Rimini Protokoll is the label for the works of artists Helgard Haug (female, German, born 1969), Stefan Kaegi (Swiss, b. 1972) and Daniel Wetzel (German, b. 1969) in various team constellations (related to theatre, live art, radio plays and installation), often mentioned as inventors of a new wave of documentary theatre. They met during their Applied Theatre Science & Performance Studies at the Giessen University, Germany. This team of authors, directors and designers of sound, stage and videos of their performances works in this constellation since 1999 and created the label in 2002. It is not named after the so-called Rimini Protocol of 2003. However, "Protokoll" (protocol) is a programmatic term marking reports and (their own) protocols to be their sources of inspiration and stage text, rather than drama.
They have been invited twice to Berliner Theatertreffen, Germany's most important festival featuring the 10 best performances of Austria, Switzerland and Germany. Since 2003 their projects rather take place in the framework of big national theatres like Vienna's Burgtheater or Schauspielhaus in Zurich. However, they are often announced as the inventors of a new form of documentary theatre, exploring a theatre of performers who are not professional actors but experts or specialists out of their particular spheres of life—professionals of a theatre of the real world. So, instead of presenting actors performing characters as parts of drama texts they present people whom they find through elaborate research and casting procedures and with whom they develop theatre performances according o their abilities and skills to convincingly and strongly present themselves in front of a national theatre crowd used to watch the perfect fake instead of the unperfect but real. "Rimini Protokoll brings real life to the stage", states German newspaper Frankfurter Rundschau, "in a way that no other theatre form has been able to. The unmistakable strength of these performances lies above all in the fact that in spite of the proximity to the persons whom they portray a rift appears between the role and the personality, and with it an awareness of the risk, that life could gain the upper hand, and theatre could lose control over itself."
"Call Cutta", one of their recent works, was based on outsourcing: The performers or 'experts', who were employees of a call center, were located in Salt Lake, Calcutta, India, providing the audience in Berlin, Germany with individual cell phone performances, with each call center agent guiding just one spectator solely through the remote maze of lanes of Kreuzberg, Berlin, narrating the story of Subhas Chandra Bose, an Indian revolutionarist freedom fighter.
Recently Rimini Protkoll took the risk to cross their method of research based theatre with experts who generate their own lines in contrast to drama based theatre with great texts - as Friedrich Schiller's Wallenstein trilogy (2005), and Karl Marx' Das Kapital, Vol.1. (2006, rewarded with the national German drama award Mülheimer Dramatikerpreis 2007). Among others, the three have created Shooting Bourbaki (Haug/Kaegi/Wetzel), which won the NRW-Impulse Prize in 2003 (the same year the "Theater" magazine yearbook called them the most promising young directors of the year); Deadline (Haug/Kaegi/Wetzel), presented in the Berlin Theatre Encounters in 2004; Schwarzenbergplatz (Haug/Kaegi/Wetzel), nominated in Austria for the Nestroy Prize for Theatre, and Wallenstein (Haug/Wetzel), performed in the Theatre Encounters in 2006. Their extremely topical pièce, Mnemopark (Kaegi), won the Jury Prize at the Politik im freien Theater (Politics in Free Theatre) Festival, while Karl Marx: Das Kapital. Erster Band (Haug / Wetzel) won the Mülheimer Dramatiker Prize in 2007. In November 2007, Haug, Kaegi and Wetzel were awarded the German DER FAUST prize for theatre and in April 2008 they gained the European Theatre Prize in Thessaloniki in the cateory New Realities. "Call Cutta in a box" won a Honorary Mention by the Prix Ars Electronica 09 (International Competition for Cyber Arts) in the category Interactive Art. 2011 they were awarded the Silver Lion of the 41st biennale of venice, established to honour new theatrical realities.