Instances of Reciprocal Illumination: Thinking-Making Through the Theater

2023 Johannes Van Tilburg Lecture in Dutch Studies by Maaike Bleeker, Professor of Theater and Performance Studies, Utrecht University

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UCLA Center for European and Russian Studies (CERS) in co-sponsorship with UCLA Department of Theater present the 2023 Van Tilburg Lecture in Dutch Studies Instances of Reciprocal Illumination: Thinking-Making Through the Theater by Maaike Bleeker, Professor of Theater and Performance Studies, Utrecht University. The lecture took place on February 23, 2023 and was made possible by a generous gift in 2005 from Johannes and Jo Anne Van Tilburg to the Dutch Studies Program at UCLA, for the establishment in perpetuity of the annual Johannes Van Tilburg Lecture in Dutch Studies.


In his book Experts, surgeon Roger Kneebone shows how collaborations between experts from radically different fields—for example, surgeons and lacemakers—may bring about what he terms instances of ‘reciprocal illumination’. A shared interest in stitching provides a point of connection that allows these practices to inform one another in unexpected ways. This lecture shows how developments in the performing arts in the Netherlands during the past decades have contributed to a productive ecology for such moments of cross-disciplinary illumination, within the theater and between the theater and other fields. Looking at experimental practices within the theater as well as collaborations between the performing arts and radically different fields, including robotics and science, this lecture shows how the theater sets the stage for new insights to emerge from material and embodied practices of what anthropologist Tim Ingold calls ‘thinking through making’.



Maaike Bleeker is a professor of Theater and Performance Studies at Utrecht University where she also serves as Director of Research of the Institute for Cultural Inquiry (ICON). Her work engages with questions of perception, cognition and agency from an interdisciplinary perspective, with a special interest in embodiment, movement, and technology. She is principal investigator of Acting Like a Robot: Theater as Testbed for the Robot Revolution (funded by the Dutch Organization for Scientific Research NWO, see Performing Robots). Her most recent book Doing Dramaturgy. Thinking Through Practice (2023) has just been published by Palgrave.

Photograph of Maaike Bleeker by João Florêncio.

About the Van Tilburg Lectures

In 2005, Johannes Van Tilburg and his wife, Jo Anne, gave the Dutch Studies Program at UCLA a remarkably generous gift to establish in perpetuity the Johannes Van Tilburg Lecture in Dutch Studies. Mr. Van Tilburg came to the USA from The Netherlands in 1965. In 1971, he became the founding principal of Van Tilburg, Banvard & Soderbergh, AIA and has led this 100 person firm to the forefront of planning and design. His work as a designer is widely recognized throughout the state and indeed the entire country. In 1992, he was honored by his peers and elevated to the level of Fellow of the American Institution of Architects. In 2007, Johannes Van Tilburg was honored by the Netherlands America Foundation of Southern California. He is deeply committed to education and continues to work as an adjunct Professor in the School of Policy, Planning, and Development at USC. Mr. Van Tilburg was appointed Honorary Consul for Southern California on behalf of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, serving from 2010-2014.

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Duration: 1:18:11



Okay. Good evening, everyone, 

and welcome to the 2023 Johannes Van  

Tilburg Lecture in Dutch Studies. My name 

is Laurie Kain Hart and I'm Director of  

the Center for European and Russian Studies and 

professor of anthropology and global studies.  

As is our custom here at UCLA, I begin with 

the recognition that we are here on the unceded  

territory of the Gabrielino/Tongva peoples who are 

the traditional land caretakers of Tovaangar, the  

Los Angeles Basin and South Channel Islands. As 

a land grant institution, we pay our respects to  

Gabrielino/Tongva ancestors, elders and relatives 

and relations past, present and emerging.  

I'm delighted to welcome students and faculty 

members of the Dutch community and friends of  

Dutch Studies in L.A., consular representatives, 

members of the Netherlands America Foundation  

of Southern California, as well as deans and 

the Vice Chancellor from UCLA, and all other  

friends of the Center. It's wonderful to be back 

here in person. Last year we were still on Zoom  

with a wonderful lecture on the history and 

present of the Moroccan-Dutch community with  

professor Nadia Boras from Leiden University. 

And now we're back together for real.  

Sorry for the rain, but I'm glad you made it 

here nonetheless. I want to thank the staff at  

the Center, who are its heart and mind, and who 

put so much energy and expertise into making this  

evening's program happen, Executive Director 

Liana Grancea and Program Director Lenka Unge.  

Thanks also to the staff of the Faculty 

Club for their skilled work and support.  

And I'm especially grateful to Marike Splint, 

associate professor in the Department of Theater  

at UCLA and member of the Center's Faculty Board 

of Directors, for the inspired work of selecting  

our speaker for today's event and putting the idea 

into action. Professor Splint has been and is an  

invaluable advisor to the center. Major thanks 

also to our co-sponsors, the UCLA Department of  

Film and Television Studies, and especially 

to Sean Metzger and Michelle Liu Carriger.  

We at the Center are the fortunate beneficiaries 

of diverse local and international efforts that  

connect Southern California to the Netherlands 

and Belgium. Dutch studies at UCLA is a vibrant  

program engaged with the Low Countries through a 

strong interdisciplinary global academic program.  

The program was initiated in 1999 under 

the direction and inspiration of the now  

Professor Emeritus of History, Margaret Jacob, 

here tonight with us. It expanded to include,  

among other initiatives, the founding of 

the Anton Van Dyck Chair for history and the  

culture of Low Countries, and a faculty-student 

exchange program with the University of Leuven.  

The establishment in 2005 of tonight's Johannes 

Van Tilburg lecture in Dutch Studies has become  

an extraordinary opportunity annually for UCLA to 

connect to the region. We owe this lecture to the  

generosity of Johannes Van Tilburg, architect and 

former Honorary Consul of the Netherlands in L.A.,  

and Jo Anne Van Tilburg, an archeologist and 

Director of the Rock Art Archive at the UCLA  

Cotsen Institute of Archeology. They not 

only support this lecture, but also provide  

support for UCLA students participating in 

the Utrecht and Leuven exchange programs.  

We're grateful for their support, but most of all 

for their leadership and conceptualizing new forms  

of exchange and scholarly cooperation between

UCLA and the Netherlands. So I'd now like  

to welcome Anna Spain Bradley, Vice Chancellor 

for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion and professor  

of international law, for a welcome on behalf of 

UCLA. Thank you, Vice Chancellor, for joining us.  

Good evening, everyone. Good evening.  

Thank you. Thank you so much, Professor Hart. You 

can look around this room and see that it is full.

And on a night where there is even a chance of 

rain for people from Los Angeles to come out, it's  

a significant signal. So I am so pleased to be 

here tonight and to recognize the many colleagues,  

students, friends, special guests, including the 

Van Tilburg family, our dignitaries and honorees  

from a variety of consul generals and consulates 

here in Los Angeles and in San Francisco. And  

just to say that one of the things that makes a 

university and a community thrive, and one of the  

things that we are deeply committed to here 

at UCLA is our values. Our values of inclusive  

excellence in all that we do, in our mission as a 

public land grant university that educates, serves  

and strives to make positive impact, not just 

in Los Angeles, but globally around the world.  

