This year Incubate presents not only a lot of great music, films, visual art and debate, but we’ve asked Zeebelt to put together a theaterprogram that can match the rest of the program. And so they did. A week ago we announced one theater addition a day of Zeebelt in Residence for seven days on a row. We hope you like it as much as we do.
Artistic director of Zeebelt Judith Schoneveld was so kind to take some time to answer some questions about Zeebelt and their residence. We hope that the following questions give a good picture of whats Zeebelt and their theater program is about.
Please introduce yourself and Zeebelt for those that don’t know you or Zeebelt yet.
My name is Judith Schoneveld. I am a former visual artist and now artistic director of Zeebelt. Zeebelt has been around for some time. It started off as a multidisciplinary artist’ initiative in The Hague, around 25 years ago. This was the time of exciting experimentation in performance, live cinema, sound and body art. This new way of making performance and installations for a live audience has by now established itself in a modest way. The relation to visual art is still there and its influence on the more traditional performing arts is huge. Zeebelt has a unique position in this field. We work with (young) artists who do not fit the traditional mould. They are radical and singular in their own way . We work closely with them to develop and produce their work in our house. Because they usually work alone or in duo’s and the process is so personal, our professional practise sometimes feels like serial monogamy. Not a bad job at all!
How did you learn of Incubate, and what attracted you to it?
I first heard about Incubate when you were in trouble because you invited the radical Austrian artist Hermann Nitsch. That rings a bell! In choosing such an artist as a guest to the festival you made your position clear and that attracted me a lot.
What is the reason you’ve selected these seven works for Incubate? What’s the thing that sets these pieces apart from others, or holds them together as a programme?
Firstly Incubate offers me the satisfaction to show and combine a collection of performances which were made in Zeebelt. Normally we work one fresh piece after the other and send it on its way at the end of the process after one or two presentations. So this is great, having them together!
The pieces are mostly small-scale, intimate and obviously hand-made. Usually the artist is also the performer. Formwise they do not have much in common (which is probably what also binds them). Each form originates from an idea, a question, an exploration and we do not compromise to fit into existing formats or categories , nor do we fanatically strive for the new. I think it is this mentality of the artists and their explorers attitude that binds the programme. Also, the performances seduce the audience into concentration and openness . Once you’re there, you experience visual riches, visceral spheres and wonder.
Why do you think these works fit perfectly into the Incubate festival? Could you give one sentence in which you summarize the ‘Zeebelt in Residence’ programme?
No categories, risk taking and generosity; I think that is what makes the match between Incubate and Zeebelt. Zeebelt has a nice ‘ yell’ to its name: The Scene for Singular Talent. It also makes sense here.
How important is the audience for theater, and do you see that the role of the audience is changing?
No live performance without audience!. Audience makes the performance complete. It is a direct meeting between them and the artists during which the artist proposes a vision, an idea. They share presence, space and time. The response of the audience (both active and passive), their feeling and understanding, has to be there.
There is a shift in the relation between performance and audience; artists are opening up their process. They involve amateurs and find roles for the audience in the work itself. They investigate how they can enlarge the relevance of the audience being present; how to connect to issues that engage them. Also the audience is much less passive. New media influence us all to become designers of our own experiences and self-image; we are becoming more artificial. This issue interests many artists; how does this influence who we are and how we live?
What do you hope that people pick up of the Zeebelt in Residence program? What is the goal?
I hope they have a good time and become susceptible to the way the performances reflect on reality, possibilities and imagination. The goal of the programme is to make you wonder about ‘ life, the universe and everything’ and enjoy the ride.
I’m looking forward to the festival!