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The critical value of stereotype as a dramatic sign

Project: PhD-project

My artistic and theoretical research will mainly focus on the matter of the critical value of social stereotypes as dramatic signs. Under what circumstances are they, by being transferred to the stage, confirmed, and when are they negated? In other words, how tenacious are they, to survive critical questioning? Questions to be dealt with include: In what ways were/are stereotypes used in art in general and theatre specifically? How were/are they interpreted by the audience? What stereotypical images are commonly associated today with the words ‘foreigner’/’immigrant’ [‘allochtoon’], both in society and, more specifically, in theatre? Research revolves around a critical reflection on three of my own theatrical productions and their respective geneses. In Brothers of Charity [Broeders van Liefde], two ways of dealing with stereotypes in theatre are confronted, as this production was co-directed by Arne Sierens and myself. In Black Magic the functioning of stereotypes is seen from a different perspective: for the first time it is the black-African stereotype that is a central preoccupation, and not the Arab-Islamic stereotype. Ultimately, I will write a coda to my theatrical trilogy (The Lion of Flanders [De Leeuw van Vlaanderen], Our Lady of Flanders [OLV van Vlaanderen] and Brothers of Charity] which brings the three instalments of the family chronicle together. One by one, they will be tested against the findings of our theoretical and practical research. The necessary descriptive bibliography will predominantly focus on the issue of the representation of the Other, i.e. on the association of discourse and power. Finally, I will include a number of indispensable case studies, both domestic and from abroad. In these, I will examine the differences in perception of the works of ‘autochtonous’ artists presenting themselves as ‘foreigners’; both before and after exposure. The methods of ‘invisible theatre’, too, can shed new light on the questions mentioned above.