SleepWalking Democracy

Directed by John Malpede and Maarten van Hinte

Performances were presented during RIGHTABOUTNOW.NU
from June 27 – July 8 2006,
at the Westergasfabriek in Amsterdam.

About the Project

Four members of LAPD spent a two-month residency in Amsterdam working with company members of ‘Made in da Shade’; a professional theater based in Amsterdam comprised of Dutch people of South and North African ancestry. With directors John Malpede and Maarten van Hinte, LAPD and Made in da Shade created a new performance about drug trafficking in the Netherlands and it’s effects on society.

Inspired by LAPD’s ‘Agents & Assets’ performance, we decided to focus our collaboration on extensive research which was available about Dutch drug trafficking in the IRT affair.

In the late eighties, after a series of drug scandals rocked Holland, special task forces were created to tackle organized crime in Holland, the IRT: Inter Regional Teams. The IRT task forces answered directly to the Attorneys General office. It consisted of Police officers and detectives from different municipal police forces, hence the name ‘Inter Regional’. The IRT consisted of ‘small town’ cops, who were given a mandate to tackle organized crime any way they saw fit. Within three years the task force was disbanded. A series of press leaks had discredited the IRT as being ineffective and possibly corrupt. And infighting by the different attorney’s offices and the Amsterdam and Utrecht police departments led to political outcry in Parliament.

This led to an official major Parliamentary inquiry – the “IRT enquete” by the Van Traa committee – which started in December 1994. At the request of the Dutch national television organization NOS all of the hearings were broadcast live, which was a first for the Netherlands. Informers and people who claimed to be ‘at risk’ because of their testimony were granted protection. Some testified in disguise, wearing wigs and sunglasses, or motorcycle helmets.

The committee presented the results in February 1996. They concluded that there was a lack of guidelines for dealing with organized crime, and a lack of clarity about who is responsible for police and justice policy. They established that drugs had been imported by the IRT, and that the IRT’s methods were both ineffective and dangerous. Two IRT detectives from the Haarlem police force, Van Vondel and Langedoen, not only protected informants, but set up their own drug operation, which had soft drugs imported and sold in Holland under police protections. Informants were allowed to keep the money they earned importing and selling drugs under police protection. The inquiry also clearly brought the political infighting in the justice department to light.

There was talk of direct involvement by the DEA and the German Bundeskriminalambt (BKA), but operatives from both organizations claimed diplomatic immunity. In zeroing in on the two Harlem detectives, the committee overlooked the fact that most police departments used the IRT/informant infiltration method, even after the hearings. Not long after the hearings it became clear that IRT operatives were also involved in large scale cocaine trafficking.

Organized crime was again high on the public agenda in the Netherlands in 2006. The police arrested Willem Holleeder, kingpin of the Dutch criminal underground, in connection with the murder of Willem Endstra, multimillion euro real estate tycoon. Endstra was being extorted by Holleeder, but had secretly gone to the police. The secret tapes of Endstras conversations with the police were being leaked to the press. Dutch newspapers ran a story about some of the same criminologists – who informed the committee in 1996 – assessment of crime in 2006. Their conclusion was that the situation was far more serious today than it was 10 years ago.

About Made in da Shade

SWD_2006_zuiveringshalMade in da Shade makes theater: performances for new times. Why theater? Theater is about now. Live and direct, night after night. Theater is a crossroad. A place where all arts and disciplines can collide. Theater is alive. We conceive, write and create plays, inspired by everything from hiphop to hollywood, from the hard-knock streets to the classical stage. Our projects involve actors, dj’s, artists, musicians, authors, rappers, painters, taggers, computer programmers… and more.

Made in da Shade en Cosmic theater presented their first joint project at RIGHTABOUTNOW.NU with SLEEPWALKING DEMOCRACY, SWD_2006_rightaboutnua co-production of Made in da Shade and Los Angeles Povery Department & CRUX (after Arthur Miller’s The Crucible) produced by Cosmic theater. This event took place at the location where Made in da Shade and Cosmic Theater had plans to build their new theater. The idea for RIGHTABOUTNOW.NU started with the plans for a collaboration between Made in da Shade and Los Angeles Poverty Department (LAPD). The result of the first trajectory of this collaboration was Sleepwalking Democracy. When Made in da Shade announced plans for a collaboration with Cosmic Theater in 2005, they invited their new partner to make a presentation which would link content-wise to Sleepwalking Democracy. This was CRUX, directed by Kasper Kapteijn. Sleepwalking Democracy and CRUX were presented each evening at RIGHTABOUTNOW.NU with additional performances, concerts and debates, which were linked to the themes of both performances. The work in progress of both productions was followed at a special website.

The Cast

SWD_2006 meetgreetConcept & Direction: John Malpede, Maarten van Hinte.
Performers: Nasrdin Dchar, Unorthadox, Tony Parker, Sashae Siatui, Henriëtte Brouwers, Marjorie Boston, Jenny Mijnhijmer, LoveSupreme.
DJ: LoveSupreme,
Artwork: Dr. Jay,
Interaction design: The Blue Noise Department,
Tech.: Fritz Janszen. Joris van Rossem.