The piece development Blind Chicken! No parents, no police! was created in cooperation between Art Vagabonds Rezo Afrik, Afrikavenir and the Jugendtheaterklub P14 of the Volksbühne am Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz! The project, which lasted several months, enabled the young people to engage with and internalize critical whitenes, their privileges and the occurrence of everyday racism in Berlin. Another central theme was the freedom to travel and the international passport ranking of the German E.U. Passport in comparison to non-European, especially African passports.
Childhood and play as the red thread of piece development
Colonial History: Berlin Conference 1884/85
The West Africa Conference 1884/85 was held in Berlin at the invitation of the German Chancellor Otto von Bismark and was intended to regulate freedom of trade in Niger and Congo. Their final document, the Congo Act, formed the basis for the division of the continent into colonies in the following race for Africa – the young people took a closer look at the West African country of Benin. In addition to the colonial scars, positive aspects regarding similarities in “childhood and play” were also brought to mind. Childhood plays from African and European countries thus laid a humane and dramaturgical narrative thread of the play’s development.
Premiere of P14 at the Volksbühne am Rosa-Luxemburg Platz Berlin
Blind chicken instead of blind cow!
In the course of the rehearsal process, the approach of weaving the children’s game Blind Chicken, which is played in Germany as Blind Cow, into the scene was developed. The representation of the chickens should not happen realistically, but should be interwoven with the masks and voodoo tradition of Benin. Using video and image material, the young people began to explore Benin’s animistic traditions through research and created their own personal view of the mask figure according to the simple design principle “African Mask + Chicken = Blind Chicken”, which they later embodied in the performance.
The masks had to cover several dramaturgical functions in the staging: they were politicians*, a chicken choir, dancing chickens, blind chickens, bank robbers* and as spatial objects themselves also exhibits or Benin masks in an exhibition in Europe. Materials such as wire, springs, spectacles, tinsel, balloons, beaks, foam materials, rubber chicken parts from the Volksbühne’s collection were made available to us and brought to the rehearsal stage. During an all-day action, the young people assembled their exhibits in a mask workshop according to their own ideas and needs. The chicken masks played a decisive role in the aesthetics of the production.
The project lasted five months. The participants were teenagers and young adults aged 14-25.
Mask workshop to prepare the premiere of Blind Chicken!