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The Conservatory of Populism by Helena Botto

Photo by Helena Botto


The Conservatory of Populism

! Free Entrance / Limited Availability / Reservation Required !

Link for the Trailer: https://vimeo.com/790144677

In ‘The Conservatory of Populism’ Helena Botto addresses the theatricality of politics and question the way theatrical devices can be deployed to construct reality.

In this humourous performance, she ‘teaches’ the audience – her ‘students’ of populism – how they can use theatrical techniques to deliver efficient populist political speech. Within this frame, Helena enacts (in)famous right-wing populist speeches (e.g. Donald Trump, Jair Bolsonaro, Marine Le Pen, Victor Órban, etc.) while taking a critical stance on them. The audience is called into a, at times hilarious, at times uncomfortably risky experience, where they are asked to interpret if what they are experiencing is a quoted political speech or a fictional one. What is real, and what is made to believe becomes diffused.

Key to her artistic process are over-identification strategies. Helena Botto, a PhD student, a performer and performance-maker, is both a real and a fictional character, who radically identifies in a comical and amplified manner with the very subjects she is criticising. Through the performance, she critiques theatricality in itself (and the processes of theatre-making) and populist theatricality.

The Conservatory of Populism’ is conceived and performed by Helena Botto in collaboration with sound designer Rob Hart, visual artist Sonia Roshal and associate producer Lorenza Peragine. Exhibition videos: Helena Botto and Rob Hart. Lighting design and props construction: Jonathan Wilson. Academic supervision: Joe Kelleher and Simon Bayly. POPBACK project leader: Gerhard Schnyder. It is funded by Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia, Norface, POPBACK and is supported by the University of Roehampton and The Old Operating Theatre.

‘The Conservatory of Populism’ at The Mladinsko Theatre, Ljubljana, November 2022


‘The Conservatory of Populism’ at The Mladinsko Theatre, Ljubljana, November 2022



Helena Botto is a performer, a performance-maker and a PhD candidate at the School of Arts, Roehampton University, in London to which she holds a studentship from Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia. In her practice-as-research thesis she has been exploring the rhetoric and performativity of populist leadership, fictional writing and the thinking of democracy as an ‘improper’, monstrous, dissonant and inclusionary space.http://helenabotto.weebly.com/  https://www.popback.org/wp4-populism-on-stage

Rob Hart is trained in Sound Design at Edinburgh University (Msc with Distinction). His works for theatre include Eclipse (Theatre Royal, Stratford), Rosaura (Women and War Festival), Iyalode of Eti (West Yorkshire Playhouse), The Foley Explosion (The Yard Theatre), Here’s What She Said To Me (Sheffield Crucible) and No Future (Camden People’s Theatre). He regularly performs experimental music and expanded cinema as a solo artist and in the collaborations ‘Swab’ and ‘The Hellfire Project’. His sound design can be heard in the recent video series for the V&A ‘ASMR at the Museum. robhartav.com


Feb 14 2024


6:15 pm

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