Lotte van den Berg
Lotte van den Berg (1975) studied from 1997 to 2001 the directorial education of the Amsterdam School of the Arts. After graduating Lotte van den Berg worked as a freelance director for various Dutch and Flemish theaters. From 2005 until the beginning of 2009 she worked as a permanent director for Toneelhuis in Antwerp. In 2009 she started her own company OMSK. With OMSK she worked in the first years from the Energiehuis in Dordrecht and at the end of 2012 she moved to Utrecht. Here Lotte van den Berg settles in Het Huis, together with other makers, including Boukje Sweigman and Dries Verhoeven. In 2014, Van den Berg founded Third Space foundation, where her work has since been produced. As a final director Van den Berg is involved in the creation of the performers collective Schwalbe.
Lotte van den Berg won several prizes, including the Erik Vos prize and the Charlotte Kohler prize. Her work can be seen at renowned theater festivals throughout Europe and her work is also played in America, Canada and Africa.
Lotte van den Berg was born in 1975 in Groningen. Already during her early youth, Lotte became fascinated by theater. As a little girl she followed the work of her father, theater maker Jozef van den Berg, from the side of the stage. At the University of Amsterdam she studied Law for a short time, followed by Theater Studies and Philosophy. It is becoming clearer to her that she wants to make theater herself and in 1998 she is hired at the directing course at the Amsterdam School of the Arts. Together with her classmates Olivier Provily and Marcus Azinni, she also received the Top Naeff prize as ‘best graduates’ at the Amsterdam drama school that year.
After her studies, Lotte van den Berg immediately started working as a freelance director at various Flemish and Dutch companies. She directs at NNT in Groningen, Het Lab van de Berenkuil in Utrecht, Theater Malpertuis in Tielt and Theater Stap in Turnhout.
“I make theater and ask myself the same question over and over again. How can I create a space where you can look without words and rules? A space in which the spectator becomes a participant who can undergo the performance without expectations.”
Lotte van den Berg often creates on location, both for children and adults, and chooses to work with professional actors, with young people and people who are not professionally connected to theater. In 2003 Lotte van den Berg directed the first version of Het blauwe uur at Theater Artemis in ‘s-Hertogenbosch. This wonderful performance, which took place just before sunrise on the street in a residential area, is nominated for the 1000Watt prize and will later be taken back at Toneelhuis.
In 2004 Lotte van den Berg makes Ik zou mezelf willen weggeven, maar ik weet niet aan wie at Het Huis aan de Amstel in Amsterdam. The performance is selected for the Theater Festival and also gives her the Erik Vos prize, an incentive prize for young directors. Since Lotte van den Berg mainly works in visual form and usually uses text at least or not at all, her work is also cataloged by some in the mime. Ik zou mezelf willen weggeven, maar ik weet niet aan wie will receive a nomination for the VSCD Mime Prize.
In the meantime, Toneelhuis has invited Lotte van den Berg to direct a unique location project in the Antwerp prison. Begijnenstraat 42 becomes a poignant, almost wordless performance in which detainees stand together with jailers and professional actors.
“The prison project was a special experience for me, the players, the prisoners and the public. Everyone reacted so intensely, so much was released. “This must! This makes sense! “It was cheering through me. I could tell something about the details of life there, about small faith in a difficult place. About being vulnerable in a community that does not seem to tolerate that. “Lotte van den Berg has begun intriguing theatrical images in Begijnenstraat 42 on the basis of simple improvisation assignments. The project makes a big impression on the jury of the Charlotte Köhler in Amsterdam. Prizes: “Lotte van den Berg makes violent statements about reality in her theater work, not on a realistic but on a deeper, more abstract level. She is looking for ways in which she can mix reality and the theater.”
Lotte van den Berg wins the Charlotte Köhler Prize, which is awarded on 28 June 2005 by the Prins Bernard Culture Fund.After her intense experience in the Antwerp prison, Lotte returns to the Netherlands for a while. She works at NNT on the performance. Past results are no guarantee for the future and at Compagnie Dakar she makes Braakland. Fallow land takes place in the open field, in an abandoned area and starts from the question of what happens when someone decides not to fight for his life and to accept what happens.
Bubble around the everyday
During the Toneelhuisseizoen 2005-2006, o.l.v. Josse De Pauw, Lotte van den Berg signs for the folkloristic direction of Volk; a year later Guy Cassiers offers her a permanent home at Toneelhuis. Her first production in the new Toneelhuis constellation is Stillen, a wordless and poignant performance about bodies that need each other. “Wary of any cheap sentiment or overwhelming patheticism, Stillen exudes a subtle beauty that comes from the inside and settles there.” “Shaved theater”, continues Daniëlle De Regt in De Standaard, “is the trademark of Dutch director Lotte van den Berg. It does not work in words, but in silent images that bear little frills. Van den Berg blows a bubble around the everyday to capture the bare essence. “(November 21, 2006)
Afterwards, Lotte van den Berg makes Gerucht / Rumor: She places a sound-proofed space in a continuous location in the city. The audience sits inside and looks outside. That provides a special theater experience.
