, online at and at convenience store ticket kiosks

It is all about Rau’s quest to seek answers to the question of the representation of violence and traumatic events on stage, how to respectfully explore human tragedy while maintaining the power of live theater.

As part of that quest, he and IIPM have begun a long-term, multi-production project titled Histoire(s) du theatre.

The company is in Taipei this week to perform the first work in this project, The Repetition Histoire(s) du theatre (I), which premiered at the Kunstenfestivaldesarts in Brussels in May last year.

The play tells the story of a 32-year-old Belgium man, Ihsane Jarfi, who was brutally tortured and murdered in 2012.

Jarfi was last seen alive after leaving a gay bar in the city of Liege on April 22; his body was discovered by hikers on the edge of a wood on May 1. Jarfi’s murder and the subsequent trial roiled Liege.

His murder was the first to be prosecuted in Belgium as homophobic hate crime under a 2003 law which made sexuality an aggravating factor for such offences.

In December 2014, four men were found guilty of killing Jarfi: three were convicted of murder with homophobic motives, a fourth was convicted of manslaughter with homophobic motives.

In The Repetition Histoire(s) du theatre (I), Rau worked with six professional and amateur actors to reconstruct the case as a play in five acts, seeking to discover what is at the beginning of a crime, what part does an audience play and is there a collective guilt to blame.

The show runs about 100 minutes, without an intermission, and will be performed in French and Flemish, with Chinese subtitles. There is an age guidance of 16 on the production, with contains partially nudity and violent subject matter.

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