Milo Rau (1977) is not only a theatre maker, but also a filmmaker, sociologist, writer and journalist. Before he made his entrée into theatre, he spent years reporting from conflict areas such as Northern Iraq and Syria. In 2007, he founded the International Institute of Political Murder, which, in addition to theatrical productions, films, videos and performances, also publishes books and organises debates on social and political themes. In September 2018, Rau succeeded Johan Simons as the new director of NTGent.
"It's not just about representing the world anymore, it's about changing it." - Milo Rau
Rau likes to touch the nerve: in his 'theatre of the real' he does not shy away from hard subjects or social traumas. His performances are about social or political abuses, seen through the eyes of those involved, in which he often works with non-professional actors. He is best known for his re-enactments, in which he reconstructs events using thorough research. He travels to the world's hotbeds to do projects there.
Five Easy Pieces (with children about the Dutroux case), The Dark Ages (about the foundations of post-war Europe), The Last Days of the Ceausescus (about the execution of the Romanian dictator couple), The Congo Tribunal (a theatre and film project about the ongoing war) and Breivik's Statement (the Norwegian mass murderer's speech, read verbatim) are all perfect examples. His directorial debut as artistic director of NTGent (a performance that we certainly want to bring to Amsterdam for Brandhaarden) already managed to generate buzz before rehearsals even began. For Lam Gods (Lamb of God), based on the famous altarpiece by the Van Eyck Brothers, Rau was looking for 'modern crusaders', i.e. religious warriors. The call also mentioned IS fighters. That caused a small media maelstrom. This hot-button issue won't get quite that hot… there won't be any Jihadists on stage. But Rau told us what was behind the call: he wants to know what inspires contemporary religious fighters and what position do we take in relation to these extremists?
Although sometimes seen as provocation, Rau's work is not about merely reconstructing shocking or controversial events; on the contrary, he wants to know to what extent this past has an impact on the present, and what it means and evokes in the viewer today, so working with the people involved and historically correct sources is essential for him. Rau: 'For me, visiting the places and meeting the people it's about is very important. Even if I were to direct a text by Chekhov, I would go and see where Chekhov lived and try to find people who live in a situation like the one Chekhov described. For Five Easy Pieces, we wanted to speak to everyone who was involved in the Dutroux case: Dutroux's father, the researchers, the families of the victims, the children who survived. This is essential for political theatre: to involve the involved.'