“The most beautiful theater is just on the street. That proves theater maker Lotte van den Berg with the performance Gerucht. The audience sits in a soundproof box on a Utrecht square and looks out on the daily city life. Four actors mix between the passers-by. For the people in the square they are the umpteenth walker, the spectators follow their movements. Sometimes sounds enter the box: a telephone conversation, the beating of a heart. In this special way, Lotte van den Berg tries to show that all those people who we pass every day have the same feelings and desires as we do. That they are in love or lonely, that they want to be touched. Rumor is different every day thanks to the mobile city. What is the same every day is that the unsuspecting passersby play the most beautiful roles. And through this beautiful performance you can be taken away from anonymity for just a moment.” (Robbert van Heuven, De Pers, 21 May 2007).
In the 2007-2008 season Lotte van den Berg makes Winterverblijf, a production for the big hall, about the beauty of the attempt to believe in something. The performance that begins with the playing of the tape in which her father decides to quit theater to devote himself to faith, and then confronts actors and audiences with the question of what is ‘true’ afterwards on the theater scene. Karin Veraart: “With Winterverblijf Van den Berg has made a daring and special performance, one with which she does not shy away from asking her audience, because in terms of rhythm and concentration this is certainly not a normal production. By which she shows herself to be a director whose talent is worthy of nurturing. “(De Volkskrant, 17 December 2007).
At the beginning of 2009 a new phase starts in her work. She leaves Toneelhuis and becomes artistic director of a new structure in Dordrecht that is named OMSK. Within this new structure, in which she surrounds a number of actors and artists, she continues her artistic adventure. New encounters and long joint trips abroad become an integral part of the operation. In the summer of 2009, Lotte van den Berg charts Het verdwalen in kaart / Mapping the unknown with fifty residents of the city of Dordrecht. The question from which she went to work with these people – plus a handful of actors – is simple: how do you get home in a place that you do not yet know, and vice versa, you can still get lost in a thoroughly controlled ‘society’? Het verdwalen in kaart / mapping the unknown is an art project as a journey through the city with films, photos and installations, and thus: a performance.
“Mapping the unknown is an introduction to a theater world that Dordrecht can be happy with.” (Karin Veraart, De Volkskrant, July 3, 2009)
In 2010 Van den Berg makes the short feature film An exercise in dying. The fact of the film is simple and penetrating. A man sees a girl die on the street. He watches without doing anything. In 2011 the film premieres at the Dutch film festival in Utrecht.
Continuous in conversation
In the summer of 2010 Lotte van den Berg works with a group of artists from June to September in Kinshasa, capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo. She works with Congolese theater makers and artists, with bicycle makers, street children and computer science students. In the middle of the city, in a busy square in the gray sand, OMSK presents work in progress and public rehearsals every Friday at nightfall. Continually in conversation with each other and the bystanders, OMSK explores how people look at the world while they are in the middle of it. Immediately after returning from Congo, OMSK will present Cold Turkey, a live montage of the material developed in Kinshasa in the previous months, under the direction of Lotte van den Berg. Lotte van den Berg uses these moments as public rehearsals in the run-up to the performance Les Spectateurs.
Heimweh and fernweh
Les Spectateurs will premiere on April 14, 2011. The performance is inspired by the movement from Dordrecht to Kinshasa and back. From the realization that it is important to nurture individuality and at the same time to enter into a relationship with what is strange to us, Lotte van den Berg moves between birthplace and unknown soil, between heimweh and fernweh.
‘The evening is a scenic translation of Van den Berg’s Africa experience. (…) The performance is pleasantly distinguished from the efforts of many other European theater makers, who have “understood” Africa so well that they inevitably go wrong. Lotte van den Berg’s approach is fairer, more modest, undoubtedly more promising. Her gaze on the strange is not omniscient, but searching. “I need the distance to get closer,” she says. And that applies to all continents.” (Renate Klett, Theater der Zeit, September 2011).
Radical and uncompromising
As director and mentor Lotte van den Berg is involved in the creation of performers collective Schwalbe. In 2008, 2010 and 2012 she guides these young, very physical and powerful performers in the search for their own theater language. This results in the performances Save them, On their own power and Vals, of which the last two are co-produced by OMSK.
‘Radical and uncompromising theater’ (Simon van den Berg, Parool, 22 June 2008).
Degradation of the social system
In 2012 Van den Berg makes Pleinvrees (Agoraphobia). The performance is made in response to the breakdown of the social system, from the need to express it individually and as a community. Agoraphobia is played in the open air, on a large square, in the middle of the city. Spectators follow via their mobile phone and from a distance a man who seems to talk to themselves, until they are addressed directly by him and he involves them in his solitary protest, his appeal to society.
“The strength of the project is the enlarged loneliness of that one so-called crazy person, in addition to the relative loneliness of the public… And those looking up or just looking away shoppers, also alone.” (Eric Nederkoorn, Dagblad van het Noorden, August 2012).
In 2013 the performance will be played in 5 languages, with 5 different actors, on squares throughout Europe. Journalist Anoek Nuyens traveled with the performance Agoraphobia and wrote a long essay about her experiences in Brussels, Paris, Munich and Rome.
