Ira Kip was born and raised in Amsterdam with roots in the Caribbean. During her theater studies at the Amsterdam School of the Arts, she realized that her ambition and vision stretched beyond the Dutch theater landscape. In search of an artistic conversation spanning across the African diaspora, Ira gained her master’s degree in directing at The New School for Drama in New York City. Ten years later, as a Performing Arts Fund NL Fellow, she returned to the Netherlands to develop and create work that captures her newfound global perspective and socially contribute to LGBTQ culture and community.
In her latest theatre production, “Shrew Her,” Ira and five queer women investigate how the institution of marriage and traditional male/female roles play out in a queer context. The result is an innovative theatrical event in which visual art, classical theater, physicality, rhythmic texts and audience participation become one. Shrew Her premiered at the Compagnietheater Amsterdam.
When did you first realise that theatre can help us explore societal issues in a more complex way?
From the day I started directing theater. I always wanted to explore social issues and my way of expressing is through the theater. I will say that when I started creating work that had a voice rooted in the queer community, I realised the importance of exploring the complex issues within the community.
What are some of the conversations that have come out of the play so far?
Usually, we have a talk backstage after a show. Most of the conversations are focused on the theme of the play. With “Shrew Her” its gender identity, with my previous play it was domestic violence. It’s different every time. Usually, the audience responds with personal stories; they feel like there is a place where they can share, which then makes the theater, not just a space for exploring art, but also a space where one can have a voice and conversation with the artist.