The nomadic village theatre Rural Productive Forces will travel from partner to partner, through four regions of Europe with different stories, urgencies and perspectives on rural transformation processes, gathering new artistic collaborators and local actors in each location, involving farmers and land workers, ‘true locals’ and newcomers, school teachers and students, music and theatre groups as well as politically active or simply curious neighbours.
Migration and rural exodus, conflicts of interest between industrialized agriculture and small-scale producers, land grabbing and corruption, suburbanization and centralization of political decision-making – these are burning issues for many rural communities. The history of land use, the different value systems at work in (land) ownership, strategies of resistance and resilience, the cultural history of relations between the country and the city are just a few aspects of the complex social and historical questions. Each partner will address the ones most pressing in their respective local contexts.
The village play combines a documentary, investigative approach with collective playwriting and participatory practices from the visual arts. It explores imaginative ways of storytelling to which local collaborators contribute with their stories, ideas and visions for the future. The performance itself adapts to different situations locally: it can be a site-specific parcours through the village, activating public space, but it can also be performed on stage or in an exhibition space, where the images of the village are mediated via video footage, home-made props and scenery. Thus the project explores the possibilities of performative forms and collective creation, stressing not only political engagement, but also artistic experimentation.
Since 2003 the international artists’ collective founded by Kathrin Böhm (UK/DE), Wapke Feenstra (NL) and Antje Schiffers (DE) has been passionately questioning the cultural hegemony of the urban and initiates trans-local and co-operative projects in various villages and landscapes around the world, working with experimental formats such as the International Village Shop, nomadic rural schools, village revues and farmers’ films.