Promoting these values of inclusion and 

dignity are so vital in the world today  

to bond peoples and nations, to promote 

peace and to honor our shared humanity.  

Tonight's 2023 Johannes Van Tilburg Lecture 

in Dutch Studies speaks to that cause. And as  

we listen and learn tonight from our brilliant 

colleague and Van Tilburg lecturer this evening,  

Professor Bleeker, may we keep the shared mission 

close to our hearts. Our experience this evening  

and the important contributions of UCLA in Dutch

Studies program are made possible through the  

generosity of many, including the Van Tilburg 

family. And we thank you. On behalf of UCLA, 

welcome to all. And here's to a spectacular 

evening. Thank you so much. I'd like now to  

welcome interim dean of the Social Sciences and 

professor of urban planning and Chicano studies,  

Abel Valenzuela, along with Assistant Vice 

Provost Alfred Herrera, who's also here with us,  

and Associate Vice Provost Charles Alexander, who 

could not be here, he has been part of a tripartite  

collaborate collaboration among UCLA,

Bloemfontein University in South Africa and  

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam that was established 

in 2014 to promote diversity and equity in higher  

education institutions across the globe. So 

we're really happy to welcome Dean Valenzuela.  

When professor Hart asked me to come and 

give welcoming comments, I was delighted.  

She knows and she mentioned some of my own 

work in Holland with colleagues here at UCLA,  

mostly revolving around EDI efforts,

but also the Free University. And so it's  

a big, big pleasure for me. So on behalf of 

UCLA and the Division of Social Sciences,  

I welcome all of you to the 2023 Johannes Van 

Tilburg Lecture in Dutch Studies. The Division  

of Social Sciences at UCLA is uniquely positioned 

in the diverse global city here of Los Angeles.  

And especially today with the weather, apologies 

for all of the front news that this blizzard warning,  

only the second time, I think, in a hundred 

years, but maybe a short way to make some of us  

feel more at home. But Los Angeles, it resides 

in a diverse global city here, and it comprises  

the social sciences, top-notch academic programs 

and research centers that collect and recreate  

new knowledge and cutting-edge research.

Los Angeles is literally the gateway to the rest  

of the planet, many of us believe. By engaging 

the challenges that we face here in Los Angeles,  

we really do believe that we can help 

change the world for the better. Indeed,  

for the social sciences, we use the motto: Engaging 

Los Angeles, changing the world. So I'd like  

to extend a special welcome to Deputy Consul 

General Vincent Storimans, and apologies  

for mispronunciations, from San Francisco, as well 

as the Honorary Consul Henk Hanselaar from San Diego.  

I'd also like to take this moment to honor the 

work of Jan and Jo Anne Tilburg, whose  

generous gift makes this annual lecture possible. 

And it really does highlight cross-disciplinary  

moments within the field of theater and between 

the theater and, of course, other fields at UCLA.  

To that end, I also thank our special guest and 

speaker, professor Maaike Bleeker from Utrecht  

University for being here today. UCLA, I think, is 

a special place and so is the Netherlands, and of  

course the Dutch people. In my many, many visits to 

the Netherlands, I've always felt welcomed. I've  

been treated generously and with great warmth and 

always full of engagement in the work that I do.  

It is my expectation that tonight's event will be 

a thoughtful and reciprocal way for our campus and  

some of our programs to reengage our connections 

and shared fates in the performing arts. Welcome.  

Thank you so much, Dean Valenzuela. Now,  

please join me in welcoming Mr. Jan Van Tilburg. 

Jo Anne, Bill Becker, Sandra Timmermans,  

Marieka Kline, Willem Kline, the guy 

with the big hair, and Matt Kline.  

Besides our family, all of us are always involved in 

supporting most of the things we do, I'd like to  

make a special mention of two people, Peg 

Jacob, who started this program, I believe,  

all these years. And then sitting next to Peg is  

Wiljan van den Akker, who especially came 

from the Netherlands, from Utrecht University  

to join us here. He was the first speaker in the 

Van Tilburg Lecture. So welcome. Welcome, friends.  

I am looking forward to Maaike's speech. Thank you.  

Finally, before our main event, I would like 

to welcome to the podium Mr. Alexander Swart,  

member of the Netherlands American Foundation, 

SoCal Board of Directors. Mr. Swart.

How wonderful it is to get together with 

all of you at this very special event.  

And on a personal note, I have to mention 

that my son and my twin daughters graduated  

from UCLA. So it's always very nice 

to return to this beautiful campus.  

I'm Alex Swart, I am here representing the 

Southern California branch of the Netherlands  

America Foundation. Our organization, founded in 

the Netherlands and the United States in the areas 

of business, the arts and, of course, education. 

Educational exchange is really exemplified by 

the Johannes Van Tilburg lecture here at UCLA,  

where distinguished scholars from Dutch and 

Belgian universities present highlights of  

their primary research and their original 

thinking at this public-facing event.  

And Jan and Joanne's commitment to 

education is really made tangible  

through their generous support of the Dutch 

studies program here at UCLA. And NAF SoCal  

is merely trying to follow their example 

with this modest contribution. Thank you.  

I thank Mr. Swart, for his generous donation,

and NAF, towards innovation in Dutch studies  

at UCLA. As you all know, times are 

tough in public education these days,  

and it's contributions like these that make 

it possible for us to sustain and innovate

programing. Thank you so much, Mr. Swart 

and the Netherlands American Foundation.  

Now, it is time to turn to the main event of the 

afternoon, our talk. A heads up for the sequence  

of events tonight. We'll have about an hour for 

the talk and 15 minutes or so for a Q&A. Do feel  

free to save your questions and ask them during 

the Q&A. We look forward to audience discussion. 

Then, if I can ask you to stay in your 

seats for a few minutes after this,  

we have a short special event 

before we begin our reception.  

And now I turn the podium over to Sean Metzger, 

Head of Performance Studies and Associate Dean,  

UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television, 

to introduce our speaker Maaike Bleeker,  

professor of theater and performance studies 

at Utrecht University. Welcome, Sean.  

Good evening and thanks everyone for coming out 

tonight. I have the privilege of introducing  

tonight's invited lecturer. Before I do that, 

I just want to acknowledge the importance of  

events highlighting Dutch culture, because, after 

all, the Dutch arguably created the conditions  

for the way we live now. By this I mean the 

first transnational corporation that operated  

as a sovereign entity was, as many of you know, 

the United East India Company founded in 1602.  

Globalization is, in very complicated ways, 

one outcome of Dutch entrepreneurship.  

I just leave it at that. In this vein, the 

maintenance of Dutch-American dialogs is  

critical as we think through the era of advanced 

capitalism that structures our everyday lives.  

