Places of birth matter!
Social environments and periods are crucial. This is where the cards are dealt. As we grow older, we slowly retrace our steps. Like turtles with a back full of self-luggage. Between these two moments, we try to become wiser!
In 2020 – at the time of the covid 19 lockdown – I wrote down my childhood memories of the Limburg mining region. Publishing them is one of the projects waiting in my drawer.
Bio’s and CVs are usually written to obtain a job or an income. They are therefore not always characterised by ‘full’ truth or completeness. I consider my life as one big try-out in a web full of encounters and experiences with others. I am approaching my sixtieth year, although it does not feel like it. Who knows, maybe the reader will discover the red thread in all this which I still fail to see.
THE COMPLEX STUDY YEARS
I had a very committed, instructive high school period, full of hope for a brave new world in the soldier's village of Leopoldsburg. In that period I was very active in all kinds of activities that were not really on the curriculum, such as writing for a school paper. At that time, I actually found in these sidekicks the core motivation to go to school. I am very grateful to some progressive teachers who opened up horizons beyond the vade mecum of school curricula.
I tried Germanic philology at the K.U. Leuven. It was a failure that left me uncertain for a long time. So, the wandering, travelling and detours could begin.
In the mid-80s I graduated as a social worker (with an internship in the Christian trade union) at the H.I.S.S. in Geel. A dark time in which I did read a lot. Discovery of the holy Dymphna.
Geel is known as a unique place in psychiatry. Euh ... that's how it felt!
I returned to the K.U. Leuven and received special permission for the Dramaturgy section, where I graduated in 1987 (with a satisfying distinction). During the practical part of the course, I took my first steps on stage with Paul Peyskens, a Jan Decorte epigone, and Guy Cassiers, who has made a name for himself in the theatre world.
I combined this study at the alma mater with taking Spanish lessons and following courses that interested me as a free student (literature, film, anthropology, ...).
In the evenings, there were shows, books, films and cafes. I also did my first dance courses in those years, and one of them was an introductory course to tai chi. These were the years that contemporary dance really got a foothold in Belgium, for example in Leuven during the Klapstuk festival. For me, it was the search for a physical counterpart to far too much theory.
To finance the whole thing, I did all kinds of student jobs. In this way, I got to know many different people, often students of foreign origin from all corners of the world. They helped me to break out of my provincial cocoon.
Because I refused to do my military service in the Belgian army, I did an alternative military or civilian service with multiple visually impaired adults. At that time, the government tried to punish or at least discourage conscientious objectors like me by limiting their freedom of choice and stretching alternative service for as long as possible. I chose this institute, not so much because of the target group but more because of its remote location somewhere in the unspoilt fields of the Belgian grapevine region near Tervuren. It was an extraordinary experience that left deep marks on me. Somewhere in my diaries I wrote at the time: 'I discover forms of intelligence that I did not even suspect before'.
This period lasted for eighteen months. Then I moved to Brussels for the first time. There, I took theatre classes for two years at De Kleine Academie, a private school that trains actors using a physical approach. Luc Desmet, who founded the school, is a follower of the famous French theatre pedagogue Jacques Lecoq. For me, this training was above all a good education in the use of French, a language that - unjustly - had never really attracted me.
At the time, I lived above a brothel in the red light district close to the station Bruxelles-Nord, actually in the shadow of the old Théâtre National that has since been demolished. My landlords were Brussels Turks who thought that I was an outcast. They used to spoil me with hot meals that I would eat with them, sitting on the floor at a low round table, pricking the food out of large communal plates. Their daughter regularly served me small cups of tea. One day, they proudly took me to their mosque. There, for the first time, I witnessed an Islamic prayer service at the end of Ramadan.
Theatre lessons continued in the afternoon. Ten nights a month, I worked as a night watchman in the institute for the blind to earn a living. In the following years, I would regularly accept temporary jobs there as an educator.
For a long time, I thought I was an actor and a good one. In hindsight, that turned out not to be quite true.
First theatre cycle 'pur et dur'
My first theatrical experiment, for which I was recruited, was a Shakespeare play in French: 'Antoine et Cléopâtre'.
