Rimini Protokoll puts the audience in the center of the Situation Room
A money-laundering agent, a Greek tank driver, a Congolese child soldier, a Philippine gun manufacturer, an Indian human rights lawyer, or an American fighter pilot - on the surface, they don’t appear to have anything in common. But scattered around the globe, their lives are deeply shaped and intertwined by the underworld of weapons.
Rimini Protokoll’s ‘Situation Rooms’ is a performance piece exploring 20 different characters entangled in the global arms trade amidst pistols, missiles, and drones of government-sanctioned and unsanctioned violence. It creates a maze of scenarios linking their biographies, from those who suffer blows to those who profit from them.
A group of three artists based in Berlin, Rimini Protokoll is known for boldly experimenting with theatrical narrative approaches and blurring the boundaries between actor and audience. ‘Situation Rooms’ is their latest experiment, a multi-perspectival cinema, a video walk and augmented reality. They teamed up with the set designer Dominic Huber and video artist Chris Kondek to develop a stage/film set comprised of 15 different rooms, where the audience is integrated into the set.
Equipped with iPods and headphones, 20 members of the audience slip into the skin of the protagonists and become the actors themselves. They wander through the rooms and follow a film on their display, changing their identity every eight minutes. As they encounter one another in each room, they interact according to their specific identities, and in so doing oscillate between the pursuer and those being pursued.
In the process, the audience members engage in an intricately woven “shooting”, watching the same story unfold from multiple perspectives. They begin to embody each character, to understand the context in which they live or work, to experience a different logic and worldview so disparate from their own reality. How does each character justify the work that they do?
‘Situation Rooms’ is a powerful display of clashing perspectives and contrasting norms in a world where no act is truly isolated, no consequence purely our own. In their attempt to disrupt and disturb the genre of theater, Rimini Protokoll adds humanity and humility to the political theater of the world.