The Creative Process of Rimini Protokoll

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Rimini Protokoll is a German theatre company based in “Hebbel am Ufer (HAU)” Berlin (Website). Rimini Protokoll is currently made up of a trio of stage artists: “Helgard Haug (1969), Stefan Kaegi (1972) and Daniel Wetzel (1969)” (Website) that work in a collective; pooling and blending their individual creativity together in different ratios for different Projects. “Rimini operate as a team of equals, without specifically designated roles and as such are different from well known avant-garde groups like the Living Theatre, Wooster Group or Forced Entertainment which are all based around a central persona (to say nothing of traditional director-led theater)” (The Story of Rimini Protokoll) The difficulties of working in such a collective is highlighted by the fact that Rimini used to by a group of four including Bernd Emst.

This style of working in a collective of equals makes the creative process of Rimini quiet unique, conceiving and pursuing projects and productions organically; where and when their different artistic interests and strains of thought and inspiration have overlapped. This can be seen in the example of the Rimini Collective’s first ever production as a group of four: Kreuzwortatesel Boxenstopp (Crossword Pit Stop) premiering November 2000.

In 1999, during a session an all night session in a sound session in the Institute for Applied Theatre Studies where they both studied, Daniel Wetzle and Stefan Kaegi “introduced each other to their respective work which they previously had barely known … More important however, than their lists of previous works, were current connections, shared ideas and above all an actual project that both had been developing along parallel lines: Kaegi, as well as Haug and Wetzle, had been planning a project using the old people’s home next door to the Frankfurter Kunstlerhaur Mousontur” (The Story of Rimini Protokoll). So at this point where the groups artistic directions converged they found themselves able to contrubte to a collective create process that finally produced their first production: Kreuzwortatesel Boxenstopp (Crossword Pit Stop). This was the project that initially founded the Rimini collective.

Within the Rimini Collective, the individual artists “have always had different interests and skills, and still do. Daniel Wetzle works in sound studios and as a DJ, Helgard Haugh concerns herself with spaces, Stefan Kaegi has for a long time been interested above all in the production of texts, and [the former member] Bernd Ernst has always looked for a story, a plot” (The Story of Rimini Protokoll). For this reason the individual artists of the collective work in ““informal configurations”(The Story of Rimini Protokoll)  that suit their “different aesthetics and interests”(The Story of Rimini Protokoll) at the time they collaborate to produce various Projects in different combinations: “Kaegi on his own, Haug on her own, Haugh/Wetzle or Ernst/Kaegi/Wetzle or Ernst/Haug/Kaegi/Wetzle”(The Story of Rimini Protokoll)

As press interest increased in the collective and for financial and practical reasons they decided to name themselves. “The casual pragmatism of finding their name is symptomatic of the way the group understands itself to this day. As one in which, alongside friendship and collobration, there is a non-ideological, almost businesslike association” (The Story of Rimini Protokoll) This goes to show how far within the creative process the individual artists of the collective remain independent; converging and collaborating where and when their individual artistic drives coincide rather than collaborating in a creative process with the  context of a collective artistic movement and drive.

This view of how the creative process of the Rimini Collective works is supported by various statements the individual artists have made. “ We still listen to each other with a sense of detachment. That is what is interesting: that you work on other projects in other arrangements and are altered by them. We have to rediscover each other anew everytime” (Haug- (The Story of Rimini Protokoll)) “In the meantime it is essential to find yourself anew each time and to ascertain what it is you actually want” (Kaegi – (The Story of Rimini Protokoll)) Here it can be seen that  in the creative process the artists “listen to each other with a sense of detachment”, while remain independent in what they as individual artists “actually want”, and if what the various artists “actually want” individually don’t coincide sufficiently then they won’t collaborate together on that particular project. This can be seen in the case of Bernd Emst, the former member of Rimini, he “ had never fitted in that well to Rimini Protokoll – his imagination went in other directions and the size of the group was not his thing.” (The Story of Rimini Protokoll)

So it maybe asked, if within the creative process of the Rimini collective, the individual artists remain artistically independent, how it is that their various projects seem to have such a Unity: creating a distance overall style in the experiences they offer audiences?  The answer lies in how the individual artistic characters and styles have been shaped by the whole group’s prior educaton in the subversive and experimental atmosphere of the Institute for Applied Theatre Studies; a school dedicated to “the production of contemporary and experimental theatre forms” (The Story of Rimini Protokoll)

Previously within the institute, Bernd Ernst and Stefan Kaegi had worked together under the name of “Hygiene Heute” (Hygiene Today), while Helgard Haug and Daniel Wetzle and another had worked together under the name of “Ungustraum – Alles zu seiner Zeit” (Unfavourable Space – Everything in its time). Crucially the common factor in both groups that led to their eventual union,  is how “the performer-self (to say nothing of the actor-self) was regarded very critically” (The Story of Rimini Protokoll). This shared instinct against representation stemming from a subversive attitude against main-stream theatre, “questioning how the powerful black box [generic stage] is a representation machine and how far whatever you place in it automatically becomes theatre” is what all Rimini members have in common, and arguably was instilled in them by their common education in the Institute.

Bibliography:

http://www.rimini-protokoll.de/website/en/about.html

Dramaturgies of care and Insecurity The story of Rimini Protokoll by Florian Malzacher

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