In this vein, it is a genuine pleasure to 

welcome professor Maaike Bleeker to UCLA.  

Actually, professor Bleeker's relation to 

UCLA faculty extends back several decades.  

First, she came to work with our own distinguished 

professor of world arts and cultures and dance,  

the fabulous Susan Foster, sitting here, who was then 

teaching at another institution and whose class I  

also happened to be in at the time. Subsequently, 

professor Bleeker attained teaching positions  

in Rotterdam and in Amsterdam, where she met my 

colleague, the ingenious theater director Marike

Splint, who was then undergraduate student. We have 

again Marike to thank for suggesting professor  

Bleeker to the selection committee for this year's 

lecture. You're in for a treat because professor  

Bleeker is one of the most expansive intellectuals 

I have ever had the opportunity to meet.  

Who else can discuss early modern 

anatomy and artificial intelligence,  

dance and but also as human perception 

theater making on stage in a given locale,  

but also theater theatrical performance 

dispersed across vast digital networks?

I thought by way of introduction, I might cite 

professor Bleeker as opposed to listing her  

numerous achievements, which are readily available 

on any search engine, if you care to look.  

So here are some of my favorite quotations. 

In "Anatomy Live: Performance and the Operating  

Theater, Bleeker writes: "When the body was 

opened, it was alien territory into which the  

scientist journeyed. This sense of the body as 

alien to the sensibility that inhabited it, 

provided the material for the construction of 

the natural philosopher as the heroic explorer."  

In our era, this provides the grounds for 

the ways in which we narrate medicine. Just  

think of all the inevitably men's names we use to 

describe diseases. In visuality in the theater, the  

locus of looking, Bleeker writes of the distinct 

historical manifestations of visual experience.  

So here I always think of the bird's eye view 

that we now take for granted, but was only  

possible when we had technologies that could put 

humans, and/or other devices, into the air.  

And my last example is from "Transmission in 

Motion: The Technologizing of Dance."  

Bleeker writes, "A great number of more recent 

technological developments, from finger gestures  

on the iPhone to the physically moving control 

of the Wii, to Microsoft's Gestural  

Games interface Kinect allow for movement to 

become increasingly part of modes of interaction  

between bodies and technologies." Professor Bleeker 

illustrates time and time again how much humans,  

technologies and their relations depend 

on different kinds of performance.  

So if you thought you were just 

getting theater, you were wrong.  

I could go on and on about professor Bleeker's 

intellectual contributions to multiple fields,  

but I only have 5 minutes. So I wanted to 

leave us with one last anecdote. She served as  

president of Performance Studies 

International, the largest organization of its  

kind in the world, for studying performance 

as an object and an analytic study.  

With her help, I succeeded her in that role. But 

really all I did was execute all the things that  

professor Bleeker created. And here are some 

of them. An online lexicon of key terms and  

performance in multiple languages, a new open 

access digital journal, which was at that time  

very novel, by the way, a mentoring program for 

graduate students, engineers, faculty that was  

international in scope called FAB, also known as 

the Future Advisory Board, to a conference called  

Fluid States Performances of Unknowing that 

took place over a dozen locations around the  

world over the course of a year. Professor Bleeker 

has been a steadfast colleague, mentor and friend,  

and I'm sure by the end of this evening, you

will appreciate her keen mind as much as I do.  

Please join me in welcoming 

professor Maaike Bleeker.  

Thank you so much for this lovely introduction.

I feel I can only disappoint after that.  

It's a real pleasure and a great honor to 

be here. And I would like, first of all,  

to thank Mr. and Mrs. Van Tilburg for making 

possible this wonderful lecture series and  

for this amazing opportunity to speak

here. Thank you so much. Also,  

thank you to the board of the Dutch studies 

program for inviting me to share some of my work  

here, and the many people that were involved 

in making all this possible and organizing  

and making it such a pleasure to be here.

A big thanks also to Sean, and to Marike, and  

other colleagues from the Theater and Performance 

Department. It's a real treat to be here with you.  

Now, what I want to share with you are some 

reflections about interdisciplinary collaborations  

between the theater and very different fields 

of expertise, like robotics and astronomy. And  

I will start with a description of several such 

collaborations that I am or have been part of.  

When I tell people about these collaborations, 

I often get the question how does a professor  

of theater ends up collaborating with 

roboticists and astronomers and the like?  

And does that mean that I changed my profession? 

No, I haven't, and I have no intention of doing  

so. But these questions were very helpful in 

making me think about what is happening here.  

And thinking about that makes me realize that for 

me, these collaborations are more generally the  

possibility of this kind of collaborations follows 

organically from the developments in the theater  

that were part of the context in which I grew up 

as a theater professional and a theater scholar.  

Developments that made it possible to conceive of 

making theater as a practice of collaborative and  

embodied thinking through material, a collective 

investigation and figuring out of things.  

And this relationships between developments within 

the theater and collaborations between the theater  

and other fields of expertise is what I want to 

talk about. So I'll start with a description of  

some of these collaborations between theater and 

very different fields, and then move on to a brief  

introduction of developments within the theater 

and some examples that bring these together.  

Just before I left Amsterdam to travel 

to L.A. earlier this week, I spent an  

afternoon with the Research and Development 

Department of the Hotel School in the Hague,  

and we talked about a new project in which 

we will use expertise from the performing  

arts to develop the behavior of robotic 

assistants in the hospitality sector.  

This collaboration is part of a larger project 

that we are currently setting up between theater  

studies at Utrecht University, the Technical Universities

of Delft and Twente, and Social AI at a  

Free University of Amsterdam, a number of theater 

companies and individual theater makers. Together  

with partners from industry and from hospitality, 

education and care, we will be looking for  

new ways of developing behavior of robotic 

assistance and modes of interacting with them.  

Robot developers are facing questions and problems 

that in some ways are remarkably similar to those  

of theater makers. Questions like: How do social 

robots address their human co-performers?  

How do they afford interaction with 

them? What scripts do they follow?  

How do we choreograph their movements 

through space? How to design their appearances?

In dramaturgy with devices, we look at how 

theater and robotics may mutually inform  

each other. How theater can contribute to new 

approaches to design and development of robots,  

and vice versa, how collaborations between theater 

and robotics may inform new creative uses of  

robots and other smart technologies within the 

theater. Now the term dramaturgy is a term from  

the theater and a term that historically referred 

to the structure of plays and performances.  

More recently, this term has come to be used to 

refer to a wide array of tools, terms and insights  

used in creating, analyzing and reflecting 

about performances, and has come to stand for  

a field of expertise of which these tools and 

terms and insights are the expression.  

Dramaturgical expertise plays an important 

role in creating performances, in making  

them work, in setting up relationships with 

audiences, keeping them engaged, and also in  

understanding relationships between performances 

and the context in which they are meaningful.  

The Dramaturgy of Devices project will 

investigate how dramaturgical tools,  

terms and insights may inform a new set 

of tools, terms and insights for devices.  

