Love at First Sight #4

As autumn’s dazzling amber hues begin to take on a dramatic radiance, the heart of Antwerp bursts into a bloom of boundless creativity and wonder. We fell head over heels for the seven-day September ode to imagination that is Love at First Sight. Presenting confrontational work by young theatre makers, the festival creates a poetic reflection on our troubled contemporary times. Love at First Sight is brought to us by a temporary alliance of cultural connoisseurs Arenberg, De Studio, Kultuurfaktorij Monty, d e t h e a t e r m a k e r, Troubleyn, Zuidpool and Toneelhuis, with Kavka, deSingel and Rataplan joining the partnership this year. With many delights to discover, we’ve selected four intriguing artists who are bringing exciting premieres to this year’s magnificent feast of imagination.

Interviews & text by Silvija Daniunaite

Anouk Friedli

Photo by Elies Van Renterghem

Art is just as important as other government-funded professions; without us there is no oxygen

Theatre director Anouk Friedli graduated from Ritcs School of Arts in 2016, then earned a master’s degree in writing. As a theatre director, Friedli is drawn to the beauty of hidden human desires, which she explores in the context of a continuous struggle between humanity and the rigid ideologies that have weaved our socio-cultural fabric over the years. She believes that the mission of theatre is ‘to hold up a mirror to society and to tell a subjective truth, which shouldn’t necessarily be understood, but rather felt.’ Friedli’s latest piece, Alex Moons, is both an ode to imagination and a critique of the restraining power of hierarchical systems in contemporary society. In Friedli’s enchanting musical odyssey, we witness a shift in the traditional hierarchy of power, where visionary mushroom growers and erotic activists now hold the upper hand to illustrate the force of emancipatory counterculttural sounds. Following her urge to speak out against hierarchical patriarchy, Friedli presents us with an alternative to our male-dominated hierarchical system. For one night, imagination reigns free and reality as we know it takes on a completely new, subversive form. 


Jaouad Alloul

Photo by Tiny Geeroms

The only truth I don’t follow is not allowing other human beings to be themselves

Multidisciplinary performer Jaouad Alloul started his creative journey as a drag queen, diving into the world of acting and singing soon thereafter. His personal experiences have always been the driving force behind his work. Torn between his Islamic background and his budding sexuality, he stepped away from his family and religion in search of himself and his place in this world. Out of his personal experiences grew a belief in God rather than religion, which he says numbs the expression of our sexuality and gender. Alloul believes that ‘everyone is its own unique godly person’, created in resemblance of the all-accepting God. To break taboos around oftentimes oppressed societal narratives, Alloul fosters a dialogue around themes of sexuality, gender, identity and self-acceptance. He works towards nurturing our emotional intelligence to prevent the collapse of our collective values as human beings. His premiere, De Meisje, is a poetic reflection on Alloul’s life, which speaks of family, forgiveness, love and hope. ‘If you give yourself the freedom to explore your identity instead of forming one according to how society wants it to be, you create a sense of happiness that comes from within.’ November also sees the release of his EP #messias, a collaboration with producer Aiko Devriendt.


Mira Bryssinck

Photo by Pauline Colleu

The strangest thing about loneliness is that you can be lonely even if you are with a lot of people

Theatre maker/actress Mira Bryssinck is fascinated with the absurd. She was always drawn to ‘la condition humaine’, the existential dilemma of simultaneously wanting and not wanting to be, and contradictions fuel her creative work, allowing her to poetically reflect on important societal issues in a joint moment of contemplation with the audience. On her quest to better understand the human existence, Bryssinck delves beyond the façade to bring forth emotions and experiences that we oftentimes (un)intentionally wish to escape. Made in collaboration with dramaturg Daan Borloo, Glory Box is ‘an image of a constant struggle with loneliness’, an intimate meditation on the effects that isolation can have on a person. For Bryssinck, loneliness is an overwhelming feeling ‘that disconnects you from where you are and from whom you’re with’. In Glory Box, we see a woman gradually losing her sense of reality without ever knowing whether she’s trapped in the surrounding darkness of a building or within the inescapable labyrinth of her own mind and body. Yet humor also shines through her work. On her quest ‘to express the inexpressible’, Bryssinck communicates emotionally-intense moments of life in which we always recognise ourselves.



Photo by Tatjana Henderieckx

In times when no one has an opinion, you really need to have one and dare speak it out

For Love at First Sight, Montignards#3 is comprised of theatre director Jonathan van der Horst, assistant Rani Decock, and actors Tim Bogaerts, Lien Thys and Marie Pien. In their piece The Last Tall Man, the voices of three distinct characters coalesce into a joint social commentary trying to comprehend the complexities of the contemporary world. Hiding behind his intellect, an old white man feels his world slipping away as he enters into  a boxing match with a relentless interviewer, who seeks to counter white male privilege through her sharp interrogations. Floating above is an angelic being, the consciousness of the world, holding the key to thousands of years of history and knowledge, which she uses to give a sense of distance and context to the raging battle on stage.

Marie: For me, being an artist means to have an opportunity to share my thoughts and feelings on stage in ways other than the daily ones.

Tim: To keep actively searching for answers in life, even if you can’t always find them.

Jonathan: About changing and bringing new perspectives.

Lien: The moment of mutual connection and exchange of feeling between the audience and the performers.

#LAFS4 : Toverberg, 20 Sept – Troubleyn, Antwerp
#LAFS4 : The Last Tall Man, 28 Sept – Monty, Antwerp
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