Gorges Ocloo (b. 1988) is an artist who feels at home in many roles and genres: theatre, music theatre, modern dance, performance, community arts, visual art, scenography, compositions for theatre, dance and opera.... Ocloo’s visual language is multidisciplinary and magical. His shows are colourful extravaganzas of images, movement and music, fables with often grim political undertones. For him, Voodoo, the culture of his father, is the ultimate synthesis of playing, performance and acting.
In May 2022, he received the Cultuurprijs Ultima, the Flemish cultural award for emerging talent. "The fearlessness with which Ocloo takes on different disciplines and roles is immensely refreshing. A visit to a show of his never leaves you untouched," wrote the jury.
As a teenager, Ocloo excelled in music, electronics, dancing, history, freerunning, athletics, architecture and beatboxing. His discovery of the street theatre project Yawar in Genk's Nieuw-Sledderlo district was what pushed him in the direction of theatre. After studying at the art secondary school, he went to the Royal Institute for Theatre, Cinema & Sound (RITCS) in Brussels, where he graduated magna cum laude as a theatre director. Immediately afterwards, in 2014, he created his highly acclaimed first production, Scarlet-Anansi-Ocloo. With the story of Medea as his departure point, he explored the link between that mythical primordial mother and genocide, drawing inspiration from Ghanese Anansi stories, Heiner Müller's Medeamaterial and Ben Okri's The Famished Road.
Gorges Ocloo has worked in in various capacities in numerous theatre productions and films. He for instance performed in the grotesque comedy RACE (ARSENAAL, 2019), for which he also wrote the music. In the exuberant dance-theatre production Studio Shehrazade (Kloppend Hert & ARSENAAL, 2018), he and Haider Al Timimi revealed our corset of societal rules with masterly glee, male power and high heels. In Wat is de Wat (HETPALEIS, 2019), he sublimely put himself in the shoes of the young Sudanese refugee Valentino Achak Deng.
Ocloo is a director and, since 2020, also co-artistic director at DE MAAN in Mechelen. There, he creates shows for young audiences, such as the surreal fairy tale ANANSI (2019). Together with Jeroen Theunissen, Ineke Nijssen and Owen Weston, he adapted the stories from the Anansi cycle into a musical tale full of humour and reflection on how society works.
He is also artist in residence at LOD muziektheater, where he has pulled out all the stops in recent years. Moby Dick, at last Queequeg speaks (2021) is a jazzy opera based on a libretto by Ben Okri that mixes Herman Melville's Western classic novel with African tales, animistic rituals and voodoo. In the symbolic drama The Butcher, de engel kwam niet (2021), Ocloo once again shows that he has no truck with moral posturing and political correctness, while holding up a Flemish-nationalist mirror to the audience.
Since 2022, Gorges Ocloo has also been affiliated with at Toneelhuis. In co-production with LOD muziektheater, he is making his first show for the company in 2023: The Golden Stool, or the story of Nana Yaa Asantewaa, a highly rhythmic and dynamic AfrOpera. In it, ten women present the story of Nana Yaa Asantewaa, an old woman who around 1900 led the resistance against the troops of the British Monarchy, and together with the women's brigade she formed, holds out for a year in the battle for the Golden Stool – the throne and pride of the Asante people in Ghana.
Along with Lisaboa Houbrechts, FC Bergman, Benjamin Abel Meirhaeghe and Olympique Dramatique, Gorges Ocloo shares responsibility for the artistic direction of Toneelhuis as of 2022.