BELGIAN
BELGIUM
RULES



“Theatre lay at the birth of this small country, and theatre is what this small country shall remain ”


 

BELGIAN RULES/BELGIUM RULES 

Welkom in België! Bienvenue en Belgique! Willkommen in Belgien!

Theatre lay at the birth of this small country, and theatre is what this small country shall remain. Belgium is a country that is bursting with bureaucracy and forced formality. An artificial and unstable state, used as a stage for the wars of others. Everyone (and no one) speaks three languages. Three regions cover and divide this tiny territory. Welcome to Absurdistan! 

Belgians feed and feast on life. Chips! Beer! Waffles and chocolate! They revel in flesh. They dance with death. They believe in big bands, masks and carnival. This dwarf state is great in grand parades of giants.

Here the image guides you, where words whither. A small country forces you to look beyond borders. Imagination has always been an escape route. Grey skies and rain create a grateful canvas. Belgium forms a fertile soil for visual art.

Belgians strip reality. They share the eternal wink with their beloved characters from the bande dessinée. With their wit as weapon they wage war and maintain peace. Irony, but never cynicism, forms their armour. The Mannekens piss communally. No one laughs as loudly with the Belgians as they with themselves.

Belgium is a country of surrealists. Sur-real and sub-versive, they stack alternate realities upon each other. O dear Belgium, O (un)holy land of our fathers. Ceci n’est pas un pays.

This cockpit country is a frigid follower of rules and rulers. Here lives a race of shirkers and cheaters. They bend the law and stretch the order. The Belgian blood is bursting with resourcefulness and independence. 

But the Belgians are peaceful anarchists: over a glass of beer, with an open mind and an open view, the credo of the compromise reverberates. They burrow – up until their knees in clay, in this rugged potato land. 

Belgians carry a brick in their stomach. Flowerbeds and frilly curtains guard their sovereignty and singularity. Long live that legendary ugliness! Breaking through that banana smile doesn’t seem easy. But underneath the hedgehog’s prickly spine, behind the constant sighing, there is a soft, strokeable skin.

Don’t be caught off guard by the flags and the swaying of banners, by the booming bash you’re invited to join. The parable of this strange kingdom is not a story of nationalism – rather a story about the total absence of nationalism. Belgians are proud of their lack of pride. 

This misshapen, misplaced and mutilated country constitutes the magnificent middle point of Europe. Roll up the shutters and find a window onto this laconic land. Peer through the frame and see much more of the world beyond Belgian borders.

Jan Fabre pays homage to his motherland. Just as Fellini made his Roma, Fabre wants to celebrate his complex, crazy country. He uses the language best suited to grasp the spirit of this slippery state: that of theatre, that of the image. An international cast of performers and musicians searches for the Belgian identity and translates it into a travelling dance and theatre performance. Singer-songwriter Raymond van het Groenewoud provides the anthems; author Johan de Boose writes the text.

By Edith Cassiers 

 

“Theatre lay at the birth of this small country, and theatre is what this small country shall remain ”



“La Belgique est un pays de Surréalistes. Sur-réel et sub-versif. Le Belge se meut et se nourrit au-delà, en deçà et à côté de la réalité. Noble Belgique, ô mère lubrique ! Ceci n’est pas un pays. ”


BELGIAN RULES / BELGIUM RULES

 

Bienvenue en Belgique ! Welkom in België ! Willkommen in Belgien !

 

Le théâtre est à l’origine de la naissance de ce petit pays, et ce petit pays est encore aujourd’hui un théâtre en soi. La Belgique est un pays qui croule sous la bureaucratie et les formalités inutiles. Un État artificiel qui ne semble tenir que par des bouts de ficelles, et que des pays voisins utilisent comme plate-forme pour mener leurs guerres. Tous ses habitants (et aucun d’eux) parlent trois langues. Trois régions divisent et réduisent à rien ce minuscule territoire. Bienvenue en Absurdistan !

 

Les Belges s’assouvissent de vie. Ils jouissent, mangent et boivent à s’en péter la panse. Frites ! Bière ! Gaufres et chocolat ! Ils célèbrent la chère et la chair. Croient dans les fanfares et la fête. À l’occasion desquelles ils dansent avec la mort, des masques et le carnaval. Cet État nain est grandiose dans ses cortèges de géants.

 

Plus que le mot, c’est l’image qui sert ici de guide. Un petit pays, ça vous oblige à regarder bien au-delà des frontières. Dans ses limites, le chemin de l’évasion passe sans manquer par l’imaginaire. Ciels gris et pluie constituent une prodigue toile de fond. Et l’art visuel peut s’épanouir. Le Belge découpe la réalité en vignettes. Il adopte le clin d’œil immortalisé de ses personnages de BD préférés. Avec son humour capricieux, il vous démonte et vous désarme. En guise d’armure, de l’ironie, jamais de cynisme. Les Mannekes Pis pissent un peu partout. Personne ne se moque autant des Belges que lui-même.  

La Belgique est un pays de Surréalistes. Sur-réel et sub-versif. Le Belge se meut et se nourrit au-delà, en deçà et à côté de la réalité. Noble Belgique, ô mère lubrique ! Ceci n’est pas un pays.

