Futuristic theatrical thinking about work in town

Futuristic theatrical thinking about work in town

Man is a machine or parasite, the character notes in a short parable by playwright Jebe Williams. You contribute or benefit from the contributions of others. In an attempt to evade this system, he dug a hole next to his house and sat in it, so that the hole inside was closed neatly.

Jibbe Willems is part of De Futuristen: a group of (theater) artists who meet a scientist or thinker and instantly make a series of short stage sketches. The idea is that a topic from both art and science is then highlighted. Previously, the group with a similar concept appeared on Oerol, among others.

Futurist’s new four-part series, which began Friday night (due to Corona per live broadcast), is about the future of work. What occupations will disappear, what will we consider necessary in sixty years and what a big city will look like? Planner Martin Hager, Director of Urban Futures Studio at Utrecht University, spoke to Presidents Erwin Maas and Greg Nottrot.

On the basis of Constant Nieuwenhuys’ book New Babylon, among others, but also the ideas generated by working from home in the Corona crisis, the changing work week and its potential impacts on urban design are investigated. Hajar mentions the rise of smart cities – the “city with components” – but also defines the countermovement: many people want to return to livable neighborhoods with low-rise buildings, green spaces and canals.

The sets of short interviews are interspersed with breaks from the five behind-the-scenes performers performing scripts they wrote on the same day, and sometimes during the same evening. Musician Frank Van Castern sings, among other things, a gradually grim, moody ode to a city all about efficiency. The writer asks Yost to believe in God in sympathetic prayer the relationship between action and meaning. Theater maker Michele Lyoma quickly examines in a slide show how modern literature, philosophy and pop culture have tried to escape the ruthless rhythm of action over the years. Based on all the input, painter Vera van Groos now paints her direct adaptation of the city of the future. The whole poses for a sympathetic theatrical talk show – though you hope the artists can confuse the world even more (and vice versa).

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Hajar argues that when speculating about the future, it is tempting to consider incremental change. But if you look back, you will see that moments of crisis often have drastically changed life. In short: The problem of the present is a precondition for a better future.

Herein lies the possibility of this encounter between art and science. Because it is precisely the artists who have specialized in shaping crises. Since the ancient Greek poets of tragedy inevitably pushed their heroes across the abyss into catharsis. When science tries to solve problems carefully, art can embrace crisis and also provide illustration through transformation, poetry, and provocation.

Diagram Presented by Vera van Groos during the performance.
Illustration by Vera van Groos

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