Wijk Safari

Wijk safari

“Neighbourhood Safari” A Thin Line between Theater and Reality” By Adelheid Roosen


Artistic Innovation:
Site­ specific and participatory theater, Adoption methodology — where theater performers and residents adopt each other’s roles.
Created in response to a growing prejudice of working­class neighborhoods, oftentimes populated by ethnic minorities.
Adelheid’s adoption method — ensures that there is a sustainable and structural thinking about new forms of public approach. Over the course of two weeks the residents of a particular neighborhood host an artist in their home and together they create a scene, based on their experience of living together and sharing stories with each other. The scene will be re­enacted during the Safari. When the audience is guided into the homes of these individuals, there is an intimate space for storytelling.
Neighborhood, residents and general public
Direct Impact:
The adoption method ensures that the representations/roles are made in absolute co­-creation with the residents of the neighborhoods’ themselves, in which the project takes place.
Wider Impact:
The project has been successfully implemented in neighborhoods across the Netherlands and abroad in Tepito, Mexico City. It has caught the attention of Mexico City’s Secretary of Culture, the Embassy of the Netherlands and the Creative Europe Programme of the European Union among other cultural, governmental, and media organizations. It’s WijkSafari Bijlmer was nominated for the Code Culturele Diversiteitsprijs in 2015.

The Story

Adelheid Roosen, the Dutch theater­maker, drama teacher, actress and writer, invites audience members to jump on the back of scooters for a wild ride on a “Neighborhood Safari.” The first Safari took place in 2012 in the Amsterdam Muslim neighborhood of Slotermeer, and has since travelled to various other Dutch neighborhoods as well as Mexico City (2014). It is an adventure where audiences are guided through the experience by residents and actors/actresses, exploring a particular place in an intensely intimate way, from an “insider’s” perspective. The boundaries between play, theater and reality become increasingly blurred, as visitors travel through the space. The preparation begins months ahead of time, when Adelheid and her team conduct research and hold meetings with the residents and local organizations. A handful of residents “adopt” Adelheid and her team, who then spend two weeks living in their homes. Based on this experience, where the artists and residents live together, exchange stories, personal experiences, share meals together etc., the residents and performers develop a close bond and create a scene to be performed for the public. The involvement of local residents is integral to each of these performances, as the tour consists of the audience actually visiting the residents’ in their homes as well as other theatrical elements set up in the neighborhood. The encounters which transpire through this participatory form of theatre, encourage a fresh perspective of these often stigmatized neighborhoods and their occupants; in a sense re­claiming the word or at the very least challenging what it means to be a “tourist.”


Copyright Citizen Artist Incubator 2016