Sign of the Times 4 – The Struggle for Identity

World-famous director Ivo van Hove presents a unique theatre performance on the most important socio-political issue in today’s society: identity. With a lecture from political scientist Mark Lilla.

Sat, 02 Jun • 20:30
Stadsschouwburg - Grote Zaal


Were you not able to attend Sign of the  Times 4 or would you like to rewatch the programme? Click here for the recording.

It’s the most important socio-political topic in European society: identity. It’s almost impossible not to take sides. Are you European, Western, French, female, migrant, black, queer? Identity questions traditional views on culture and history. Identity dominates political as well as online debates, and often stars as a central theme in popular films, expositions and performances. Where does this rise in identity politics come from? When does identity function as an emancipatory idea that brings people together in a joint struggle for equality? And how does identity increase the gap between different groups in society?

Renowned theatre director Ivo van Hove looks for answers in the rich past of culture and history. As part of the Forum on European Culture, he will direct a ‘collage performance’ that travels through the repertoire of theatre, literature and philosophy to address the difficult but important identity discussions of today. From the rise of nationalism in Europe to the #MeToo discussion, from Shakespeare to Bertolt Brecht. Can we imagine a society where identity (nationality, race, class, gender) no longer matters or is this an idea we should not strive for? The cast will be joined by Minister of Culture, Education and Science: Ingrid van Engelshoven and Dutch rapper Lange Frans.

The American political scientist Mark Lilla, author of The Once and Future Liberal: After Identity Politics (2017) will give a speech, interacting with the performance. 10 days after the U.S. elections in 2016, Lilla wrote a sharp essay, criticizing the identity politics that, according to him, had caused the victory of Trump. With his critique Lilla sparked furious reactions, both from the political left and right. For Sign of the Times Lilla will focus on the European context. What is the impact of identity politics on European society and how does he imagine future liberalism?

Ivo van Hove is the director of Toneelgroep Amsterdam, Netherlands’ most celebrated theatre company that plays their performances all over the world. For the first edition of the Forum in June 2016, Van Hove directed a one-off performance about the idea ‘Europe’. This year we will continue our collaboration with the programme series Sign of the Times. This performance will be the finale of the programme series on identity.

Mark Lilla is an American political scientist and journalist. He works as a professor of humanities at Columbia University and frequently writes for the New York Times. With his criticism on identity politics after the U.S. Presidential Elections in 2016, he he entered the public debate.

Ingrid van Engelshoven is the current Dutch Minister of Culture, Education and Science.

Lange Frans is a Dutch rapper and TV presenter.

This programme is a collaboration between Toneelgroep Amsterdam, De Balie and De Stadsschouwburg

Thanks to/credits

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