Esplanade Presents


The Mining Trilogy: Pleasant Island

Silke Huysmans and Hannes Dereere / CAMPO (Belgium)

2 Aug 2023, Wed, 8pm

3 Aug 2023, Thu, 8pm


(Intermission: None)

Esplanade Theatre Studio

This event is over.

Photo Credit: Shun Sato
Photo Credit: Nuno Direitinho

“Interesting documentary theatre, about a part of the world that seemed almost forgotten.”

– De Volkskrant


“It’s the genius of the editing that makes ‘Pleasant Island’ a hallucinatory document with an unprecedented form, between performance and documentary.” 

– IO Gazette


Encounter this modern-day parable, told through historical records, personal accounts and multimedia recordings, interwoven into a sequence informed by the language and aesthetics of digital culture.


Hidden in the Pacific Ocean lies the island of Nauru, once called Pleasant Island by European explorers. Although its size makes it one of the smallest nations in the world, its history is both large and significant. Nauru is often seen as a parable for our current world. The island was severely impacted by the effects of colonisation, capitalism, migration and ecological distress of which the consequences still linger today.


After the exhaustive exploitation of its natural resources, the island was left in economic and ecologic ruins. Today, Nauru is most known for hosting Australian refugee detention centres in return for a large amount of Australian money. This sparked the government of Nauru to ban most journalists and researchers from entering the island in an effort to keep negative news from reaching the outside world. Meanwhile, the island risks being swallowed by the ocean as a result of the rising sea level. Theatre artists Silke and Hannes were exceptionally allowed to enter the island for a couple of weeks in the summer of 2018. In this post-apocalyptic setting, they try to capture the historical, ecological and humanitarian exhaustion of the island, and by extension of our entire planet.


In Pleasant Island, Silke and Hannes use their personal smartphones to navigate the spectator through audio and images from their research on Nauru. How does one encounter the limitations of a world that is intent on endless growth? What idea of the future is left on Nauru, and the rest of the world?


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.


By & With Silke Huysmans & Hannes Dereere

Dramaturge Dries Douibi

Sound Mixing Lieven Dousselaere

Technical Anne Meeussen & Piet Depoortere

Production CAMPO

Co-Production Kunstenfestivaldesarts, Spring Festival Utrecht, Beursschouwburg, Kunstenwerkplaats Pianofabriek, Veem House For Performance, Spielart & De Brakke Grond

Residencies Beursschouwburg, De Grote Post, KAAP, Kunstencentrum Buda, Kunstenwerkplaats Pianofabriek, STUK & Veem House For Performance, LOD

With The Support Of Vlaamse Gemeenschapscommissie & KAAP

Many Thanks To All Collocutors In Nauru 

Admission Age:
6 and above.
Language: English
Subtitle Language: English
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Artist Information

Silke Huysmans and Hannes Dereere


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. 

Date & Time

2 Aug 2023, Wed


Esplanade Theatre Studio

3 Aug 2023, Thu


Esplanade Theatre Studio
Tickets & Prices

Students, NSFs, Seniors & PWDs

Cat 1 $38 $30

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