I never ever felt so cold in a rehearsal room! All the actors were from De Kleine Academie. They were all people who thought you should rehearse in sweatpants and bare feet like we used to do it at school. It was a mega-flop that ended with a depressed director and a bickering crew of actors who realised there was no chance of a premiere after six months of suffering cold misery!
The next experimental project had a female director: Magda Ral, a real Brusseles. Someone with a tough life experience, also in the field of theatre. We worked on a very visual-physical performance inspired by the painting 'De Dulle Griet' by Pieter Breughel. The piece premiered in the hold of a barge on the Brussels canal, right next to the current Kaaitheater. Next to it. Not in.
The skipper of this barge was an artistic jack-of-all-trades from Brussels, whom I have always admired for his free spirit: Guy De Simpele.
The name of Magda's theatre group was 'Compagnie Petaar'. At that time, every artistic individual in Brussels seemed to have his own company!
All the texts used in 'Cirqonstances' were improvised. They were pretty expressionistic. Very beautiful live electronic music was played by Hugo Ral, Magda's brother.
‘Alles aan hem was mooi… (zei ze)’ (1993-1994)
(‘Everything about him was beautiful... (she said))'
was a performance directed by actress/butoh dancer Pé Vermeersch. It was again a hardcore experimental performance with a lot of movement, based on the novel 'The Sleeping Beauty' by the Japanese writer Yasunari Kawabata. This creation contained nods to the Kama Sutra. Beauty rituals, picked up from anthropological literature, were given a theatrical makeover.
This performance was staged in the experimental 'hanging' space’ 'Plateau' in Ixelles, which was run at the time by the Brussels dancer Ida De Vos and the visual artist Trudo Engels. Actress/Japanologist Gretl Van Ourti was also involved in this experiment by 'Vlinderboom en Stinkzwamexperimenten', Pé Vermeersch's company.
The Last Supper
In this period, we also did a one-off performance at Brussels’ Beursschouwburg (old form!) with English texts by the Antwerp publisher-millionaire Walter Beckers. His piece was called 'The Last Supper'. All the actor-characters were ghost apostles, twelve in total. Beckers had written the play as a conversation between the figures in a sculpture installation by his friend, the Antwerp-Polish artist Albert Zsukalski, who became famous with plaster casts of ghosts. The most famous collection can be found in Death Valley in America.
Salomée Pom Pom Pom (1995)
Was directed by Peter Van Damme, who at the time had gained some credit and fame in Flanders as a theatre innovator. His La Comédie Crapule was welcomed as a newcomer with the play 'Mac Beth Tralala'. For the first time, there was the luxury of a co-producer, the Antwerp Kultuurfaktorij Monty. This second production was not very successful but it did get a modest tour. I was on stage alongside Hanneke Paauwe, the musician Jef Mercelis and Bernard Zils, a German-Brussels actor whom I knew from De Kleine Academie.
I met Vital Schraenen during an internship at the Théâtre du Soleil in Paris, directed by theatre legend Ariane Mnouchkine. At that time Vital was an ambitious young theatre technician who was doing his civil service at the Internationale Nieuwe Scène in the Zuiderpershuis in Antwerp. For ten days in Paris, after the inspiring internship sessions, we dreamed up our own theatre. I eventually co-founded the theatre company Tirasila with him in 1994, after an internship in South India where we got acquainted with a range of South Indian theatre forms.
The name 'Tirasila' refers to a stage cloth that is omnipresent in all these highly ritualistic theatre forms in which song/music/dance/text flow into one another.
is a stage work by the Brussels playwright Michel De Ghelderode, translated and adapted by Vital Schraenen. The Ghelderode called it a farce. In this production I played one of the main characters, the king. For the choir I initiated a movement sequence that I copied from the South Indian martial art 'kalaripayat'. The premiere took place in the magnificent Zuiderpershuis in Antwerp. Live percussion and bruitage conducted by Philip De Jager.
Cast: Ben Weeber, Pé Vermeersch, Patrice Debry with in the choir: Indirah Osumba, Jacky Sawatsky, Leen Antheunis, Ellen Van den Brande, Dominique Pollet, Peter Maschke. All actors wore beautiful costumes designed by Marie Vandewoude. The set was designed by Vital Schraenen.