Now, in this new collaboration that we are 

currently setting up, we build on experience  

from our current project, Acting Like a Robot. 

And this is a project between Theater Studies  

at Utrecht University, and Robotics at the 

Free University of Amsterdam, Puppet and  

Object Theater Company, Urike Quade 

Company and the Utrecht School for the Arts.  

Now, both puppet theater and robotics

work with inanimate performers.

Performers that need to be brought to life and 

invested with some kind of life of their own.  

And in the Acting Like a Robot project, we look 

at how expertise from puppet theater may inform  

the development of creative and innovative 

approaches to development of robot behavior,  

may inform ways of bringing about such sense 

of aliveness. And we also look at how robots  

can be used to take new steps in the development 

of puppet and object theater. So one thing we are  

currently investigating, for example, is how 

to use industrial robot arms as puppeteers.  

Here you see an image of that project, and this 

is an image from a project that we created for  

the big outdoor exhibition Floriade that 

was held last summer in the Netherlands.  

So this is another image that gives an impression 

of the size of this robot puppeteer and  

the puppets that it manages. And also, well, 

this is being constructed, but it's a huge  

thing that can then start to move with this 

puppet, with this robot arms moving it.

Last week, just before my meeting with the Hotel  

School about dramaturgy for devices project,

I was at Museum Boerhaave in Leiden  

to discuss another collaboration with them. The 

Boerhaave Museum is the Dutch National Museum  

for Science and Medicine, and their collection 

includes the important historical instruments and  

artifacts such as the microscopes of Antonie

van Leeuwenhoek, the first pendulum clock  

of Christiaan Huygens and a replica of Leiden 

University's anatomical theater built in 1594.  

The Boerhaave Museum has an amazing collection 

that offers visitors the possibility to get a  

sense of such important scientific inventions and 

discoveries during many centuries of scientific  

work. And I was there to talk to the curator

about certain challenges that the  

museum is facing when it comes to more 

contemporary scientific developments,  

like the discovery of gravitational waves, 

the Higgs particle or biomedical research  

about genes and about viruses, very recently. 

The objects of such research are often quite  

far removed from human experience. Being far too 

big or far too small to be perceived by humans.  

Research requires large-scale and incredibly 

complex technology that operates in ways that are  

often also inaccessible to humans and may involve 

extensive networks of interconnected machines.  

Now, how to include such research 

in the collection of the museum?

How to show it and make it accessible or,

as curator in one of our conversations

put it, how to collect a black hole? Now, of 

course, he's not expecting to include an actual  

black hole in the collection, but rather he's 

facing the question what to collect and how to  

share what with visitors in order to make these 

kind of scientific discoveries accessible as well?

With regard to the history of anatomy, they 

can work with this magnificent model of the  

actual historical anatomy theater to engage

visitors in getting a sense of that moment  

of history and what it entailed. And observing the 

tiny and fragile microscopes of van Leeuwenhoek  

close by, raises a sense of wonder about these 

instruments and how these, for the first time,  

provided access to a microscopic world. But how to 

similarly engage audiences with today's scientific  

instruments and discoveries that

cannot be displayed in a similar manner?

Faced with these questions, Bart contacted me and 

my theater studies group at Utrecht University,

and they asked us to think along with them.  

Theater has a history of expertise with bringing 

about worlds, situations and events that cannot  

be shown in their entirety and in detail. A 

history of expertise with engaging audiences  

in imagining these other worlds, taking them 

along and developing an understanding of what  

they cannot directly perceive. How might this 

expertise inform approaches to curating science?  

One of the reasons that Bart contacted 

me was a previous collaboration  

between theater studies in Utrecht and Antwerp,

and the Historical Observatory in Strasbourg,  

a specialists in the history of science 

from several other European universities,  

and also with the theater artist Eric Joris. And 

the aim of this project was to develop better  

understanding of historical practices 

of sharing knowledge about astronomy,  

and how to share this knowledge with a wide 

audience. How did they do that historically  

in various types of planetariums, by means of 

magic lantern demonstrations, by means of orreries,  

these models of solar systems? So we wanted to 

see how we might use improved understanding of  

such historical practices to develop

together with artists and together with  

experts in contemporary astronomy, a 

And one of our questions therefore was: What 

would a 21st century planetarium be like?  

Now, this is Erik Joris and CREW is the name of 

his company, his theater company. And Erik  

has a lot of expertise with experimenting with 

new technologies and with using the theater as a  

kind of laboratory to explore possibilities. One 

technology he often works with is so-called  

head-mounted displays. And this is an image 

of somebody wearing one. And the other person  

behind is an assistant who assists in using this 

technology. And the image also gives an impression  

of how Erik's ways of working with technology involves 

a lot of tinkering, just using high tech, but in a  

way that is a bit improvizational, like here with 

the laptop on a back, a backpack and this kind  

of connecting things together and making it work. 

So we could say that Erik improvises with high tech.  

And here you see a similar set up, similar 

technological setup. But then as it was part  

of our research project, now it is worn by 

one of the research leaders of this spectacular  

astronomy project. This is Charlotte Bigg and 

she's a historian of science working in Paris.  

And the two others are Erik's assistants. And this 

happens in Erik's studio. So we are in a studio.  

Well, at the same time, Charlotte is somehow 

also in the solar system, or to be more precise,  

in a virtual model of the solar system. And this 

model allows her to discover this logic of the  

planets circling around each other from the

inside, so to say. And by moving through it,  

she can develop a kind of an embodied 

understanding of this logic from being  

inside, from looking around, from moving 

around, instead of being this distant observer.

And the image on the screen, on the back of 

her backpack, and the laptop in her backpack,  

gives a little bit of an impression 

of what she's seeing. But of course,  

she's seeing it like as if she's inside of 

it and not just as an image in front of her.  

Here's another image of this same setup.

But now with a big screen showing what  

the person wearing the head-mounted display is 

also seeing and with this person who is the avatar  

that we can also see on the screen, this person 

has this suit on with motion capture markers so  

that whatever she's doing will translate also into 

the movements of this is avatar. And this was one  

of the ways, in which users of the technology

were kind of guided around in the solar  

system, so to say. This is another image of the set 

up from a bit more of a distance. And here you can  

see again somebody using it, which is actually me, 

and then the avatar moving, a kind of a planet  

there hanging on a string, and an audience. And 

this is also how we, one of the ways in which we  

experimented also with this technology, 

this is a kind of composite image, but  

we had a setup in which we could do lectures 

with an audience and at the same time having  

people one-by-one having this experience of 

the immersive planetarium. And this way also  

they're combining various types of information. 

And since when you were in the installation, you  

can't hear what happens outside, so you won't be 

bothered by the lectures. Well, at the same time,  

the people watching the lectures could also see 

you going through that installation. And that is  

also very typical of Erik's work with immersive 

technologies. It doesn't just want to create a  

kind of a seamless other worlds, but it wants 

you to also observe how that works, how the  

technology works, how the technology evokes worlds 

for you. And therefore, he wants you to combine  

these different perspectives from the inside and 

from the outside. That happens often in his work.  

