Rotterdams Wijktheater

Europe, The Netherlands, Rotterdam
Art discipline: site-specific performance, Theatre
Participated in ICAF in: 2001, 2003, 2005, 2008, 2011, 2014, MINI-2011

Since its founding in 1992, Rotterdams Wijktheater (Rotterdam Community Theatre, RWT) has been producing theatre made for and by people with no previous experience of theatre. RWT achieves this by creating work that connects closely with the experiences of audiences we want to reach out to. RWT also organises the International Community Arts Festival (ICAF) every three years.

RWT uses the following proven and effective method:
● Productions are made in close collaboration with the actors, all of whom are from local Rotterdam communities.
● Local inhabitants put their experiences on stage under the guidance of professional writers and directors.
● These personal experiences relate to subjects that will be familiar to audiences: domestic or local tensions, the search for a cultural identity, friendship, ageing, and so on.

Every year, dozens of local members of the community step onto the stage that the first time in their life. For many, this is a life-changing experience. RWT performs between 70 and 80 times annually, for a total audience of around 10,000 people. In turn, these audiences often produce new generations of RWT actors.

RWT makes theatre aimed at specific target audiences, such as young people, women who are unable to leave the house in the evening, and the elderly. We sometimes collaborate with welfare organisations to produce educationally oriented performances that focus on subjects such as domestic violence, teenage motherhood, female circumcision and the relationship between young people and the police. Our productions are performed an average of 20 times each, in cultural centres, community facilities, and theatres throughout Rotterdam. RWT is also the in-house theatre company at Zuidplein theatre, a venue which aims to put on theatre productions that appeal to people who would not normally go to the theatre. Every two years RWT also produces a large-scale site-specific work. This involves working for a period of eighteen months in the selected neighbourhood with large numbers of locals. In the past we have done this in the Heijplaat and Katendrecht neighbourhoods of Rotterdam; we are currently working in Rotterdam's Oude Westen district.

- Women Connected (RWT): RWT theatre and video artist Kaat Zoontjens has a dream to create a worldwide relay of participatory arts projects involving women. At ICAF-6 we present the international start of this ambitious enterprise with two short pieces that Kaat created with a mixed group of women from Rotterdam. The shows include animation, dance, theatre and the internet;    

- residency with Upstate Theatre and Louise Lowe (Ireland): Over the past couple of years artists associated with Upstate have come to Rotterdam to see RWT's site-specific work. It led to a visit by RWT artists to Ireland in September 2013 and a concrete plan to work together in Rotterdam for a few weeks prior to ICAF-6. The artists are Louise Lowe, Stefan van Hees and Jasmina Ibrahimovic. The location is Tarwewijk and lodging will be provided by Atelier Tarwewijk. The rest is yet unknown.