The Involved Stage is a performance group based in Leiden, The Netherlands. It began as an educational project for university students in 2015 and became a professional group in 2016. Our shows give expression to matters of social concern through body work and live music with a minimum use of spoken words. The creative process combines methods from the social sciences and artistic practices from theater, dance, music and sound art. The Involved Stage engages in artistic creation, education and research.
Our journey begins in 2015 at Webster University Leiden, where I started teaching ‘Art & Social Engagement’ based on the concept of The Involved Stage. The emphasis of the course was on the active participation of the students in the creation of performance art. To help the process, a team of advisers was recruited to support key areas of the production chain, including artistic direction, community liaison, executive production and media communications. The course gave us a chance to explore the meaning of social engagement through the arts and its political dimension beyond propaganda. Although filled with satisfaction, some of us wanted more and better, so we decided to raise the stakes. The Involved Stage became a professional art group in Winter 2016, with the mission of addressing social issues by artistic means.
How we accomplish this mission is our defining trait. Our interest in social engagement remains at the heart of our practice. However, our productions start from individual concerns, the collective element of which is explored through the creative process. To that end, we organize focus groups about such concerns, whereby we can relate to them through the narratives of others. We analyse and debate these conversations in terms of our own relation to those people's ideas and opinions. This is not to get a grip on the community they are meant to represent but to learn about ourselves as social beings. After all, we enter the stage as members of the same community. It is in our capacity of individuals in togetherness that we create our shows, but neither to voice the preoccupations of others nor to indulge ourselves in cryptic intimations. We cannot favor one side or the other, that is, because both are extremes of a single spectrum of expression. Their difference is not of kind but of degree.
We are not social workers nor do we offer social services. We do not mirror the angst of the community, but we are not blind to it either. We work with collective issues which we harvest from our individual backyards. We are aware of our potential for social engagement, but remain attentive to the individual nuances of every collective situation. We do not remove people from the responsibility to give meaning to their own experiences. We do not involve the audience in our personal ideology nor do we promote theirs. We become involved with ideas and events which gather us together to agree or disagree. We produce critical interventions based on the performing arts, whereby everybody can ponder and act upon collective matters from a place of contemplative freedom.
Carlos M. Roos, director of The Involved Stage.
THE INVOLVED STAGE is an artistic initiative of:
Status: OPC registered with the Chamber of Commerce.
VAT: NL-461086918- B01