Baraka! / 2007-2008
Intergenerational theatre project about coalmine barracks in Limburg.
Baraka is an ancient Arabic word meaning 'to be blessed'
A theatre performance with ex-miners, their children and grandchildren and everyone who felt attracted to this adventure in the Belgian-Limburg Mining region.
The dramaturgy of this project started from a series of interviews of former barrack dwellers in the Limburg mining region.
Miners, mostly (but not all) of foreign origin, and later their families, were initially housed in very rudimentary barracks camps, before they could move into a brick house. Two of the interviewees had stayed in later recuperated barracks as prisoners of war.
The memories of that time that emerged in these filmed interviews were surprising. The witnesses – who had lived in different camps – systematically pointed out the warm, supportive atmosphere that prevailed in these, after all, primitive residential camps. This led me to title the performance ‘Baraka!’, alluding to the Arabic word for ‘blessing’.
Twenty enthusiasts, all with a link to the mine work or the barracks camps of the past, worked together for a year on a theatre performance. One of the actresses with Bosnian roots had not so long ago stayed in a similar barracks camp for refugees in Germany during the civil war in former Yugoslavia.
This performance was multidisciplinary. It included choreographies that were both contemporary and from the Turkish folkloric tradition. There was singing and live music, there were projections, and there was acting in full. All the texts came from improvisation assignments. The themes came from the interviews.
There were four generations of actors on stage. Girls, men and women, grandfathers and a dog. Together with the recorded testimonies of individuals who were another generation older, we came upon four generations. The origins of the participants were as diverse as the mining area is diverse in terms of inhabitants: Italian, German, Greek, Turkish, Polish, Spanish, Flemish, Hungarian, Bosnian, and so on.
CC Casino Houthalen