het Theater Festival

Power Talks with Evelyne Coussens

di 05 sep 2017


How can we make our cultural field more diverse? This question triggered a lot of organizations to take action. As a reaction, Greentrack Gent, Sectie Mofo, Sociaal Fonds voor de Podium­kunsten, rekto:verso, De Centrale and Minderhedenforum sat together to form Duo Dates, an initiative that will take place this week at the TheaterFestival. Evelyne Coussens, the driving force of the project, gave us an insight.

Nina Vurdelja en Lieselore Remans

The origins of this project go back to a double date – even blind date if you like – Evelyne had with Giovanni Baudonck. There they first talked about the issue. ‘As an actor, and so inside the cultural field, he had the impression that young makers often tend to stick to their first ideas concerning the content of their work. Once they have a concept in mind, they surround themselves with people who confirm that idea. By doing that they sometimes lack other references to the project.’

The concept of Powertalks is to set up 5 young creators with 5 professional coaches. They have each a different cultural background. Every creator is set up with one of the coaches.
This duo will be regularly changed during the project so that each artist will have five different talks, five different point of views, five confrontations about the idea they have in mind. By this, the young creator will get an intellectually richer view. Tonight the opening of the carroussel, as Evelyne like to call it, will take place. The coaches did some detailed preparations and will take all that material with them. Evelyne emphasizes the importance of the project. ‘Powertalks is not about pitching, finding money or logistics. Our main goal is to expand their thinking.’

Though the original question particularly concerned the lack of diversity, Evelyne and Giovanni had troubles with that paradoxical situation. ‘In this story of diversity, we developed a project where diversity isn’t the main topic. In searching for artists and professional coaches, we simply wanted the best. We selected them because of their qualities, not because of their diverse backgrounds.’

The call for applicants was widely spread, in multiple languages to appeal artists from all over the world. It didn’t matter if they came from renowned institutions or from less traditional places. The only concern was their personal experience, an ideal candidate was an emerging artist who had already left school and had participated in other projects.

So far there is no plan to continue with the format, for now it will have a first try-out at the TheaterFestival. Looking forward to a second edition, Evelyne highly recommends to attract bigger organizations. ‘With the start of this project, we were confronted with the same problems young makers have nowadays: no money. We absolutely can not ask the coaches for their professional advice and participation without being able to pay them.’

Dramaturges involved:


Ellen Stynen (het KIP & Toneelhuis)

Mokhallad Rasem (Toneelhuis)

Bart Capelle (Lucinda Ra)

Mike van Alfen

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