Somewhere in between was an experiment called 'Quad', an intriguing 'walking choreography' in a square, written by none other than Samuel Beckett! It was performed in the then pre-eminent performance lab: Plateau. Performers were: Peter Maschke, Yurgen Schoora, Gianfranco Poddighe and myself.
‘Ubu Koning’ (1997)
by Alfred Jarry in a translation and adaptation by Vital Schraenen. I performed with the actors Pé Vermeersch and Ben Weeber. This performance explored the limits of physical violence on a stage. The audience was seated around an 'arena-like' play area filled with wood shavings, in which the actors raged across. Great live music again by Philip De Jager on marimba. In this performance, I found out by trial and error that white spirit can also burn without holding a flame to it. And that being hung up by one foot from a rope for a long time can lead to back problems in the long run. This production was touring quite regularly.
In 1998, Tirasila went to my birthplace, the Limburg mining region, for a year to create a performance that was a tribute to almost a century of hard labour underground. With a large group of amateur actors and musicians, we created a site-specific theatre performance based on personal stories and improvisations. The performance was produced by the local Kolenspoorfestival. It took place in the monumental mine site of the coal mine of Beringen. The piece was entitled K-Bel of de ballade van een spookmijn’ ('K-Bel or the ballad of a haunted mine'), a loose reference to a work by Fernando Arrabal, a Spanish author in exile under Franco's dictatorship.
The musical coaching of this project was done by Luc Mishalle and Véronique Delmelle (currently MET-X).
This performance was truly a 'back to the roots' experience. I would regularly return to that region in the years to come. Particularly enriching was also the numerous presence of former miners and their families who visited the buildings for the first time in a 'non-working' context. My father, together with other former colleagues, brought the audience to the performance venue. In this way, theatre eventually found a beginning of acceptance within my family.
Spoken bij de Dode Man (1998)
(‘Ghosts at the Dead Man’)
was a theatre monologue, an anthology from the work of the then recently deceased author Heiner Müller, directed by Peter Van Damme. The performance premiered at Netwerk Aalst. It was followed by a limited tour. As an actor with little textual experience, I had to deal with these finely carved texts, which are extremely difficult to phrase. I studied them during long walks in the parks of Brussels with my daughter of barely a few months tied to my back.
Second theatre cycle "Mûr et dur".
Onkel Vania (2001)
An Uncle Vanya version by the British playwright Howard Barker, under the flag of Toneelgroep Leporello with guest-director Vital Schraenen. The extensive cast included Belgian theatre and film veteran François Beuckelaers.
In the press, Howard Barker had his theatre characterised with the term 'theatre of catastrophe'. I remember from this theatre version, which was as petty as any of Anton Chekhov's works, that I crushed a guitar under my heel for every performance. Something I would no longer lend myself to that easily. So much for catastrophic theatre! Great memory: a performance in De Brakke Grond, Flemish theatre base on Dutch soil in Amsterdam.
KRSK! (2002) was a music theatre performance that we created with as inspiration the forever sunken Russian nuclear submarine Kursk (2000) in which all 118 crew members lost their lives. Directed by Vital Schraenen.
In a cold metallic environment the musical compositions by Chris Carlier and beautiful lyrics by Elvis Peeters, interpreted by the singer Helga van Campenhout made a very beautiful counterpoint.
Co-actors/musicians: Chris Carlier, Patrick Geeraerts, Koen Monserez, Gordon Wilson, Koen Van Roy.
Most memorable performance: on location at freezing temperatures in the army barracks of Houthalen-Helchteren! The hottest performance, on the other hand, took place during the Ostend festival Theater aan Zee. But that was due to a heat wave.
Around that time, 'tManneHart, a theatrical male choir, was born, again under the impetus and direction of Vital Schraenen. This choir was a sidekick of Tirasila. A unanimous 'boysband' of tough looking men with a soft heart that could be called upon for the most diverse occasions such as season openers, New Year's receptions, festivals ... in the most varied locations and circumstances. 'tManneHart consisted of a group of actors and musicians who excelled in poetic, absurd-comic acts. I was responsible for a sword dance act, again indebted to the martial art 'kalaripayat' which I have been practising since 1993. All the music was originally composed and came from talents like Hans Wellens, Jan Van Outryve, Chris Carlier.
