Production company for Theatre, Film and Social sculpture
The IIPM – International Institute of Political Murder was founded by director and author Milo Rau in 2007 for the creation and international utilisation of his theatre productions, actions and films. It is based in Switzerland and Germany.
IIPM’s productions to date have met with a great international response and represent a new form of political art that is highly condensed in documentary and aesthetic terms – “Real-Theater” , in the words of Alexander Kluge. Since 2007, IIPM has realised over 50 theatre productions, films, books, exhibitions and actions. Its works have toured more than 30 countries and IIPM has been invited to show them at all of the major international festivals. The production company has repeatedly collaborated with, among others, the Berlin theatre Schaubühne am Lehniner Platz, the Théâtre Nanterre-Amandiers in Paris, the Theaterspektakel Zürich, the Kunstenfestival in Brussels, the Goethe Institut, Prohelvetia, the broadcaster ARTE, Swiss and German public television, the Berlin Senate and the German Federal Cultural Foundation.
IIPM’s project publications and volumes of essays have been printed in multiple editions (“The Last Days of the Ceausescus”, 2010), reprinted by the German Federal Agency for Civic Education for use in schools (“Hate Radio”, 2014) and named “book of the year” by taz – die tageszeitung (“What Is to Be Done? A Critique of Postmodern Reason”, 2013). Scheduled for publication in 2017 are a book on aesthetic theory, “Wiederholung und Ekstase” (Repetition and Ecstasy; Diaphanes Verlag, concluding volume of a research project on realism in the arts, carried out by IIPM at Zurich University of the Arts); the two project volumes on “The Congo Tribunal” and “1917” (both from Verbrecher Verlag); and the manifesto “Die Rückeroberung der Zukunft” (Reconquest of the Future, from Rowohlt Verlag).
Since its founding, IIPM has focused on the multimedia treatment of historical and sociopolitical conflicts. The production company has hauled onto the stage such topics as the execution of Nicolae and Elena Ceausescu (“The Last Days of the Ceausescus”), the genocide in Rwanda (“Hate Radio”), and the Norwegian terrorist Anders B. Breivik (“Breivik’s Statement”). Another performance project enacted a battle with a Swiss town parliament over the right of foreigners to vote (“City of Change”). In spring 2013, IIPM brought a completely new theatre format to life with two multi-day judicial spectacles (“The Moscow Trials” and “The Zurich Trials”). And, with “The Civil Wars” (2014), it launched the large-scale project “The Europe Trilogy”, which it continued with “The Dark Ages” in 2015 and concluded in September 2016 with “Empire”. In “Five Easy Pieces” (2016) and “The 120 Days of Sodom” (2017), Rau and the IIPM put the theatre’s range of instruments of empathy and portrayal to the test – with child actors in the one case and actors with disabilities in the other.
Accompanied by debates extending far beyond the art world, IIPM-produced films, video installations, performances, and stagings have been honoured with innumerable awards worldwide. The “profoundly touching” (La Libre Belgique) presentation of “The Civil Wars”, for example, euphorically celebrated by audiences and critics alike, received the Jury Award of the theatre triennial Politik im Freien Theater (Politics in Free Theatre) and was selected by Swiss Television’s expert jury as one of the “five best plays of 2014”. “The Civil Wars” was additionally named one of the “best plays in the Netherlands and Flanders in 2014/15”. The production of “Five Easy Pieces” (2016) garnered the top award in the Belgian Prix de la Critique Théâtre et Danse. Further honours include invitations to the Berlin Theatertreffen and the Festival d’Avignon, as well as the Swiss Theatre Award and the Preis des Internationalen Theaterinstituts (International Theatre Institute Prize).
“Theatre can hardly make a greater impact,” wrote the Swiss newspaper Basler Zeitung in its review of the lecture-performance “Breivik’s Statement”, which after numerous engagements was staged at the European Parliament in Brussels in 2014. The production “The Moscow Trials” led to an international debate on the freedom of art and censorship. The piece also gave rise to film and book versions in cooperation with, respectively, Fruitmarket Arts & Media GmbH and the Berlin publisher Verbrecher Verlag. The film has enjoyed international cinema and festival screenings, and was chosen for a “Special Award” at the 2014 Festival des deutschen Films (Festival of German Film).
