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Het Wilde Western

Dance Music Theatre

Europe, The Netherlands, Utrecht

Common Stage is a stage in Utrecht-West where Het Wilde Western create Improvisation Performances with people from different backgrounds, ages, and artistic experiences.

Visitors of the Ubuntuhuis, which include people from the asylum seekers’ center, students from social or artistic courses, and local residents come to play.

Since Common Stage is on Monday afternoons, Het Wilde Western mostly attract people that do not work full time or otherwise have time at hand. They meet in the theater in the community art center Het Wilde Westen and in the parks in the neighborhood. They work with an ‘open door’, which means passers by are welcome to watch and are invited to join and play along.

The project is completely interdisciplinary: theater, dance, visual arts, music, film, photo, projection, light, literary. This method offers many entrances for different interests. People join in what is happening on the floor and everyone introduces their own unique contribution and talent to the creative process. The artistic team opens the creative space and holds it for the other participants. The team brings materials, instruments, lighting, amplification, as well work forms, methods, and experience and eventually invites the participants to do the same. The artistic team works on this project as a collective.

Professionals not only focus on their own disciplines but are also involved in the entire process. They take initiative in the creation process, yet input is expected from all participants. At this moment the team consists of Susan Bink (visual arts) Susi Rosenfeld (dance) Bart Bleijerveld (theater) Nick Hibberd (music). The artistic team draws from different artistic approaches like for instance Anna Halprin’s Live Art Process, Fluxus, Critical Response Process, Augusto Boal’s Games for Actors and Non-Actors, and the Ubuntu philosophy. Het Wilde Western work towards an improv performance with an interactive audience and celebrate every time they meet. Through Common Stage, participants build artistic skills and social empowerment/activation and work on self-awareness, integration, and community building. Everyone is challenged to represent and develop their own talents, traditions, and vision in powerful forms and are asked about what they want to share. Participants’ agency is essential to the success of working together in the improv performance. At Common Stage, they also do artistic research on participatory theater experience in which the distinction between performer and spectator disappears, in which unskilled performers develop performance quality and the differentiation between amateur and professional disappears. It is precisely in artistic expressions that differences can be played with and equality can arise.

Common Stage is located at Het Wilde Westen, a “Wijkcultuurhuis”, Community Art Centre, in Utrecht West. They consist ofa flock of artists who live in Utrecht West and decided at a given moment in their professional life to be meaningful to our direct neighborhood. This resulted in a living art center where the neighborhood participates in art courses and art projects. The 150 artists that are somehow connected work in the schools, in the eldery homes, in the Asylum Seeker Centre, in healthcare centers, on street corners, in living rooms and kitchens. Their mission is to make art, and the experimental space in which art is created, available to everyone. They do this by creating Art Based Communities, within the geographical neighborhood. Het Wilde Western encourage and enable the production of all arts in all disciplines. Utrecht West stretches from the train station in the city center to the Amsterdam-Rhine-Canal and has a very diverse population such as families, students, elderly people, singles, newcomers, children. More than 35% of Utrecht inhabitants have a migration background, which is reflected in the neighborhood of Lombok in Utrecht West. Social housing as well as expensive areas are mixed. Common Stage is supported by the City of Utrecht. The entrance to all activities is free, which enables Het Wilde Western to give open access to everyone who wants to join.

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