In 2016, I did my last stage act in a Tirasila performance titled 'Global issues in a globalized world' at a Jean Monnet conference in the lap of the European Commission.
THE MARTIAL ARTIST
During a workshop on South Indian theatre arts (1993), I got to know the South Indian martial art 'kalaripayattu'.
This body art has a tradition of thousands of years and has left its traces in most South Indian (dance) theatre genres.
What attracted me to it at that time was the underlying movement language inspired by animals and then the extremely dance-like choreographed fights. Later, I also started to specialise in the accompanying weapon fights.
Together with Indirah Osumba, I founded a Belgian/European branch of the school in Kerala where we had our teachers: Vallabhata Kalari Sangham.
I followed this path for almost twenty years: travelling back and forth to India, organising workshops with our Indian teachers in Belgium and Europe, giving initiations and animations all over the country.
Because we were often asked to give demonstrations, I gradually developed a formula adapted to the laws and expectations of the stage: the so-called 'weapon concerts'. Here, we usually included at least one percussionist. Regularly we got other musicians involved as well.
These 'weapon concerts' also had a 'fiery counterpart', namely choreographies with cane sticks and chains to which fire was attached.
At the time, a number of dance academies regularly invited me for initiations or training sessions: Ultima Vez, Wim Vandekeybus' dance company, for example, or Danscompagnie Francine De Veylder, or the HID (Hoger Instituut voor de Dans, then based in Lier, where dance authority Katie Verstockt also had more than a foot in the door).
Best memory: a weapon concert at the ABC theatre in Prague with percussionist Geert Van Impe, permanent musician at the HID.
With Tirasila already we regularly organised workshops in various disciplines. We always aimed for dancers/actors/performers who were looking for non-western methods/expertise to further develop their body language. The necessary experts were always brought in for this. At the time, it was our intention to offer a counterbalance to the so-called 'talking head' theatre that was very ‘en vogue’ and supreme in the arts sector.
More specific offers were: the South Indian dance theatre kathakali and kalaripayat.
We also organised several Biomechanics workshops in the tradition of Meyerhold, the great 'opponent' of 'talking head' Stanislavski. For this, we invited the Russian specialist Gennady Bogdanov. You will understand that the fall of the wall had made things easier in this respect ...
In 2004-2005, I worked for a year as a dramaturge for a festival on mining heritage in Limburg, the Kolenspoorfestival, second edition.
This festival had already had its first edition during the period in which we had created 'K-Bel or the ballad of a haunted mine', actually the main creation of that festival.
Although this second edition ended in a complete fiasco due to the mismanagement and indecisiveness of the organising non-profit organisation combined with a clearly perceptible boycott of the Limburg cultural sector, some seeds were sown for my future work.
Very strong memory: the commemoration of the Zwartberg miners revolt of 1966 with several deadly victims due to the government decision of the closing down of this local coal mine. I directed this ceremony in the peculiar ‘mining cathedral’ of Zwartberg. About 150 participants covering four generations were contributing to the ceremony by their music, their drawings, by sharing their witnessing of what they had seen and experienced fourty years ago. An audience of more than 1500 members attended the ceremony which was live streamed on a huge screen. Two days later I was fired myself.
Short film ‘Zeg het met Spreuken!’
('Say it with proverbs!)
(©2013 – 23min)
Direction and screenplay of a short film around proverbs and expressions in various languages and cultures on the occasion of a Foyer colloquium celebrating twenty years of intercultural mediation.
Docu-film ‘La Rose Blanche’ (2019)
(©2019 - 75 min)
About the last popular Greek folk café in Molenbeek.
This film not only deals with the very touching family migration story of the owners of the last popular Greek café in Molenbeek. It covers as well the whole participation and heritage project Poli Roumeliotis and myself were initiating around this café as described under ‘projects’.
Montage : Wilbur Lemson
Screenplay: Poli Roumeliotis/ Wilbur Lemson/ Kris Kaerts
Subtitled in NL/FR & E/GR
The Last Post
For three weeks in January 2005, I organised a daily performance ritual on the ‘lid' of the completely destroyed coal mine of Zwartberg. At every sunset, a trumpet player blew -just like at the Menin Gate in Ypres- 'The Last Post', here in the presence of a former miner in full regalia who switched on and off his miner's lamp. The event attracted nearly 1000 visitors and quite some journalists.
