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Artist statement

I rarely feel like being an artist. I don’t believe you can be an artist 24/7. Being an artist is kind of a stand still. Theatre however means positive action. I feel like i am a theatre-maker 24/7.

I grew up around the stage, my mother being an actress playing classical plays in Hungary in the sixties. She died serval times on stage, and when she finally actually did in real life, i couldn’t tell the difference. But what i did understand was that stories can come alive, and that all people are full of stories waiting to be told. Stories have true power, and i understood how vulnarable our own story is and how desperate we are in wanting to connect our story to that of others. Local stories, that, in a nutshell, tell us something about the European story.

Every time i am at the end of such a story, a different point of view erupts and new questions arise, thus producing a free and uninhibited area of intimacy and imagination where all question marks are allowed.  Bringing all of us together, for a moment. In all honesty and maybe confusion. Ergo, i’d like to be the Louis Theroux of theatre. He once said: ‘My secret fear is that I’m not helping.’ That’s me.

The stage where i welcome the audience does not contain walls, allthough it’s a theatre. People are confused about what’s real and what’s not. Start to doubt things that they always took for granted. In these performances i am looking for intimacy, for what’s real. We talk personally, and can agree upon disagreeing. Maybe only on a stage (location) we can capture reality. Theatre for me is both fiction and truth in this very minute.

I try and capture the continous present. History is not static, not linear. Especially not for someone from Easteren Europe.

Since 1989 i live in Holland. People here consider me to be the ideal immigrant. Somehow it doesn’t feel like that. A question i ask myself is: what lays behind the first few waves of adapting to migration – from both sides?  My plumber is Turkish. My daughter is bi-cultural. My best friend is from Suriname. I chat with a Chinese woman and skype with artists from Flanders. My team in Amsterdam is plain white Dutch. I have been everywhere in an hours’ time, allthough i didn’t move myself. Is there anything that binds us? Have these things changed due to these waves of (im-)migration? Can a new kind of humanism be defined? What can be said about local identity these days versus European identity? I’d like to find out about that. On the streets, in living rooms, at street diners and story telling nights. This is Europe.

So much knowledge lies at hand in this new Europe. This knowledge just has to be found, developed, exchanged. These stories have to be told in such a way that they truly reach people. If art has to dive deep into the local areas, so be it. Policy, philosophy, politics and history have to be translated to stories that touch people – to inspire and commit them. Who else but artists are better equipped for this task?

Petra Ardai, 2016.