WELLNESS – attention junkies

Foto: Justine Boutens

Foto: Justine Boutens



Vincent Riebeek and Florentina Holzinger perform their own work and, although they are not the most talented singers, the most eloquent actors or the most amazing dancers, they nevertheless succeed in playing their roles with a disarming naturalness, an enigmatic quality that every performer can and should possess.


However, contrary to what the word intuitively suggests, naturalness on stage requires a number of skills that no one possesses from the outset but which one must acquire. A talented performer has the sensitivity to make the right decisions at the right moment; he is simultaneously a successful performer, spectator and critic. Talent can provide the seed for this alertness but its fine-tuning and maturity requires extensive performing experience. It results in the need to perform often, particularly in the most varied circumstances. Because Riebeek and Holzinger’s work never pointlessly repeats itself, they create for themselves the perfect learning environment. Repetition results in a habituation that disconnects and ultimately even alienates the performer; instantaneous decisions deteriorate into habits and intuition into frozen automatism. On the other hand, the ever-changing environment that both performers create for themselves imposes an association with the here and now, a crucial alertness. Each individual moment of the performance conceals the possibility of examining the secrecy of that moment, always promising another opportunity.


Rediscovering oneself time and time again equally has pragmatic implications. It is actually what distinguishes Riebeek and Holzinger from many other theatre makers in an overpopulated industry and provides them with a tool to bind their audience closer to them.


Their performances do not end once the lights come on, but fill the ensuing interval too. The after-effects of one performance immediately create the buzz around the next. The audience is enticed not only to watch them but also to follow them. And it is in this way that Riebeek and Holzinger are undeniably children of their time, because they inject the basic principle of omnipresent social media into the theatre. They elucidate the vulgar fascination for monitoring any minor changes in another’s course. The distribution of booklets that are different every time, keeping a blog and even the inclusion of anecdotes about the creative process in the presentation itself are all elements that play on this. Vincent Riebeek and Florentina Holzinger invite one not just to follow their work but also to follow them. They become a product with its own name as a trademark, stars whose life behind the scenes clearly blends seamlessly into the one on the stage. On or off stage everything becomes a fragment of the same reality show; the only thing missing is the audience’s power to change channels. The archaic theatregoer knows he is trapped in a pseudo-virtual environment with no interface. The digitization of our daily lives may already have led to new patterns of behavior; its analogy or biological feedback is clearly still in its infancy.



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