For me, this ritual was mainly meant as an eye-catcher for the actual attraction: the theatrical, multidisciplinary commemoration of the victims of the mine closure of Zwartberg (1966) on location in the mine cathedral of Zwartberg.
I directed 150 participants (schoolchildren, choirs, musicians, technicians) across four generations. They all made a contribution to the celebration in word, image, music and song. More than 1,500 people attended the event. The popular singer Rocco Granata, who has his roots in the region also took part, free of charge. He performed a song from the album Mineworks by the duo Godfried Stockmans/Remo Perrotti, which was undoubtedly the most tangible result of the entire festival and a very strong musical interpretation of the life and work circumstances of an underground worker.
From here onwards I kept looking for the kick that all this created to me: thinking up a layered concept, writing a scenario, finding and coaching the performers (professionals and non-professionals), the technical staff, selecting the materials, figuring out the communication strategy ... and then bringing all those layers together into a ‘gesammtkunstwerk’ that can be enjoyed by a very diverse audience. It turned out to be a piece of cake that fitted into my hand very well.
From this celebration onwards, I knew that I had much more to say by looking at the players on stage than by looking at the audience as an actor. With one minor exception, it has remained that way.
Writing dossiers, taking up the artistic direction as well as scenario, direction, set design for 'Baraka!', a multidisciplinary theatre production around the first 'temporary' stays of the first migrants and ex-prisoners of war around the Limburg mines in the years '40s-'50s-'60s-'70s-'80s.
With in-depth interviews with ex-barracketeers as a basis for inspiration and a dramaturgical thread. This was commissioned by the Erfgoedcel Mijn Erfgoed.
It was my first participation project for CC Casino Houthalen-Helchteren.
It was a long term project with 20 actors and a dog and participants from 4 generations. A big plus afterwards: an interview with an ex-Russian prisoner of war and an ex-German prisoner of war.
First cooperation with Remo Perrotti who was responsible for filming and editing the interviews and the video-clips used in the performance.
Text, scenario, direction, set of 'Meulenbeik Forever!', a 'comedy with a ground' theatre show based on improvisations with actors of Moroccan origin for the occasion of 40 years of Integration Work Foyer in Molenbeek.
Performances and re-enactments took place at the Maison de la Culture et de la Cohésion Sociale in Molenbeek and in Zinnema.
Dossier, artistic direction, text, scenario, direction 'Kaputt!’
Kaputt! was a long-term participation project commissioned by vzw Hobo and GC De Markten with homeless people and soulmates.
Presentation on location in the Begijnhofkerk with assistance of the technicians from GC De Pianofabriek and numerous volunteers. The script was based on stories and improvisations of the participants.
Dossier, artistic direction, scenario, direction of 'Crossing'.
Participation project over two school years with mainly Roma youth from Vormingscentrum Foyer.
Presentation of a theatrical triptych in the Beguinage Church. Performance with more than 200 actors and volunteers, including technicians in training from GC De Pianofabriek and trainees in security techniques from a school in Geraardsbergen.
Major plus value of this project: the attendance statistics of these professional class-skippers during the project.
I Book You
Commissioned by Muntpunt in collaboration with the Passaporta Festival.
Concept, development and presentation of an alternative literary salon with excerpts from world literature, translated by Brussels residents and presented in 100 languages spoken in Brussels.
I was asked to create an event based on a 'Top 100' of masterpieces of world literature ... according to the readers of British newspaper 'The Guardian'!
I decided to respect this totally ethnocentric and eurocentric list as such, but to approach it as follows:
- One hundred excerpts from this 'best of' were read out in one hundred different mother tongues spoken in Brussels.
- The fragments were first translated by the native speakers in their own community.
This event would initially take place in the brand new renovated Brussels’ chief Flemish library MUNTPUNT. As the building was not yet ready, it was moved to the nearby (very chic) Dominican Hotel. This was really a salon! The reading sessions were regularly cheered up by musical interventions by Roma musicians led by Nicolas Hauzeur, as well as short interviews conducted by myself in the role of presentator.