But it's also very interesting about this 

planetarium that he created with us is that  

it can show the solar system according 

to historical ways of understanding it.  

So actually, we can visit the solar 

system with the Earth at the center  

and the planets moving around to Earth. So in this 

way, the planetarium also helps to understand  

the kind of the historical development of how 

we come to an understanding of outer space and  

draws attention to the relationship between that 

understanding and the kind of technology that was  

available to reach out to outer space and how 

it's actually, the combination of humans and  

technologies that produces ways of understanding, 

that produces knowledge of the universe.  

And this project produced a whole set of outcomes, 

very different outcomes. First, there was the  

collaboration between astronomy and the history 

of science with theater practice and with theater

performance studies, how that contributed 

to new insights in historical practices  

of knowledge transmission in astronomy. So new 

perspective from the theater and from theater and  

performance studies help to better understand 

how these historical practices of science  

communication, one could say, how they worked 

and how they mediated ways of understanding.  

Second, these insights from historical 

and contemporary astronomy in their turn,  

inspired new ways of using technology for this 

of staging and installation art for new ways of 

communicating science, and for explorations of  

new creative and artistic possibilities. Because 

for Erik, this project was the beginning of a  

series of works about the impact of science on 

imagination, and this included several works, in which  

he explored, for example, the relationship between 

Shakespeare's plays and the transition towards the  

modern scientific worldview. So here's one image 

of what he created. It was titled Hands on Hamlet,  

and it is a VR installation with life actors. This 

is another image of this same work, and this is  

a related work titled Hamlet's Playground. That 

was an online performance in which the audience  

actively participated. You see here many

Zoom images actually of audience members.  

Now, a third outcome of the collaborations 

between performance studies, theater practice,  

astronomy and the history of science 

within this spectacular astronomy project  

was that these collaborations led to new insights 

and more research about relations between  

researchers and their instruments in historical 

as well as in contemporary scientific practice  

and research into how knowledge comes about as 

a result of these interactions between humans  

and technologies. Insights that are much in 

line with what philosopher of science Karen  

Barad describes as post-human performativity 

and the ontoepistemological role of instruments.  

So what we can see is that the different partners 

involved in this project, from astronomy,  

from history of science, from theater

performance studies, from theater practice,  

each contributed to this project from 

the perspective of their own expertise,  

and that somehow this project set the stage 

for encounters between these different experts. 

And also that they all benefited from the 

project, but not necessarily in the same way  

Each of them took away outcomes that were relevant 

from the perspective of their own expertise. And  

I consider this an example of what the title of my 

presentation describes as reciprocal illumination.  

And this is a term from Roger Kneebone and his 

work on experts and expertise. Kneebone is a  

professor of surgical education at the Imperial 

College in London, and he's also professor of  

anatomy at the Royal Academy for the Arts. And in 

this book, he develops a theory of what it means  

to be an expert. He looks at experts from very 

different fields, from surgeons to pilots, jazz  

musicians, engravers, many more. And he looks at 

what it is that makes someone an expert. What can  

we learn from experts about what it is to

achieve the level of mastery that they have?  

What can experts learn from one another? And  

also what can they learn from experts in other  

fields than their own? And in this context, he 

introduces this idea of reciprocal illumination.  

This describes a situation in which interactions 

between experts from different fields bring about  

new insights, not because one expert teaches 

the other something they didn't know yet,  

but because the encounter inspires new insights 

and triggers new ways of understanding,  

brings about such new ways of understanding in 

the encounter, and organizing such encounters  

is an important part of Kneebone's research.

Now I find this notion of reciprocal illumination  

most useful for understanding the kind 

of collaborations that I described before  

between theater and astronomy, and the history 

of science, and between theater and robotics.

For these collaborations are not about one expert 

filling in gaps in knowledge of another, like in  

the more common idea of interdisciplinarity 

as a kind of jigsaw puzzle where experts hold  

different parts of the puzzle and bring it all 

together, and then we get a complete picture,  

for such interdisciplinary collaborations 

certainly can be helpful. For example, when  

working on complex problems that require insights 

from different fields. Kneebone's idea of  

reciprocal illumination also points to something 

else, something that is not about adding up the  

pieces of a jigsaw puzzle, but about how encounters 

between experts bring about something new,  

how to bring about new insights and new practices 

that contribute to answering questions and solving  

problems while also enriching the

expertise of those involved. Encounters,  

therefore, are not only relevant for solving 

the puzzle at hand, but also for the expert to  

further develop themselves in their own practice 

and to develop new insights beyond the project.  

Now, being an expert, Kneebone observes, 

informs how one thinks and how one sees things.  

Being an expert is not merely a matter of having 

obtained a particular body of knowledge that can  

then be applied, but being an expert is 

embodied in one's ways of engaging with  

what one encounters. It's embodied in one's 

capacity to move beyond merely applying what  

one already knows. And Kneebone describes this 

as a combination of science, craft and art.  

Science is in the knowledge, in the analytical 

capacities and the eye for precise detail that  

bringing an expert requires. Craft is in 

the skills and the abilities to do things  

with and from this knowledge. And art is in the 

capacity to bring knowledge and skills together  

in ways that are inventive and 

relevant within specific situations.  

Now, the importance of this combination 

of knowledge, skills and creative know-how  

as perspective from where to develop 

new ideas can also be seen in an example  

that we studied in the context of 

our robot and theater research.  

This example is a well-known example. 

It's Boston Dynamics' video, Do You Love Me?  

And the discussion triggered by this video. 

Also the discussion, very importantly.

The video that you may have seen shows several of 

Boston Dynamics signature robots dancing. It was  

heavily criticized from the field of dance for how 

it applies dance movements to robots and how  

it does this to show off the technical prowess 

of the company in a way that is entertaining.  

The result, as Jessica Rajko rightfully observes, 

is not robot dance. It's not even really about  

dance. It's about capitalizing on popular 

depictions of dance and exploiting them to  

sell Boston Dynamics robots to a broad audience 

by means, and here I quote Rajko, "a cliché grab-bag  

of dance moves like the Running Man, The Twist, a bourré here, a développé there, and a few  

other things that make robots look

like they're dancing to entertain you."  

In an interview about the making of this video, 

Aaron Saunders, the Vice President of Engineering  

of Boston Dynamics, confirms that indeed, the 

video was meant as an entertaining advertisement  

for the company. However, when a little later he 

reflects on what a collaboration with the dancers  

and the choreographer brought him,

he appears to have little to do with dance  

and that the robots are made to perform 

with creating a nice video. He explains that  

what actually interests him,

is the dancers' and the choreographers'

embodied understanding of motion. The skills and 

knowledge embodied in dancing and what might we  

learn from the creative expertise 

for new approaches to robot movement.  