‘In Agoraphobia, Van den Berg makes a radical proposal for what theater could mean in our current society, namely the creation of interstices, where people meet and exchanges take place, where life is emphasized as an activity, not something that you just think of. looking at a distance.’
Spectator and participant
At the end of 2012, OMSK moved from Dordrecht to Utrecht. Here Lotte van den Berg settles in Het Huis, together with other makers, including Boukje Schweigman (Schweigman &) and Dries Verhoeven. In 2014, Van den Berg founded the Lotte van den Berg foundation, where her work has since been produced. On 16 May 2014 Cinema Imaginaire will premiere at SPRING Performing Arts Festival Utrecht. The question that Lotte van den Berg focuses on here is whether you can be a spectator and participant at the same time. In 2014, Lotte van den Berg and the visual artist Daan ‘t Sas will start the ambitious project Building Conversation. Inspired by conversational techniques and rituals from all over the world, Building Conversation builds a repertoire of conversations / performances with participants from all over Europe. Building Conversation has now grown into a collective of artists; all fascinated by what happens when you meet in conversation. In Building Conversation, among others, the performative discussions Parliament of Things, The (im)possible conversation, Conversation without words and The agonistic conversation were developed. The interviews are conducted at arts festivals, schools, in collaboration with community centers and town halls. Building Conversation is produced by Third Space, the foundation set up in 2015 to make the work of Lotte van den Berg and its artistic partners possible. More information about Building Conversation.
“Our strongly polarizing society seems to be screaming for renewed attention for the conversation between people. How do we create the right conditions in which we dare to engage in the now highly charged ‘dialogue’? First of all, we must therefore look at how we talk to each other, and then how we could talk to each other. “
In 2018, together with artistic partner Daan ‘t Sas, Lotte worked on We Have Never Been Modern; an installation, workshop and exhibition in one. A research area where visitors can commemorate, shape and share their thoughts and feelings about our relationship with nature. We Have Never Been Modern is inspired in part by Bruno Latour’s work of the same name, premiered in 2018 at Oerol Festival and will be performed in port cities all over the world. More information about WE HAVE NEVER BEEN MODERN.
Van den Berg is currently working on a performance for the great hall; Dying Together about death as a connecting factor.
“I invite spectators as participants. And that is not without consequences. If I ask them to join, I will have to do that myself. We can not both, as it seems, stay on the sidelines. The Cinema Imaginaire, Building Conversation, Dying Together and We Have Never Been Modern projects are like spaces; spaces where we can meet each other. These are temporary public spaces in which we experience what it is like to look at each other and talk to each other.”
1975 / Lotte is born in Groningen.
1997 – 2001 / Director training at the Amsterdam School of the Arts.
2001 / Together with her classmates Olivier Provily and Marcus Azinni, Lotte receives the Top Naeff prize as the best graduates of the drama school in Amsterdam.
2002 / Freelance director at various Flemish and Dutch companies, including NNT in Groningen, The Lab in Utrecht, Theater Malpertuis in Tielt and Theater Stap in Turnhout.
2003 / Direction The blue hour at Theater Artemis in ‘s-Hertogenbosch
2004 / Direction I would like to give myself away, but I do not know to who – The House on the Amstel in Amsterdam. The performance is selected for the Theater Festival and also gives her the Erik Vos prize, an incentive prize for young directors.
2005 / Begijnenstraat 42, a unique location project in the Antwerp prison produced by Toneelhuis. Van den Berg receives the Charlotte Köhler prize for this performance.
2005 / Results achieved in the past are no guarantee for the future at NNT Groningen.
2005 / Braakland – Compagnie Dakar
2006 / Stillen – Toneelhuis.
2007 / Gerucht – Toneelhuis.
2007 / Winterverblijf – Toneelhuis
2008 – 2010 / Lotte is the end-director and mentor of performers collective Schwalbe. In 2008, 2010 and 2012 she guides these young, very physical and powerful players in the search for their own theater language. This results in the performances Save them, On their own and Vals.
2009 / Lotte establishes her own company OMSK.
2009 / Het verdwalen in kaart – OMSK
2010 / Atelier Kinshasa – OMSK
2010 / Cold Turkey – OMSK
2011 / The short feature film An exercise in dying is premiered at the Dutch Film Festival in Utrecht.
2011 / Les Spectateurs – OMSK
2012 / Pleinvrees (Agoraphobia) – OMSK
2012 / Lotte makes Street during Festival aan de Werf in Utrecht, within the Parallel Cities program of Rimini Protokol.
2014 / Cinema Imaginaire
2014 / Conversation without words, Thinking together – an experiment, The (un) possible conversation, Agonist conversation – Building Conversation
2015 / Stichting Third Space is founded, from which Lotte realizes her performances and projects.
2015 / Building Conversation tours among others through Germany with 24 meetings in Munich and 24 meetings in Dusseldorf.
2016 / Premiere of three new conversation forms Parliament of Things, Timeloop and General Assemble – Building Conversation
2017 / Start Conversation Marathon through Amsterdam, starting in Amsterdam Noord – Building Conversation
2018 / Building Conversation, We Have Never Been Modern, Dying Together / Orgy Alone