Nicolas revealed himself being an expert in ‘balkanizing’ popular songs from the charts, giving them a ‘gipsy’ arrangement just for this occasion. It was great fun to do this.
Coaching music band 'The Rolling Dices' , a music group created within a daycare centre for mentally vulnerable people (vzw Den Teirling) in the context of the 'Te Gek' festival in Leuven.
Artistic direction and direction of a participatory project on building human castles in Catalan style in the public space in collaboration with Jonas Mertens and Marta Meix. With closing-event during the Parckdesignfestival on Tour&Taxis.
A project commissioned by Samenlevingsopbouw Brussel in collaboration with Integratiewerk Foyer. This insane potential project was not completed as anticipated due to the incredible short-sightedness and corporatist reflexes of these two partner-organisations.
La Rose Blanche
A multi-disciplinary participatory project with a migration and heritage angle around the last Greek popular café in Molenbeek with the following ingredients:
(each time in co-artistic direction with Poli Roumeliotis/vzw Polynikis )
- a documentary film
- a book publication in NL/FR/GR
- a shadow theatre performance (Karagkiozis tradition)
- a photo exhibition 'Greeks in Molenbeek’
- rembetiko concerts
- a light installation 'ICONS' in the former St.-Michel cigarette factory
- an Amicale (circle of friends) with thematic heritage interventions
- a traditional circular Black Sea area dance in collaboration with the Greek-Pontic association 'Kamian K'En Argos'.
2021 - ...
- ‘Putschfrau': podcast about the 'Chambres de Bonnes' (Maiden Rooms).
(work in progress)
- ‘Griekse Vaarwateren’: preparatory project on Greek sailors and Greek presence in Antwerp in collaboration with Poli Roumeliotis/ Polynikis vzw
(work in progress)
I have always loved writing, composing texts.
What I wrote, however, usually stayed in my drawers. At school I wrote for the school paper and for a while I was an editorial staff member of ZULMA, a literary magazine for the budding talent.
When I directed 'Baraka!' and had to search for written dialogues from improvisations and anecdotes provided by the actors, I discovered how easily they rolled out of my keyboard.
For all subsequent creations, I have continued to write scenarios and texts with great pleasure:
Scenario and dialogues of ‘Zeg het met Spreuken’ ('Say it with proverbs!)
Voice-over texts for documentary and co-screenplay 'Mamma Irma', docu-film about Italian migration in Belgium, filmed at the Meulenberg neighborhood in Houthalen- Helchteren. Direction and production Remo Perrotti & crew.
The voice-over monologues of the Towerfool character in the docu-film 'La Rose Blanche'.
Articles & columns
- ‘Three lessons for the poor' (Brussels Deze Week, 2010)
- ‘Qu'ils crèvent les artistes!’ (Festival des libertés, 2013)
- Contribution to Demos publication, 'The book tip of Kris Kaerts' 2017
- Digitale Weerstand (Digital Resistance) -seasonal brochure CC De Ploter, 2021
- Regular posts on own FB page
- Book publication 'La Rose Blanche'
© 2019 Skribis - publication in three languages in co-writership with Poli Roumeliotis
On this website I create a blog to share reflections, observations and just things that are striking and even haunting my mind.
Interviews turn out to be a perfect source of inspiration.
They help to create drama, dialogues, film, text. They help to deepen out a subject and to reflect upon it. I am especially interested to interview the ‘non-documented’: people that leave very little historical sources or archives. These interviews underline the value of oral history.
Series of in-depth interviews on the Limburg miners' barracks past on behalf of the Erfgoedcel Mijn Erfgoed with former barracks inhabitants.
Interviews and transcriptions for the book Grieken in Limburg ('Greeks in Limburg') by Maria Dermitzaki.
Interviews of Pavlos and Kostas Karassavidis, café owners of La Rose Blanche, for the documentary of the same name.
In 2006 I was asked by the organisation Danspunt vzw to be the curator for the annual Dansdag (dance day) in Genk. This is an event where amateur dance in Flanders in all its layers, scents and colours is put on the map.
It was a lot of fun to learn more about these thousands of passionates who dedicate their lives to music and dance and bring them all together in a big happening.