Thus the video capitalizes on imposing 

human dance-like movement on robotic bodies.  

To sell the company, what is relevant and 

useful to him as a robot developer, is how  

the expertise from dancers and choreographers 

may bring about new insights in how dance may  

illuminate robot developers. And I don't 

know whether Boston Dynamics CEO Saunders  

was interested in setting up situations,

in which such illumination is reciprocal,  

that is, situations in which collaboration 

is relevant for dance as well. I don't know. 

But that is what we are interested in our

collaborations with roboticist dancers  

and puppeteers in our current project and our 

upcoming Dramaturgy for Devices project.  

Now one thing that I have learned from 

the Acting Like a Robot project, from the  

Spectacular Astronomy project, and from radical 

interdisciplinary collaborations is that making  

such illumination go both ways places specific 

demands on how one collaborates, how collaborative  

processes are organized, how everyone contributes 

to them, and how everyone can take away different  

things from them. And it seems to me that part of 

the expertise that theater has to offer and  

that makes theater such an interesting 

ecology for this kind of interdisciplinary  

collaborations is precisely about that. About how 

to organize collaborative development processes,  

about how to organize them in such a way that 

illumination can happen and go both ways.  

Making theater almost always involves 

bringing together a diversity of experts  

for joint explorations of materials, for practices 

of making, to which all contribute from their  

respective expertise. Yet theater is also an 

example of how this does not necessarily result in  

a situation of illumination for all. Conventional 

approaches to Western dramatic theater, for  

example, are organized in ways that do not

leave much space for such illumination. As to   

contributions of a wide diversity of experts in 

for example acting, movement, design, sound and  

others serve to support what is supposedly already 

given in the play or in the vision of the director.  

So these are top-down creative processes with 

little space for inspiration and co-creation.  

Yet such traditional modes of staging plays are  

not the only model for creation 

and collaboration in the theater.  

And in this respect, the history and development 

of Dutch theater is interesting for how it has  

supported the development of alternative 

approaches to collaboration and collective  

co-creation, that have made it the most interesting 

ecology for the kind of radical interdisciplinary  

collaborations with partners from outside the 

theater that I started my presentation with.  

And in this context, Kneebone's idea of reciprocal 

illumination offers a useful perspective on the  

modes of creating of these makers, and what they 

aim to achieve with their modes of working.  

Therefore, I want to have a brief look at several 

aspects of the history of Dutch theater and the  

modes of working that developed in this context to 

show how these not only resulted in new kinds of  

performances, but also important understanding of 

making theater. New modes of understanding making  

theater, new modes of collaborative thinking 

through and with materials in the theater.  

Now, a striking characteristic of the 

history and tradition of Dutch theater  

is that there's actually not much of a tradition.  

For example, Dutch theater lacks a tradition 

of important national playwrights. There are  

some historical playwrights that are generally 

acknowledged as important, like 17th century  

Joost van den Vondel, or 20th century Herman Heijermans. 

Yet their role in theater history and their role  

in contemporary theater and contemporary theater 

culture is nothing like that of Shakespeare,  

Racine, Molière, Schiller, Lessing or Ibsen in 

theater traditions in other countries around  

the Netherlands. I mean, years can go by without 

any play by Vondel or Heijermans to be staged.  

Dutch theater culture not only lacks a 

strong presence of canonical Dutch authors,  

there is also much less emphasis on plays per se,

plays and their authors, and traditions around  

them. Much less than in some other countries 

around us. At the same time there is, and  

certainly has been during the past decades, 

a strong focus on experiment and innovation. 

And what came first, let's focus on tradition 

or more focus on innovation, is hard to say.

But one thing that can be observed is that the 

experiment and innovation side of things got  

a major impulse from the early seventies on, 

starting with what has come to be known as the  

so-called tomato action in 1969. And

the cultural policy that followed in the wake  

of this action. Actually, [. . .] refers to a 

series events that started with tomatoes being  

thrown at the staging of The Tempest by a major 

Dutch theater company in 1969. And since then,  

actually, tomatoes come to stand for a much 

wider generational revolt in Dutch theater,  

much in line with the rebellious Zeitgeist 

of the late 1960s, and in the early seventies.

The tomatoes thrown at The Tempest 

might not have had much effect  

had there not also been a forward-thinking 

Minister of Culture who, kind of acknowledging  

the arguments and pleas of the protesters, 

laid the foundations for a system of state  

support for the arts as a system of state support 

that privileged innovation over tradition.  

The Netherlands is, of course, not the only 

country with the state system for support for  

the arts, but what is quite specific about how 

this system operated during the past decades,  

is precisely this. It privileged experiment 

and innovation over heritage and tradition.  

Now, this lack of a strong focus on heritage and 

tradition, that defined Dutch theater already for  

much longer, in combination with this policy 

system stimulate innovation and experiment  

made the Netherlands an excellent breeding ground 

for developments that also have affected theater  

in other countries, but particularly strong in 

the Netherlands. Namely, that what theater scholar  

Hans-Thies Lehmann has described as the development 

from dramatic to post-traumatic theater.  

And he uses this term to describe developments in 

which plays are no longer at the center of theater  

culture, but that there is the development of a 

much wider array of ways of creating performances  

that do not start from plays, but other kinds of 

materials that are radically interdisciplinary  

very often. That bringing dance, visual arts 

and music, new ways of telling stories,  

new ways of using text, if texts at all, 

and really processional creative processes.  

Interesting in this context are observations 

by Flemish dramaturg Marianne van Kerkhoven.  

Marianna van Kerkhoven was prominently present in 

the Dutch and Flemish theater context of the 1980s  

and 90s and early 2000 until she passed away 

in 2013. And she was a resident dramaturg in a  

very central experimental theater in Brussels,

where she worked with the likes of  

[. . .] And she witnessed  

these makers from close by and contributed to 

their work. But she was also a prolific author and  

editor in chief of the Theaterschrift series, a series 

of publications in four languages published by a  

network of five European avantgarde theaters. 

And this issue, this shows one of the issues  

the one on dramaturgy. And actually 

these publications are now collector's items.  

They made a really radical impact by then on 

the theater scene. And in the introduction  

to this particular issue, she observes that there 

is a lot of really new types of theater being  

produced in the countries that they're writing 

about, that move away from dramatic theater,  

and that this all causes also kind of move 

away or disappearance of a standard model for  

making theater. So she observes a relationship 

between these types of performances and the way  

they are created and how the disappearance of 

particular type of performances also means   

new approaches to making, and how this opens up 

new ways of collaborating in and with the theater.  

And she observes, importantly, that these 

approaches are often process-based or  

process-oriented, as she calls it, and how 

in such approaches, theater is no longer,  

first of all, a representation of a play or 

of a fictional or real reality, but that 

the form and content somehow come about in 

the making of, in the creative process. And that  

during the making, structures are figured out, 

stories are developing, concepts come about.  

