“…innovative staging that is both thought-provoking and emotionally resonant… It’s a timely show about being human in a world of global capitalism and capricious fate, without ever feeling like one: quite an accomplishment.” – The Irish Times
An aural tapestry of voices, each sharing their stories and perspective—when disaster strikes, what is remembered?
In November 2015, a dam containing toxic mining waste collapsed a few miles away from Belgium theatre artist Silke Huysmans’ childhood home in the South of Brazil. A devastating flood of mud destroyed several villages below the dam. In the next couple of days, the poisonous sludge flowed into the river Rio Doce and eventually reached the Atlantic Ocean. The ecological impact and environmental pollution was the largest ever recorded.
Silke returned to her hometown in Brazil together with her partner Hannes to talk to people affected by the incident and get a grip on its immense consequences. Back in Belgium, they did additional interviews with experts from various fields of knowledge, amongst others a mining expert, an activism researcher and an economics professor.
Using field recordings from their conversations in Brazil and Belgium, Mining Stories brings together multiple perspectives on the impact of the disaster. Each of the speakers tell the story of the disaster from their own context, with their own nuances and points of interest.
Moving deftly around a performance space, Silke silently activates these audio field recordings alongside multimedia projections. Like a conductor, she brings together these personal stories interwoven into an hour-long orchestral work composed of voices. At its heart, this documentary theatre performance lays bare the ripples of impact from a singular environmental disaster, crossing topics of memory, politics, religion, and storytelling.
Mining Stories was selected for Circuit X (Belgium) in 2017 and was awarded the main prize at Zürcher Theaterspektakel (Switzerland) in 2018 with the jury stating that “Huysmans and Dereere rely on an impressive yet simple staging, with an honest, ethical statement with regard to eco-political topics and issues.”
Mining Stories, Pleasant Island, and Out of the Blue are part of a trilogy by Belgium theatre artists, Silke Huysmans & Hannes Dereere, that explores our human relationship with mining.
Created by Silke Huysmans, Hannes Dereere
Performance Silke Huysmans
Dramaturgical Advice Dries Douibi
Technical Support Christoph Donse
Scenography Frédéric Aelterman, Luc Cools
Portuguese Transcriptions Luanda Casella, Miguel Cipriano
Production Kunstenwerkplaats Pianofabriek, Bâtard Festival
Supported by Vlaamse Gemeenschapscommissie, Sabam For Culture
Thanks to All Conversation Partners
6 and above.
Language: Portuguese, English and Dutch
Subtitle Language: English
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Silke Huysmans (°Brazil, 1989) studied drama at KASK School of Arts Ghent and Hannes Dereere (°Belgium, 1990) theatre sciences at Ghent University. With their performances, the two Brussels-based makers investigate the use of journalistic and documentary elements within theatre. Underlying their work is extensive field research that they use to shape their projects. Since 2016, they have been working on a trilogy involving long-term research on mining.
In 2016, the first part Mining Stories premiered at the Bâtard Festival in Brussels. For this performance, Silke and Hannes returned to the place where she grew up in Brazil. In 2015, a dam burst flooded this place with toxic mining waste, causing one of the biggest ecological mining disasters in recent history. Mining Stories was selected for Circuit X/Het Theater Festival 2017 (Belgium) and received the main prize at the Zürcher Theaterspektakel 2018 (Switzerland).
In 2019 the second part Pleasant Island premiered at the Kunstenfestivaldesarts in Brussels. In this performance, island state Nauru holds up a mirror to the world. Nauru was once a paradise in the Pacific. After decades of colonisation and mining, this island is literally at its water's edge due to rising sea levels.
Out of the Blue concludes the trilogy. In this final piece Silke and Hannes look at the future of mining. Through interviews and conversations, they sketch an in-depth portrait of an emerging industry: deep sea mining. The piece premiered at the Kunstenfestivaldesarts in May 2022.
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