Can we really ever see things as they really are?
To see things differently, or to see different things. Lotte van den Berg is a theatre director who favours a minimalist style with little text. Van de Berg’s silent productions reflect what we see and how we feel. They pose the question – What is it we really understand? Van de Berg introduces her audiences to different perspectives and angles.
Lotte van de Berg studied law, sciences and philosophy before turning to theatre. During her studies Lotte ended up in Antwerp, where in 2001 she directed ‘The Alchemist’ in HETPALEIS. That same year she won her first prize, the Top Naeff Award for ‘best graduate’ at the Amsterdam theatre school.
As a freelance director, she often works with young people and amateurs when creating theatre for both children and adults.Occasionally she makes theatre at the community-level, such as with inmates and guards of an Antwerp prison.
Van de Berg has directed (among others) for the NNT in Groningen, The Youth Theatre Lab in Utrecht (the Netherlands), Theater Malpertuis in Tielt and Theater Stap in Turnhout (both in Belgium). In 2003 she once again returned to HETPALEIS for the creation of ‘Waarom is het verschil van dat’ (Why is the difference of that). Later that same year Lotte directed the first version of ‘Het blauwe uur’ (The blue hour) for Theater Artemis in ’s Hertogenbosch. The performance was nominated for the 1000Watt-Prize and would later be produced at the Toneelhuis in Antwerp. In 2004 Lotte made ‘Ik zou mezelf willen weggeven, maar ik weet niet aan wie’ (I’d like to donate myself but I wouldn’t know to whom) for Het Huis aan de Amstel in Amsterdam. This performance was selected for the Theatre festival and earned her the Erik Vos Award, a Dutch prize for young directors.
In 2005, Toneelhuis Antwerp invited Lotte to direct a unique site-specific project in the Antwerp prison. ‘Begijnenstraat 42′ (the prison’s address) is a compelling, almost wordless performance in which inmates share the stage with wardens and professional actors. By means of simple improvisation exercises Lotte Van den Berg developed penetrating theatrical imagery. Is theatre art using community or community using art? The best is when it’s both, says Van de Berg after challenging her actors with a firm director’s hand to unblock emotions and imagination. In prison, people stop dreaming. They block emotions and their imagery is simple; almost reduced. It is a silent life, a simple life, with no room for dreams. Van de Berg approached the project from a process-oriented angle, not starting out with a form or idea but seeing where the work would lead them. In the end, the performance communicated that which needs to be told to the public, and that is one of the main reasons of art accordign to Van de Berg. Communication with responsibility in this case as the prisoners were left once again to their own avail after the intensity of working and creating in a group. Yet she believes they were all empowered from the experience, although she understands the ramifications of opening a long closed door to once emotional life and hopes.After her intense experience in the Antwerp jail, Lotte briefly returned to the Netherlands. She directed ‘In het verleden behaalde resultaten bieden geen garantie voor de toekomst’ (Results obtained in the past are no guarantee for the future) for NNT and Braakland (Wasteland) for Compagnie Dakar, and is curreuntly working out of Antwerp.
Author: Annika Salomonsson
Production / Performance,
A sound-proof booth on a thoroughfare in the city. One of the walls is made of glass and affords a view of a part of the bustling city. The audience sits inside and looks out.
On a sliding scale between reality and truth.
This artist took part in the following project(s) organized/funded by the culturebase.net partner institutions.
The SEAS Platform 2008-2010
(02 December 05 - 31 December 10)
Dutch theatre maker Lotte van de Berg interviewed by Professor Paul van den Hoven during the ´Whose Play is it Anyway?´ conference in Utrecht, November 24, 2007