Last year I got the chance to experience Home Visit Europe, an interactive, participatory performance by the German theatre group Rimini Protokoll. The performance deals with big, abstract ideas of “Europe” in the intimate setting of a private apartment. When you purchase a ticket to the event, you receive your confirmation along with a time and an address. Upon arrival you’re greeted by the host and introduced to 14 other strangers who were sent to the same apartment.
I was studying abroad in Copenhagen when I attended Home Visit Europe. It was still early days in my exchange and I was only just starting to feel comfortable navigating the streets around my apartment. Now I found myself biking 30 minutes south of the city towards an unknown apartment full of strangers to discuss a continent I had only lived in for a few weeks. I contemplated turning around but I was already soaked from rain and a classmate who had attended the performance the week before mentioned something about home-baked cake. I was intrigued.
The performance took place in the bedroom of the young woman who had offered to host that evening. All fifteen guests crowded around a table that was covered in a large map of Europe. The rest of the evening unfolded like an elaborate board game. We took turns drawing on the map and asked and answered questions. As we discussed the history of the continent and more theoretical conceptions of Europe, we were also prompted to share personal anecdotes and stories. The performance was abstract and intimate, dealing both with the political and the personal.
The performance also confronted the notion of home. I remember specifically one of the activities was to draw three lines connecting three places of significance to us when we thought of home. As the line I drew disappeared off the continent of Europe into the Atlantic Ocean I felt homesick for the first time. It didn’t last long. Soon there were more questions, and much laughter and yes, there was cake. I no longer remember the specific questions asked or the names of the other participants, but the performance made me consider “home” in a way that I hadn’t before and that has stuck with me. Like most of the other participants, I didn’t have one definitive answer about where home was, and as the performance progressed, I realized that I didn’t need one. I will forever be grateful for this experience and the way that it altered my mindset for the months to come. I stopped feeling like a visitor and instead allowed myself to feel at home.
Rimini Protokoll has been on my radar ever since, and now they’re coming to Montreal! In May 2017, the performance 100% Montreal will take place as part of the 375th anniversary of the city. The performance, which has travelled to many cities internationally, reveals the life of Montrealers through 100 citizens. This courageous group will then answer questions and move about the stage creating a living diagram that reveals statistics about the population of Montreal. Like Home Visit Europe, Rimini Protokoll will deal with big ideas in an intimate manor.
The performance runs from the 25th of May until the 28th and tickets are selling out fast!