ZKB Patronage Prize 2019

Samara Hersch & Lara Thoms (Australia) for «We All Know What's Happening»

Statement of the jury

This theatre production is more than theatre. Behind it lies a complex project: It starts with a theatre workshop and the plan to stage a history lesson and it ends up in an outstanding artistic format for political urgency. During its development, a group of young Australian performers got involved not only in a creative process but also in a contemporary political struggle for basic human rights. Samara Hersch and Lara Thoms invited the young performers to co-create a documentary theatre piece about colonial history and its repercussions for today’s transnational power relations. Through collaboratively acquiring knowledge the artists have developed the competence to articulate meaning and concern. Their way of working together is visible in the structure, aesthetics and articulation of the discourse. We therefore had the pleasure to see a straightforward, honest, eloquent and genuine play. But at the same time a generous, vulnerable and complex artwork. In «We All Know What’s Happening», Samara, Lara and the performers do not just present a story, but carefully consider their own place within this story. They use the traditional aesthetics of children’s theatre to create a common, seemingly innocent ground, which they then break up in order to unveil deep cracks in society.

The jury’s choice recognises the extraordinary complexity of Samara Hersch’s and Lara Thoms’ work, but it also is a gesture in support of the collective effort of young artists and activists.


ZKB Acknowledgement Prize 2019

Ira Melkonyan & The Rubberbodies Collecticv (Ukraine/The Netherlands) for «Upstairs Geology 50/50»

Statement of the jury

The forecast is not promising at all. The change has not reached us yet and at the same time it is happening in front of our eyes. We are sitting safely in a clean laboratory space consisting of human and non-human protagonists, witnessing their interactions and interdependence. It is a complex and colourful system that smells, melts, drips, leaks, freezes; it is being initiated and operated by humans but it vividly disobeys, breaking given frames and membranes. Liquids shift states and leave traces. Time goes through the materials and the materials expand in space. 

In «Upstairs Geology 50/50», Ira Melkonyan and The Rubberbodies Collective give presence to the effects of non-humans, challenging the distribution of authorship in the theatre field. This performative installation is an outstanding example of a political art work. It does not «mansplain» nature but instead invites us to go along with the transformation of a leaking landscape and to experience it — with all its risk. The female gaze opens a new perspective on not only the liquid processes that take place around us, but also on how we address them. At the same time, it gives a fascinating outlook on what is yet to be done.