“Not a full stop, but a comma,” said Prime Minister Mark Rutte in the government’s apology for the Netherlands’ role in the history of slavery. De Waarheidscommissie will proceed and imagine what could follow after this famous comma. Attend this unique, one-off Truth Commission at De Waalse Kerk in Amsterdam.
In De Waarheidscommissie, the audience, together with guests, speakers and performers, search for answers. What do we remember and what not? How do you deal with historical injustice? Is recovery possible and how?
Location De Waalse Kerk, Amsterdam
Run time 90 minutes
Until deep into the 20th century, the Netherlands exhibited thousands of men, women and children in so-called ‘human zoos’. For example, in 1883 at the World Exhibition in Amsterdam, people could view a reconstructed Kampong including 'authentic' residents and marvel at the Surinamese exhibited in a circus-like tent. These kinds of exhibitions, like freak shows at fairgrounds, were founded upon the fears and desires of the Dutch themselves. Their problematic curiosity towards the ‘exotic’ and the ‘unknown’ determined the way in which the people were presented as ‘primitive’ and ‘backward’.
In De Waarheidscommissie, the effects of these human zoos on today's society are explored in word, music and movement. Can you say that the history of ‘human zoos’ still has an effect today?
Consider, for example, ethnic profiling by the police, the surcharge scandal at the tax authorities, but also the 'innocent' sharing of images on social media of that 'exotic' trip. Aren't these examples simply an extension of the thinking patterns behind the human zoos? Following the example of the 'Truth and Reconciliation Commission' from South Africa, this Waarheidscommissie offers a stage to different voices and perspectives from the left and right wing. They examine the (colonial) legacy of the human zoo in the Netherlands.
In the preparations for De Waarheidscommissie, an artistic and scientific research team delved deeper into the human zoo in order to grasp the subject from all possible angles. For more background information and the research on the human zoos in the Netherlands, visit: www.dewaarheidscommissie.nl
directed by Chokri Ben Chikha
projectleader Sietske de Vries
production leader Lique van Gerven
technical supervision Bennert Van Cottem
text Erik-Ward Geerlings, Sharona Maguette Diop
music Seppe Salomé
with Kathleen Ferrier, Mpho Tutu van Furth, Bert Sliggers, Chantal Loïal, Iris Tjoa, Mareille Labohm, Fouad Mourigh, Moussa Ndiaye, Izah Hankammer, Arturo den Hartog, Zouzou Ben Chikha
photography Kurt Van Der Elst
video Sven Peetoom
website/socials Robin Laurens, Kirsten Lipman, Oya Ben Chikha
press Ronald de Groot
production Action Zoo Humain
a co-production of Theater DEGASTEN, Theater Rotterdam, deBuren, Internationaal Theater Amsterdam, Musis & Stadstheater Arnhem, de Brakke Grond, Action Zoo Humain
supported by Bijlmer Parktheater, IMPACT, Theater Zuidplein, NTGent, Provinciehuis Arnhem, Waalse Kerk, Debatcentrum Arminius, Fonds 21, Fonds voor Cultuurparticipatie, Fonds Podiumkunsten, Vriendenloterijfonds, Fonds ZOZ
this performance is made possible with the support of the Tax Shelter of the Belgian Federal Government through Cronos Invest
image source Group portrait of native Surinamese men, women and children with recruiter William Mackintosh at the International Colonial and Export Trade Exhibition in 1883 in Amsterdam. Collectie Nationaal Museum van Wereldculturen. Coll.no. RV-A2-3