Silke Huysmans graduated from the drama department at Kask School of Arts in Ghent in 2013. Hannes Dereere finished theatre studies at the University of Ghent in 2012. They took their first steps as an artistic duo during the final years of their studies. In their first collaborations they developed a mutual interest in using documentary elements for theatre.
In the autumn of 2015 a huge mining disaster took place a few kilometres away from Silke’s childhood home in the South of Brazil. Silke and Hannes decided to do a research about the aftermath of the disaster which led to their first theatre performance ‘Mining Stories’. Using field-recordings of conversations from their research, the piece brings together multiple perspectives on the consequences of the disaster in a theatrical essay.
‘Mining Stories’ premièred in 2016 at the Bâtard Festival in the Beursschouwburg in Brussels and continued to travel along many theatre festivals in Europe, visiting over fourteen different countries. The piece received critical acclaim and was awarded the main jury prize at Zürcher Theaterspektakel 2018 in Switzerland stating that “Huysmans and Dereere rely on an impressive yet simple staging with an honest, ethical statement with regards to eco-political topics and issues.”
The duo maintained their thematic focus on mining as they began working on ‘Pleasant Island’, their second performance for the theatre stage. The piece zooms in on the impact of large scale mining in a finite environment. For this, Silke and Hannes travelled to the Pacific island of Nauru which has been entirely stripped of its natural resources. Through testimonies and intimate recordings, the duo tries to unravel the effects of exhaustive mining.
‘Pleasant Island’ premiered in 2019 at Kunstenfestivaldesarts in Brussels, and is currently touring in Europe and abroad. The work of Silke and Hannes is supported by arts centre Campo in Ghent. The duo also works together with Kunstenwerkplaats Pianofabriek in Brussels, the city where they currently live and work.