And how all these processes do not so much work 

towards an already projected outcome, but that  

there are kind of experimentations, 

explorations, investigations. And what the  

performance will be, whatever it will be like, 

will take shape during these experimentations.  

And also the result is often not like a 

very clearly structured, not necessarily  

very clearly structured thing, but something 

that triggers experiences that require active  

involvement of audiences and triggers them to thinking 

and reflecting about what they are encountering.  

Now, for a publication that more 

recently came out, actually very recently,  

I talked to a great number of theater makers now 

active in the Dutch context as well as outside  

the Netherlands. And I talked about their creative 

processes. And it was quite striking that although  

there are many differences between their works 

and between their ways of working, the general  

characteristics identified by Marianne van Kerkhoven 

in the early 1990s come back time and again.  

They understand their work in terms of process and 

research. They see creation as a way of thinking  

through matter and thinking through practices, and 

it's something they do together with others and as  

a way to actively engage the audiences. 

Now, one maker I talked to is Dries Verhoeven. 

And we talked about his work Phobiarama. 

Dries Verhoeven started making theater in  

the early 2000s. He's now a prominent 

presence in Dutch theater culture  

and starting point for his works are usually 

situations that set the stage for audiences  

to see and experience things. And from there 

ideas develop about what might happen in that  

situation. So that's quite the opposite from 

first having a play and then design what is  

situation will look like. So he starts from the 

opposite side and starts from that situation.  

In the case of his creation of Phobiarama, the 

situation that provided the starting point was the  

haunted house, and the idea of the haunted house, 

and to use that to engage with cultures of fear.  

How politicians and others capitalize on fear. So 

to use the haunted house as a model for inciting  

fear, but also to trigger reflection about the 

operations of, mechanisms of inciting fear.  

And to do so, he started from actually 

building a haunted house-like construction.  

His aim was not to copy an actual 

haunted house, but to use 

its logic, and to start working

from that logic and see what  

could be done with that. And this is what 

his haunted house looked like. So this is

a temporary construction

that can be placed in a  

park, or a square, or somewhere else in public 

space. And this is an image from the inside.  

So you can see that he left out the spiderwebs, 

and the skulls, and the other decorations that  

are usually part of such haunted houses. And 

instead he created this clean environment  

because he wanted to work with projection, 

not so much literal projections on the walls,  

but fear as a matter of projection. How fear 

results from how we project things on the  

world and on people, and how these projections are 

triggered. So he wanted to start with a kind of an  

empty space. But what he did take from the haunted 

house was the structure, in which the audience  

drives around in these little cars. And the setup 

of the haunted house is constructed in such a way  

that you quickly lost your sense of direction. The 

car circulates the same trajectory time and again,  

yet it is impossible to get an overview of 

the totality of the space. Cars follow a  

kind of a winding path, and sometimes views open 

to other spaces that you cannot access, in other  

places, pillars block the view to other 

spaces. Sometimes you can see the car in front,  

but at other moments you can't. And like it is 

the case with these haunted houses,  

visitors have no control over speed or direction, 

let alone what happens around them. So entering  

means handling over control and being driven 

around for 45 minutes until one exits again.  

Now, the title Phobiarama may serve as an 

indication of how this haunted house approaches  

fears as phobia, as anxiety disorders that are not 

justified by or in proportion to actual threats.  

Phobiarama is about making experiential how 

ways of looking are haunted by politics of fear.  

And one way in which this is happening is 

by means of a soundscape, of political speeches  

in which threats and fear are recurring 

motif. At some point the lights go down,  

shadows appear, and things seem to 

appear from the shadows. So first,  

this big bear, reminiscence of 

childhood fears and childhood tales.  

And over time the soundscape intensifies and the 

bears turn into these creepy clowns. And whereas  

the bears are slow, these clowns are fast. They 

suddenly appear and disappear. And a little later,  

then the performers start taking off the 

clown mask and costumes to reveal a big man.  

Big, muscled man. And they get to 

their ways in sweatpants and sneakers,  

many of them with tattoos, some of them wearing 

necklaces and heavy watches, impressive men  

that look like they could be bouncers in 

nightclubs, free fighters or criminals.  

So this final transformation brings the question 

of the politics of fear closer to the life world  

of the spectators. These men are not fictional 

characters, but real people that are part of  

the real world. We don't know them. We don't 

know anything about them. Yet, how we see them  

is far from being candid and uninhibited. What 

do we actually see? Where do our predictions  

begin? This is what the performance confronts 

us with. The performance ends with a poetic  

moment of release. Lights go off. In the 

dark, one of the men sings a song. And even  

if one does not understand the words, the 

melody and the sound of his voice bring a  

sense of calmness and serenity. After the song 

has ended, they open the doors in the outer wall  

and daylight and sounds from the world outside come 

in and the audience can move back to reality.  

Phobiarama does not tell the story, but 

it takes the audience along experiences  

to confront, to trigger thoughts that invite 

reflection. Creating this performance was about  

figuring out how to make this happen, and it was 

not a matter of a pre-written plan, but involved  

a lot of experimentation, a lot of figuring 

out while doing, and interaction with materials.  

Such process-oriented ways of making fun, 

van Kerkhoven observes, are based on the conviction  

that the world and life do not offer up their 

meaning just like that. Perhaps they do not have  

meaning, and we have to make meaning. And in this 

context, making theater can no longer be a matter  

of bringing out the structure of the world as 

it already is in a play, but becomes a quest for  

professional or possible arrangements that can 

question and reflect on the world. And making theater  

is arranging these materials into compositions. 

Creating compositions becomes an act of making  

sense, of investigating the world, of the subject 

that the performance is about, of the materials one  

works with, and of the ideas and intuitions 

that drive creation. Creation becomes research.  

A recent example of how in such 

creation the research becomes the work  

is my second example of contemporary theater. 

And that is Julian Hetzel's There Will Be Light.  

Hetzel was born in Germany and received 

his training as theater maker from the  

Amsterdam program DasArts. And his work 

There Will be Light was described by the  

makers as a project about the precarious 

economy of hope. Dries Verhoeven was  

dealing with cultures of fear, Hetzel 

shifts attention to economies of hope.

And working out how to address this topic, 

the makers came up with a rather radical idea.  

Namely, to organize a contest in which participants 

compete for a year-long basic income of  

in which the winner really took away the basic  

year income. It was an open competition 

that started with a call for participants.  

Participants were invited for an 

interview in a kind of a glass box.

And it's this kind of glass where you can look 

into the box, but you can't look out. And they  

were interviewed there. An image of a gallery 

spaces with audiences around, and performers also.  

The woman sitting against the 

pillars is one of the performers.  

And after ten full days of interviewing, ten 

participants, one from each day of interviewing,  

were selected for the finale that consisted partly

of a prepared performative element, and partly  

of a real, live on the spot competition. A bit 

like a game show, again in that box, predominantly.  

