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 colonization, 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 centers 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.
Silke and Hannes were exceptionally allowed to visit the island for a couple of weeks in the summer of 2018. In this post-apocalyptic setting they try to understand 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 to 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?
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 a 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 colonization 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. silkehuysmanshannesdereere.com
By & with: Silke Huysmans & Hannes Dereere
Dramaturgical advice: Dries Douibi
Sound mixing: Lieven Dousselaere
Coproduction: De Brakke Grond, KAAP, Kunstenfestivaldesarts, Kwp Pianofabriek, Spielart Festival, Spring Festival, Veem House for Performance
With the support of: VGC
Residencies: Beursschouwburg, Buda, De Brakke Grond, De Grote Post, Kaap, Kwp Pianofabriek, LOD, Stuk, Veem House for Performance
Thanks to: all conversation partners
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