> politiek

political > politiek [English/Dutch]

The term political is commonly seen as the following: being in relation to the government and other administrative institutions. The duty of the government is to serve the interests of its citizens, as individuals and as entities within society. Therefore, the political can be extended to mean anything that relates to those interests in any way. Is a performance then, political when a citizen waves a red flag and quotes Marx? It may heighten the morale of the left-wing community, but it wouldn't convert a neo-liberalist to a socialist. A performance that explicitly addresses societal issues can have less political impact than a performance that brings new insight, that stimulates the imagination, and that leads to action; even if its subject is not overtly political.

Everyday actions are also political: crossing the street when the traffic light is red; greeting a stranger in a city where everyone normally tries, nonchalantly to avoid making eye contact; deploying love as the ultimate form of resistance against the omnipresent demand of productivity. To act is to carry out a vision of how society should work, and is therefore political.

It becomes interesting when this action takes place in a social context and there is room for reflection, especially within a group where conflicting visions touch. The political performance has to open up this room, but not fill it. The performer who wants to be political has to dislodge something in the audience that won't be resutured as soon as they leave the theatre. They shouldn't feel at ease. They should itch. The performance should bring fire while also bringing people together to open up a dialogue.

Author and translator: Jan-Roelof Bathoorn