Like the productions “The Last Days of the Ceausescus” and “Hate Radio”, “The Zurich Trials” spawned a feature-length film version that was broadcast on 3sat and Swiss Television and ran in selected cinemas. The audio drama version of “Hate Radio” received the renowned Hörspielpreis der Kriegsblinden 2014 (War Blinded Audio Play Prize).
During the 2013/14 theatre season, a retrospective of the work of IIPM was held at the Sophiensaele in Berlin under the title “Die Enthüllung des Realen” (The Revelation of the Real). The exhibition was accompanied by an eponymous monograph from the publisher Theater der Zeit, with contributions by, among others, Elisabeth Bronfen, Heinz Bude, Alexander Kluge, Sandra Umathum, Michail Ryklin and Christine Wahl that illuminate the work of IIPM from wide-ranging perspectives. On the heels of solo exhibitions in Austria (Kunsthaus Bregenz 2011, Academy of Fine Arts Vienna, 2013) and Switzerland (MigrosMuseum für Gegenwartskunst, Zurich, 2011, Konzert Theater Bern, 2013), this first retrospective of the work of Milo Rau and IIPM in Germany sparked heated debate in the press.
Monographic shows followed in Geneva (Festival La Batie) and Paris (Théatre Nanterre-Amandiers) during the 2014/15 season, and in Ghent (CAMPO) in 2015/16. The live talk-show series “Die Berliner Gespräche” (The Berlin Dialogues; in cooperation with the Sophiensaele and the Swiss Embassy, Berlin) in 2013/14 was the starting point for the production phase of Rau’s staging of “The Civil Wars” (2014), the first part of his “Europe Trilogy”. This monumental trilogy continued in 2015 with “The Dark Ages” and concluded in 2016 with “Empire”, in which thirteen actors from eleven countries subject the continent to a “political psychoanalysis” (Libération). Audiences and the press responded euphorically. The Austrian broadcasting service ORF, for example, described “Empire” as combining “the intimacy of a chamber play and the force of a Greek tragedy.”
“The Congo Tribunal”, conducted by Milo Rau and his team in Bukavu and Berlin in summer 2015, met with a worldwide media response. The production took the form of a people’s tribunal on the involvement of international mining companies, the Congolese government, and the UN, EU and World Bank in the eastern Congo’s civil war, which in twenty years has claimed over five million lives. Both the audience and the press followed the “immensely gripping” (taz) interrogations breathlessly. The Guardian called the piece a “landmark” and “the most ambitious political theatre project ever staged.” “A mad project,” wrote the German weekly DIE ZEIT, adding that “where politics fails, art must step in.” The Belgian newspaper Le Soir, too, had high praise: “Impeccable. Milo Rau is one of the freest and most controversial spirits of our time.” And taz got right to the heart of the matter, stating that “for the first time in history, the question of responsibility for crimes is being posed.” Over one hundred journalists from around the world took part in the tribunals in East Africa and Europe in order to report on the “most megalomaniacal art project of our time” (Radio France Internationale – RFI).
Audiences and critics alike have celebrated Milo Rau’s “Compassion. The History of the Machine Gun”, which has been described as “breathtaking” (NZZ) and “a masterpiece, burning with current relevance” (24 heures). Since its premiere in January 2016 at the Schaubühne am Lehniner Platz in Berlin, the piece has toured the world. Among other distinctions, it was nominated for the Friedrich-Luft-Preis as Berlin’s best play of the season and took second place for “Best Actress” (Ursina Lardi) in the critics’ poll by the magazine Theater Heute.
“Five Easy Pieces”, developed in spring 2016 in collaboration with CAMPO in Ghent, is the first IIPM project involving children and youth. The Belgian television broadcaster RTBF called the piece, which has already toured through much of Europe and as far as Singapore, “truly great theatre – human, sensitive, intelligent, and political,” and “a play to which none of the known standards applies.”