But this creation was not merely a game. It was 

also an investigation about value, about values,  

about what and whose values count when deciding 

about the future, about what to invest in,  

about who gets a chance. It was an exploration 

of alternative ways of making such decisions,   

because here it was not CEOs or policy makers 

making the decision about what to invest in, but  

homeless people. The interviewers in the jury of 

the finale consisted of homeless people who, from  

their perspective and expertise, made a decision 

about who deserved the basic income and why.  

Furthermore, the project was an investigation 

of what receiving such an income does.  

The winners, there have been three rounds 

so far, report on what it did to them. They  

give their feedback, what the project 

does and what can be learned from it.  

And the project includes their expertise and 

that of the jury members into the project  

and acknowledges them as valuable experts 

with regard to what the research is about.  

Furthermore, preparing this project also involved 

many other experts. Experts in law, and finances,  

in alternative economies, and in administration.

Experts that brought in the necessary practical  

information about what is legally possible 

about risks and possibilities, as well as  

about reflection, about broader historical and 

theoretical and philosophical perspectives on what  

was going on. They all contributed from

their respective or specific expertise,  

and they also gained from the project. That's also 

what we got back from them. For them contributing  

to the project brought new insights and new 

perspectives on their own field of expertise  

from a very different perspective than they 

were used to. So what we see here again is  

this illumination that goes both ways and

for which the theater sets the stage.  

The theater sets the stage for these 

encounters between radically different experts,  

and the encounter produces insights and continues 

to produce these insights, as the reflections of  

the former winners keep coming in, and future 

iterations of the project are being prepared.  

So this is a radical and in many ways 

very sensitive project that requires a lot of  

very careful preparations, a lot of very careful 

thinking through in collaboration with many  

people. It's also a very exciting project for how 

it experiments with new ways of producing insights  

about important questions. And also to how it 

raises the question how to capture these insights,  

how to make them available and accessible

beyond the project. In a project like this,  

the performance is no longer the sole outcome, 

and perhaps not even the most important one.  

And this is also the case in my final example.  

And this is the work of another theater maker, 

who uses the stage for bringing about illumination.  

Illumination for many people involved 

and making this even more the core of  

her practice. This is Lotte van den Berg in 

her ongoing project Building Conversation.  

In this project, she uses the theater to engage 

groups of people in dialog about specific  

topics. And she has developed a whole set of 

creative strategies to engage people in dialog.  

And through these dialogs, participants develop 

insights about the topic of the conversation. 

They bring in their respective expertise and 

gain from the encounter with the insights  

of others. So it's not about coming to a shared 

conclusion, but about this mutual illumination.  

And this project is now entering its 11th year. 

A book has just been published about the first  

ten years. It's a highly successful project. So Dries

Verhoeven, Julian Hetzel, and Lotte van den Berg  

are only three examples of a very diverse field of 

makers. But I hope that these three have given you  

a first impression of how these developments 

in Dutch theater during the past decades have  

resulted in radically new forms that are quite far 

removed from representations of fictional worlds.  

And also how these developments have opened the 

possibility for understanding theater as a context  

of research, and context of experimentation, a 

context of exchange of expertise, a context for  

crossing over with other fields of expertise. Now 

to conclude, I want to go back to the beginning.  

First to this image with which I started. 

So this is actually also an image from a  

performance by Julian Hetzel. This is 

his work All Inclusive, and I'm really  

happy to have this image on the cover of my 

new book that just appeared with Palgrave.  

And this book reports on these interviews that I 

was mentioning before, the interviews with makers.  

And it traces their creative processes. It 

shows how, in the practice these makers, making  

has to be understood as thinking with and through 

materials, and thinking through and with practices.  

And as I pointed out at the beginning 

of this lecture, it seems to me that the  

developments within the theater have opened up 

the possibilities for these organic crossings over

between research within the theater, and 

research between the theater and other fields. 

In such crossing over, like for example, the 

projects that I mentioned between theater and  

robotics, and between theater and astronomy, 

it seems that the value of expertise from  

the theater is relevant in two different ways. 

Or maybe we could say at two different levels.  

On the one hand, very specific expertise about, 

for example, movement, animation or design that  

can contribute to developing new insights in 

other fields, like how in our robot project,  

the expertise of dancers and choreographers and 

puppeteers proved to be most relevant for robotics  

before developing the behavior of robots. On 

the other hand, there is the expertise with  

regard to creative process, with making space 

for collective thinking through materials,  

with setting the stage for illumination that 

is mutual and goes both ways. And this is a  

different kind of expertise that is embodied 

in particular practices of collaboration and of  

co-creation in the theater. This expertise, 

I think, is most relevant for a much more  

fundamental rethinking of development processes 

in other fields, like for example, robotics.  

And this will be one of the big challenges in 

our new project Dramaturgy for Devices.  

We're not there yet, but I hope to be able to tell 

you about that in a couple of years. And for now,  

I would like to end by showing a couple of 

images from the robot theater collaboration that  

I started with. This is what happened last 

Friday. We're currently working with three big  

robotic arms, the kind that are usually

used in industrial settings, for example  

in car factories. And what we are experimenting 

with is using the three of them together to

create the impression of one entity. So

what we want to work with is not actually  

constructing one body with them, but having 

them move and behave in ways that suggests  

that they are parts of one body, as a result 

of how they move relative to one another,  

how the movements relate to one another. And for 

this we work together with puppeteers and with  

visual artists. And doing so is on the one

hand a very interesting artistic challenge,  

but it appears to be also a challenge 

that is very interesting for robotics.

And for a very different reason. The company 

that creates these robotic arms, Kuka,  

is very much interested in what we are doing 

and how we are going to solve this challenge,  

because this possibility of this way of behaving 

and programing them is not part of how these  

robots were designed. Making these robots move 

together and to coordinate their movements  

together is a very complicated technological 

challenge, and that is why they want to know  

how we are going to solve this. A second aspect 

that's very interesting to them is that we try  

to design the movement of these robots in a way 

that is quite different from how they developed,  

how they imagined that these robots 

would be used and how they would be made to move.  

And this actually brings in the second level 

of expertise from theater and how this might  

be relevant for other fields. Because what we are 

trying to change is the process of developing and  

programing movements and to develop that towards 

a more open process, an open-ended process.  

In the usual way of making robots move, and to make 

these Kuka arms move, is to program poses. So  

you choose a series of poses and then the robot 

calculates how it gets from one to the next.  

So movement is actually derived from a 

succession of static poses and what we  

try to do is more or less the opposite. 

We want poses to emerge from movement. 

It now sounds very simple, to

turn this around, but actually this is  

technologically very complicated, but therefore 

also very relevant and interesting to Kuka.  

So hopefully this exploratory project,

you can see some more movements,  

hopefully this will again result in 

this kind of illuminations that work in  

both directions, both for creating an artistic 

expression, that also will actually tour next year,  

and on the other hand that it will bring in these 

insights for robotics that are very important for  

our collaboration with Kuka Design

and Factory. We're not there yet,  

but this is where we are now and this is 

also where I will end here now. Thank you.

Duration: 1:18:11