Coordination and final editing of 'Brussels in Dialogue' for Foyer, edition 2011.
Co-founder of Tirasila, a Brussels based experimental theatre company with a focus on movement, live musical accompaniment and stylized acting. For this purpose we created as well (and with our own hands) our own rehearsal space.
Co-founder of Vallabhatta Kalaripayat, a Brussels based branch of the martial art institute Vallabhatta Kalari Sangham in Kerala (South India). In this school (for a long time unique in Europe) we organised weekly trainings, workshops and rehearsals for our ‘weapon concerts’.
2009 - 2016
Co-founder of PLOEF! Plus On Est de Fous... an experimental space in Jette focusing on encounters and mixing different audiences, together with Indirah Osumba.
A place where the artistic is always on the menu without much pretension and is often served 'en stoemelings', a Brussels expression for ‘organically’.
I worked as a volunteer and as a free-lancer for technique, bar, presentation and communication.
I became a board member of the Jorsala association, an initiative for promoting dialogue in the world. In 2014 Jorsala organised a walk from Ostend to Istanbul.
I founded my own association KEYKOP! It is a necessary tool and structure to launch projects.
To be able to initiate ideas I realize all by myself or with the help of the right partner(s).
As a humanities student, I went on school trips to Paris, London and even to the URSS in the middle of the Cold War.
I also went on exchange to the US.
Shortly after my theatre studies, I travelled for six months in the South American continent where I spoke exclusively in Spanish.
After my first study trip to India in 1993, I went back many times to travel, take kalaripayat classes and of course watch performances during the festival period, especially the many (dance) theatre genres and rituals from the south of the Indian subcontinent (Kerala): kathakali - kudiyattam - pavakathakali - krishnattam - theyyam - mohini attam, melams, nagarituals ...
Nowadays, I am often found in Greece and the urge to travel to other continents seems to have subsided. I admit that considerations of my ecological footprint also play a role in this.
THE SET DESIGNER
I used to assist former dancer and set builder Peter Maschke on a lot of occasions in Tirasila-creations and other. Peter gave me the gusto to create the physical environment in which a play can be acted.
I think up the sets for all my productions and I am usually also the designer.
I choose honest, robust materials in which the idea of recycling or reuse is also an important factor.
In 2017 I designed the set for ‘Colibri’ a production by Luis Márquez of Mezcal vzw .
I function well in a multilingual environment.
Dutch is my mother tongue. French and English are languages in which I can express myself fluently, both spoken and written.
I can still manage quite well in Spanish and to a lesser extent in German.
Translations / Interpretations
I enjoy translating from French or English into Dutch. For theatre and films, I have often written dialogues in French, a language which is not my mother tongue. It always gave me great pleasure to translate these texts for the surtitles (theatre) and subtitles (screenings)... into my Dutch mother tongue!
I also translated the book 'Een binnenweg naar Istanbul' (© 2014 Sebastien De Fooz, Lannoo).
I get special pleasure from this every time. I find translating creative even though I translate meticulously and with respect for the source text.
Since covid-19, I have regularly been asked by organisations in Brussels to translate shorter texts from French into Dutch.
In 2014-2015 I did the translations and surtitles for two plays of Broccoli theatre: 'Sucre, Venin et Fleurs d'Orangers' + 'La civilisation ma Mère'. (with a.o. Ben Hamidou, directed by Gennaro Pitisci)
I also like to do the live surtitles in a theatre.
In 2007, I did it for the performance Carmen in the city theatre of Leuven.
In 2010, I did it for the performance 'Voyage' by La Fabrique Imaginaire in the Brussels Théâtre Varia.
Lecture in the series Breinbrekers ('Brainteasers') for GC De Pianofabriek on kalaripayat.
Lecture on the Indian 'Mahabharata versus kathakali' on the occasion of a kathakali performance in Bozar /PSK
Public readings of texts by Elvis Peeters for Monty and for KLARA.
I come from the working class. From childhood I was surrounded by people who made or repaired things with their hands.
All my life, I have resorted to physical labour: in temporary jobs to earn money, helping to make sets, their assembly and dismantling, as a loader-sorter at the airport, as a renovator, as a gardener or just any physical labour to balance myself.
One cannot escape one’s own genes!