Letter of solidarity from Alain Platel and Frank Van Laecke

On behalf of the company les ballets C de la B, we would like to express our solidarity with the Dialog – Wroclaw Festival, who have invited us to perform two of our productions there in the near future.
It has come to our attention that the Festival is losing part of its subsidies for political reasons. As a result, the festival has been forced to cancel the presentation of some productions. Considering that Polish artists are the primary victims, which we find unusually harsh, this confronts us with a very difficult dilemma: either not show up and surrender our spot to the local artists, or DO come over to express our solidarity.

We have opted for the latter because we ourselves attach great importance to participating in the public debate that this is bound to spark. Indeed, what is currently happening in Poland is already affecting many other places in Europe and around the world: the slashing of subsidies for culture, education and welfare for the purpose of reinvesting them in business, security or the military. But there’s more. In certain places, politicians who want to obtain implicit or explicit control over the content of cultural activities are becoming an increasingly visible phenomenon. And, in that respect, the ethical criteria being touted are more often than not very conservative.

The (theatre) stage has traditionally always been the place where personal as well as social trauma, wounds, questions and problems have been raised and presented. Either in a sharply challenging manner, or through elaborate metaphors. But we should make no mistake: “the audience” is smart ànd generous. “The audience” realizes that the theatre is a place of urgency, where matters can be brought into focus and to a head.

That is in fact the reason why many people go to the theatre in the first place! It’s one of those few remaining places of Great Freedom that we need to absolutely cherish. Freedom of expression, of attending or, if needs be, leaving a performance prematurely.

Very often, there are opportunities for getting a dialogue going between makers and audiences, which most certainly is the case with Wroclaw’s – what’s in a name? – Dialog Festival. The festival is renowned for its great openness towards the complex world we are living in.

We have decided we would definitely come to Wroclaw and assess, right there on the spot, how we can support the festival, the artists and the audience in their ambition not to be curtailed by a government who should be supporting them in the first place!

Alain Platel and Frank Van Laecke