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Q&A with Stefan Kaegi of Rimini Protokoll, creator of REMOTE X

Editor’s note: The X in Remote X stands for the name of the city, as the show has been tailored to the city the performance is in.

What was the initial inspiration for Remote X?
Stefan Kaegi: I love cities as stages. It’s so much more immediate to stand still and think of a public space as a theatre than to copy this place in workshops to turn them into stage-designs. And I wanted to create a project that travels with very few props and can be flexible to adapt into new places and contexts easily. And I worked with blind people for a while and was inspired by the voice-programs they use to work on computers. It seemed these were voices of familiar friends, even though they didn’t have a physical body.

How did the making of the work evolve?
Stefan Kaegi: Working on Remote X from the beginning on was mostly location scouting and then spending as much time as possible in these places to be able to predict how they would behave. GPS-programs and other apps try to constantly predict our needs, our feelings and match them with solutions. We try to do this and in the same moment question this entire mechanism of prediction.

What do you look for in a new city to help find the heart of the show?
Stefan Kaegi: The voice of Remote X simulates an artificial intelligence that tries to understand human beings from an external point of view. So I am interested in places where the humans come to their limits: cemeteries, hospitals, rooftops. But I will be also looking into places where crowds gather. I am very much looking forward to the underground tunnel system of Houston, as this seems to be a very useful architecture that enhances the sci-fi-side of the project.

How do the performance dynamics of the work interest you artistically?
Stefan Kaegi: I like to put spectators and their experiences in the center. Already Walther Gropius was dreaming in his Bauhaus sketches of a kind of theatre that could entirely surround you, physically move you around. So I didn’t want the audience to be sitting down in the dark and admire some others that are the virtuous performers. I want the audience to be exposed to the unforeseen of the city in combination with the multiple layers of our text and the soundscapes. Audiences have described the experience as very cinematographic

What has been the most satisfying aspect about creating Remote X?
Stefan Kaegi: As much as it is made as a immersive experience, I also enjoy watching it from outside as a kind of art in public space that appears and disappears within minutes. Little gestures of 50 people sharing a secret turn the city in an exciting place where unpredictable things can happen . . .