The theatre piece Blind Chicken! No parents, no police! was created in cooperation between Art Vagabonds Rezo Afrik, Afrikavenir and the Youth Group P14 of the Volksbühne am Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz! The project, which lasted five months, allowed the young participants to engage with and internalize the concept of critical whiteness. It also lead them to discover and understand their own privileges in society and the everyday occurrence of racism in Berlin. Another central theme explored was the freedom to travel and the international passport rankings, such as that of the German E.U. passport, in comparison with non-European passports, especially African ones.
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 Bismarck and was intended to regulate the freedom of trade between 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 dominance over the vast African territory. The participants in our production specifically took a closer look at the west african country of Benin. In contrast to the colonial scars, positive aspects like the similarities in childhoods and play of african and european countries were also explored. This laid a humane and dramaturgical narrative thread for the development of the stage play.
Premiere of P14 at the Volksbühne am Rosa-Luxemburg Platz Berlin
Blind chicken instead of blind cow!
During the rehearsals, the way in which to incorporate the children’s game ‘blind chicken’, which in Germany is called ‘blind cow’, into the scenes of the play was developed. The representations of the chickens should not be realistic, but should mimic the styles of the masks and the voodoo traditions of Benin. Using video and other tribal imagery, the young people began to explore Benin’s animistic traditions and created their own personal interpretation of a masked figure by using the simple design parameters of “African Mask + Chicken = Blind Chicken”. They later embodied these figures in their performance.
The masks had to bring to life all the relevant characters of the play: these were politicians*, a chicken choir, dancing chickens, blind chickens, and bank robbers*. Stage props and other materials such as: wire, springs, spectacles, tinsel, balloons, beaks, foam, rubber chicken parts were all provided by the Volksbühne am Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz. During a full day’s program, the young people assembled their creations in a mask making workshop. The chicken masks turned out to play 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!