We became misty eyed when we first experienced the five-day, late-summer feast of the imagination that is Love at First Sight. Presenting works by (new) artists in venues across the heart of Antwerp, and put together by a temporary alliance of cultural connoisseurs Arenberg, De Studio, d e t h e a t e r m a k e r, Monty, Troubleyn / Jan Fabre, Zuidpool and Toneelhuis, for this edition Het Bos and deSingel join the partnership. We’ve selected five intriguing artists and companies but there are many more delights to be discovered. What are you waiting for?
Text by Ana Laborie & Herlinde Raeman
Photos shot by Tiny Geeroms
If this work is a response to a damaged, fragile earth, I’d rather respond with something soft than something heavy
HANNAH DE MEYER
Hannah De Meyer graduated in 2015 from the Maastricht Theater Academy. Inspired by the work of a generation of activist writers working on decolonisation, sci-fi feminism and ecology, De Meyer is in the process of creating an answer to this, a show called new skin. She claims: ‘Theatre as we know it is not that common around the world – getting together to watch something, without the fear of being bombed or being arrested for something you say or do on stage. Many places in the world are not safe enough to do that. That makes me want do something kind and light-hearted rather than dramatic. Something like walking in nature, a landscape with trees and stars, and a sky.’
I admire everyone who has made a painting/theatre show/movie/song and showed it to someone else
Vroom began her career when her ballet teacher asked her to move like a butterfly. She hasn’t looked back since. In the future, she imagines herself with perfectly grey hair and red pumps, but also as an artist who is developing herself by improving her method of creation and learning while constantly evolving. The biggest challenge as an artist, she says, is to find a balance between your passion, an existential connection to your work, and maintaining a healthy distance from it. ‘As an artist you are vulnerable, you put yourself out there, your mistakes are visible for everyone. On the other hand I’m grateful to be able to share my thoughts and feelings on this world with others.’ Vroom is currently working on her new show, Langzaam gleed een berg het dal in, the poetical and absurd search by an old woman for her place in this world.
The most complex [thing] is the work itself. How should we “act”?
Simon De Winne, Hans Mortelmans and Timeau De Keyser founded Tibaldus while studying at KASK/School of arts in Ghent and they’ve been working together since they were 19. Being an actor brings a lot of responsibility, they say. It’s your voice. Your body. Who are you going to lend it to? What will you tell? What will you leave out? An actor is never neutral. He plays a fundamental game with reality, and in that game you always take a stance. Currently Tibaldus are working on Gombrowicz’s second play: The Marriage. It’s a production with a large cast that forces them to act in a way that makes their own position as actors problematic. In that way they engage in a struggle with the medium of theatre and the idea of ‘representation’ connected with it. But at the same time, when they are actually performing, they abandon this form of complex drama and try to be as open, non-dogmatic and crazy as possible. Child’s play.
I remember […] realising how sad it is that I can only live one life. So I started playing all the lives I could never live
THE HOTSHOP / MONTY
The Hotshop/Monty is the juvenile wing of De Warme Winkel, the anti-authoritarian actors’ collective based in Amsterdam. During Love At First Sight, it’s represented by Sara Lâm, Lauranne Paulissen, Verbona Verbakel, Jonas De Vuyst and Lukas De Wolf.
Lâm: ‘What does it mean to be an actor? I once read this sentence: “I love how we light fires, which the rest of the world wants to see burn.”’
Paulissen responds: ‘We’re working together with four other actors from the Royal Conservatoire of Antwerp and Ward Weemhoff (from The Hotshop) on an opera by Richard Wagner, more precisely der Ring des Nibelungen.’
Verbakel: ‘The future = I want to keep working with talented, outspoken people. I also see myself working on more international movie sets and working abroad… Being an actor means to be vulnerable, vital, sensitive and disciplined. A lot of people forget that you need to train the whole year round to keep up the work of a physical performance months in advance. Also mentally you need to know how to recharge your batteries on a daily basis.’
De Wolf: ‘If you asked me to describe my work in one sentence, I’d say it’s about telling stories.’
De Vuyst: ‘Showing the human being.’
Well, you might have become a good historian but whatever, let’s do something you never did before, let’s take the leap of faith.
De Erfgenamen is Evgenia Brendes, Jonas De Vuyst and Simon Lemmens. The threesome got to know each other during their studies at the Royal Conservatory of Antwerp. Their name reveals a desire to deal with heritage in theatre.
Simon tells us the most complex aspect of being an actor is to keep resilience and to stick to your guns. ‘Resilience against the expectations, against the blinding success of colleagues but alo against yourself. Private emotions are also professional tools, that might cause confusion. Being an actor means giving birth to a noble imagination. And for that it is necessary to save your sensitivity in a rough world.’
Love at First Sight
19-23 Sep – Various locations, Antwerp
The Hotshop/Monty ‘Wagner: De Halve Ring’ – 20 Sep – Monty, Antwerp
Hannah De Meyer ‘new skin’ – 22 Sep – Troubleyn, Antwerp
both performances are free for Subbacultcha members