What do we mean by the word 'flee'? And what about 'homeland'? What does the new Europe look like? As the final piece in the European Trilogy, a three-year research project into the myth and reality of Europe, Milo Rau presents Empire, biographical close-ups of people who have come to Europe as refugees or who live on the periphery of Europe.
The great history of Europe in 4 small biographical stories of refugees.
Empire follows The Civil Wars and The Dark Ages as the final piece of Milo Rau's Europe trilogy. Prior to Empire, Rau created The Civil Wars (2014) and The Dark Ages (2015). With Empire, he sticks to the concept of these performances, which were staged in a living room and a study. In part one, Rau and his French and Flemish actors concentrated on the stories of the old foreign fighters in Western Europe, in part two he moved on to Central Europe, with stories of actors from Russia, Bosnia, Serbia and Germany interwoven with the history of the Second World War the more recent Balkan War. Four people, a Greek, a Romanian, a Syrian and a Syrian Kurd, sit at a kitchen table and tell about their lives. That's it. Make no mistake, however. What is unfolding here is the history of Europe. To the present day, the world today, this kitchen table.
Rau sees Europe as a realm of ancient myths and contemporary realpolitik, the heimat of the eternal homo migrans. He has incorporated all of this into Empire. Greek national Akillas Karazissis fled the military regime in his country and moved to Germany. The grandparents of Romanian actress Maia Morgenstern were murdered in the Nazi camps. She grew up under the Ceaușescu dictatorship and lived through the Romanian Revolution. The two Syrians, Rami Khalaf and Ramo Ali, had to leave their homes behind for different reasons.
In the press
"We saw the best play of the past year: Empire. Another play about the hottest problem of our time: refugees. But what a play. Smart, visually stunning and - fortunately - absolutely not pedantic." - De Tijd
"This is a lesson in empathy. The life stories are so moving, so surprising, so great in their suffering, so deep in their humanity, that you as a spectator follow them breathless and enthralled." - Stuttgarter Nachrichten
"Milo Rau weaves the life stories of four actors from Europe and Syria into an exemplary piece of European history in a penetrating and refined way." - Etcetera
"The life stories are so moving, so surprising, so great in their suffering, so deep in their humanity, that you, as a spectator, follow them breathless and enthralled." - Stuttgarter Nachrichten
"Rau directs his epic modestly and simply, together with his actors. He skilfully places the private stories of his actors into the context of history and current politics." - De Standaard
"The light goes out and the audience breaks into a long and intense applause. You clap out of respect for the four people on stage who have moved you, but you also clap away an unease that has nestled deeper and deeper into you throughout the performance." - Etcetera
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