About the Production
In times of global crisis, it's all about global cooperation. Nevertheless, this time the crisis is being dealt with locally - on behalf of the world: at a conference that no one needs to book a flight or mount a train for. A performance to which the invited experts and speakers do not appear physically, but are represented by local people who only receive their script at the beginning of their presentation. In Conference of the Absent, the audience observes people from their own city as they take on the identity of an absent conference speaker.
Completely without CO2-emissions and bad Skype or Zoom connections, but with all the performative means of the theater, the contributions and contradicting theses on the consequences of globalization will be delivered into the theater space - and settle them within it.
The advantage of not being there - not having to be everywhere at all - becomes a joint play that can be experienced anew every evening. At the center of this game are people who become carriers of ideas and playfully acquire both biographies of experts as well as their thoughts. In this way, absence becomes an added value because it creates space for new readings and unexpected perspectives. Ghostwriters and speechwriters, co-authors and directors at the same time, Rimini Protokoll turns documentary co-authorship into remote directing.
Helgard Haug, Stefan Kaegi and Daniel Wetzel founded the theatre-label Rimini Protokoll in 2000 and have since worked in different constellations under this name. Work by work they have expanded the means of the theatre to create new perspectives on reality. Rimini Protokoll’s purpose is to pry apart the sense of reality and present all its facets from unusual perspectives. Rimini Protokoll often develop their stage-works, interventions, performative installations and audio plays together with experts who have gained their knowledge and skills beyond the theatre. Furthermore, they like to transpose spaces or social structures into theatrical formats. Many of their works feature interactivity and a playful use of technology. Four of Rimini Protokoll’s productions were invited to the Berliner Theatertreffen. The Mülheimer Dramatikerpreis awarded Karl Marx: Capital, Volume One (2007) both with the audience award as well as the award for dramaturgy, the Faust Theatre Prize in 2007, the European Prize for New Theatre Forms in 2008 and in 2011 the Silver Lion of the Biennale for Performing Arts in Venice. The multi-player video-installation Situation Rooms about the weapons-industry got the Excellence award at the 17th Japan Media Festival. Since 2003, the production office of Rimini Protokoll is in Berlin.
From the Reviews
"Stefan Kaegi, Helgard Haug and Daniel Wetzel alias Rimini Protokoll called their production Conference of the Absent. The initial idea was born well before the pandemic: with the theater of "everyday experts", which has long been a catchphrase, Rimini Protokoll has been on the international scene for years. In 2019, the group dealt for the first time with the question of creating a theater that is sustainable in several ways, that does not need travel or stage set-up, but takes what is there. A poor theater in a way. Its richness lies in the fact that the owners of the story make them available and that the audience, with their permission, gives them body and voice, presence. "
The Conference of the Absent, on the other hand, whose research began two years ago, has shifted a little from the idea of sustainability to a question that is much discussed in the theater today: who speaks and who represents.
Eva-Maria Magel, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung