The International Institute of Political Murder was founded by director Milo Rau in 2007. Since then, IIPM has become known for “represent[ing] a new form of political art that is highly condensed in documentary and aesthetic terms.” Learn more about the company and its other projects on their website.

Rau began Five Easy Pieces after an invitation to create a work for a Campo series, featuring child actors; past invitees include NYU Skirball alums Tim Etchells (Forced Entertainment) and Gob Squad. Rather than producing a work of children’s theatre as it is traditionally understood, Rau challenges his young actors – and his audiences – with a production that asks children to portray the infamous case of Belgian serial killer Marc Dutroux, whose victims were young girls. “How can children perform the life and actions of child-killer Marc Dutroux?” Learn more about the show.

Rau discusses Five Easy Pieces in this interview with dramaturg Stefan Bläske, contextualizing the premise of the show, which has shocked adult audiences – “isn’t it too gruesome” to ask children to participate in a work about child abuse and murder?:

Our team includes two advisers and also a child psychologist. The parents were also closely involved in the rehearsals. And we contacted those most closely involved in the real Dutroux affair. But, actually, this production isn’t about the horror in itself. It’s about the big issues which lurk behind this very specific and utterly wretched Dutroux affair: the decline of a country, the national paranoia, the mourning, and the anger which followed the crimes. The production begins with Congo’s declaration of independence and ends with the funerals of Dutroux’s victims; in the background you perceive the disappearance of just about all the illusions which you might have lived under as a Belgian in recent decades: the illusion of safety, trust, freedom, and a future.

Learn more in NYU Professor Carol Martin’s Indefinite Articlewritten exclusively for NYU Skirball; and NYU alum Debra Levine’s TDR article.

Office Hours

Get Into It

Five Easy Pieces - Milo Rau / IIPM / CAMPO
The cast of "Five Easy Pieces"

Get Thee to the LIbrary

Recommended readings to accompany the Indefinite Article by Carol Martin.

A. Forsyth and C. Megson, editors, Get Real: Documentary Theatre Past and Present. Oberon Books, 2011.

Carol Martin, Dramaturgy of the Real on the World Stage. Palgrave Macmillan, 2010.

Carol Martin, Theatre of the Real. Palgrave Macmillan, 2012.

Lucy Nevitt, Theatre and Violence. Red Globe Press, 2013.

Timothy Youker, Documentary Vanguards in Modern Theatre. Routledge, 2017.

Read All About It

Mar 22, 2017

Lyn Gardner for the Guardian

“Maybe if I hadn’t trained as a sociologist before I started making theatre I wouldn’t have had the idea,” says Rau… “But when I make a piece of theatre I use the same methodology that a sociologist would use.”

May 15, 2018

Duška Radosavljević for the Theatre Times

It’s not often that a children’s theatre features a piece about a pedophile and child murderer in its repertoire. But on rare occasions when vision, intelligence, and courage align, this kind of programming can change lives.

Dec 15, 2017

Catherine Gerbrands for the Stage

“It’s a play about theatre, about playing theatre, about mimicry, about how to be a character. It’s called Five Easy Pieces because there are five lessons through which the children learn.”

Based on a True Story

Marc Dutroux is a national horror story in Belgium, sometimes referred to as “the Beast of Belgium.” The kids in the cast of Five Easy Pieces were already somewhat familiar with the story before they began the show. Catch up on the details in these murder podcasts – a robust genre – for two different takes on the case.

Nothing Rhymes with Murder: “Belgium: András Pándy & Marc Dutroux”

RedHanded: “Marc Dutroux: The Beast of Belgium”

Extra Credit

The uneasy tension in Five Easy Pieces is not simply that kids are enacting a violent, disturbing history onstage; but also that many kids – Dutroux included – grow up to be adults capable of horrifying violence; many kids of color are never afforded the innocence of childhood; many kids grow up to be adults whose lives are not considered worth saving or mourning.

These two artworks challenge the kinds of protectiveness children are used to invoke. Antwon Rose, an unarmed black teenager who was murdered by Pittsburgh police in June 2018, wrote a prescient poem about his fear of police brutality that makes clear the ways youth of color – young black men in particular – are raised with deep understanding of the dangers of systemic racism. David Wojnarovicz’s Untitled (One Day This Kid…) is a famous challenge to the limits of empathy, using a childhood photo of the artist to stare down spectators at the height of the AIDS crisis (1990-91). Learn more about the work in NYU’s David Wojnarovicz Knowledge Base.

David Wojnarovicz, “Untitled (One Day This Kid…),” 1990-91.

Antwon Rose


I am confused and afraid
I wonder what path I will take
I hear there is only two ways out
I see mother’s bury their sons
I want my mom to never feel that pain
I am confused and afraid

I pretend all is fine
I feel like I am suffocating
I touch nothing so I believe all is fine
I worry that it isn’t though
I cry no more
I am confused and afraid

I understand people believe I am just a statistic
I say to them I am different
I dream of life getting easier
I try my best to make my dream come true
I hope that it does
I am confused and afraid