Ce pays à coulisses est un amant peu ardent du roi et du gouvernement. Il abrite une race de bricoleurs et de débrouillards. Qui défient la loi, contournent et détournent les règles. Ce caractère dégourdi et cet esprit d’indépendance, le Belge l’a dans le sang.

Il est un anarchiste paisible, pacifique : à la bonne franquette, l’esprit large et l’œil ouvert, il entonne le credo du compromis. Mollets dans la glaise, il fouit l’ingrate terre à patates.

Le Belge a une brique dans le ventre. Derrière ses petits parterres fleuris et ses rideaux colorés, il veille sur sa souveraineté et sa singularité. Vive cette laideur légendaire ! Rompre son sourire de banane se révèle difficile. Mais sous les piquants du hérisson, sous le soupir inamovible, il a une peau douce qui se laisse caresser.

 

Ne vous en laissez pas conter par les drapeaux qui flottent, par ceux qu’on agite, ni par les fêtes pétaradantes auxquelles vous êtes invités. Aucun récit nationaliste ne saurait fournir une parabole seyant à ce royaume bizarre. Si ce n’est une histoire sur l’absence totale de nationalisme. Le Belge est fier de son manque de fierté.

Ce pays difforme, déformé, déplacé constitue le magnifique centre de l’Europe. Remontez les volets roulants et vous découvrirez une fenêtre donnant sur ce pays laconique. Regardez par le chambranle et vous verrez une grande partie du monde.

 

Jan Fabre nous offre un hymne. À l’instar de Fellini avec son film ‘Roma’, l’Anversois célèbre son pays complexe et fou. Il le fait dans la langue la mieux à même de capter l’esprit de cet État qui ne cesse de nous échapper : celle du théâtre, celle de l’image. Des performers et des musiciens de différentes nationalités l’aident à cerner l’identité belge et à la traduire en une représentation itinérante où s’allient danse et théâtre. L’écrivain Johan de Boose en signe le texte tandis que l’auteur-compositeur Raymond van het Groenewoud l’agrémente de plusieurs chansons.

 

Edith Cassiers

“La Belgique est un pays de Surréalistes. Sur-réel et sub-versif. Le Belge se meut et se nourrit au-delà, en deçà et à côté de la réalité. Noble Belgique, ô mère lubrique ! Ceci n’est pas un pays. ”



“This is a land with gardens full of rain and smoke, with shadows of imaginary mountains, with sundays full of desire, with a sky coloured as silver, with girls who smell like the sea and who laugh like water.   ”
— JOHAN DE BOOSE

This is a land

with gardens

full of rain and smoke,

with shadows

of imaginary mountains,

with sundays

full of desire,

with a sky

coloured as silver,

with girls

who smell like the sea

and who laugh like water.

 

This is a land

with a heaven of stone

and women as fables,

with men who wear

a jacket of carbon and sweat,

with children

as birds of hope,

with walls

that have ears

and rain

that comforts

and heals.

 

This is a land

with bricks

red as fire,

with houses

that smell

like bread and beer,

with hills

that want to be mountains

and rivers

that want to be oceans,

the land of sweet fear

and guilty silence.

“This is a land with gardens full of rain and smoke, with shadows of imaginary mountains, with sundays full of desire, with a sky coloured as silver, with girls who smell like the sea and who laugh like water.   ”
— JOHAN DE BOOSE



“THE STRANGER:
Welcome to the most bizarre kingdom of the world!
Make no mistake:
This is not the story of nationalism,
This is the story of a complete lack of nationalism. ”

— JOHAN DE BOOSE

“THE STRANGER:
Welcome to the most bizarre kingdom of the world!
Make no mistake:
This is not the story of nationalism,
This is the story of a complete lack of nationalism. ”

— JOHAN DE BOOSE



“No other country can fart as artfully as Belgium. It's a realm of village marching bands, myriad religious processions on Sundays and feast days, and colourful Carnival celebrations. ”
— Luk Van Den Dries

BELGIUM RULES!

No other country is as rickety as Belgium. It's cracked, fractured, a chapped and calloused land, built on misunderstanding and incomprehension. Its history is a string of violations, separations, and forced marriages. Belgium is one huge battlefield where countless wars have been fought, with spears, swords, and bayonets, shells, howitzers, and V-2s. The country is strewn with war cemeteries where – to paraphrase one of our great poets – the bodies of soldiers lie, like seeds, in the sand. Hope for the harvest, O Belgium, my land. No soil so fertile as that of our beloved Belgium!

 

The misshapen child of the Napoleonic wars, Belgium was whisked together with the Netherlands in 1815, only to liberate itself soon afterwards, while belting the opera La muette de Portici. Yes, Belgium's veins run with song, from our patriotic anthems 'La Brabançonne' and 'De Vlaamse Leeuw' to the 2009 hit 'Alors on danse', because on aime bien s'amuser! Yes, we amuse ourselves to pieces! Belgium has always been malformed, not only during its long birth, and that explains why it still cherishes its deformities today. It is a dwarf state that fancies itself a kingdom, a historical anomaly that no one has thought to set right, a crippled nation suffering from chronic scurvy and cramps. It walks with a stoop, with its nose in the fertile West Flemish soil, provoking the Dutch with its hunchback and sticking its rear in the face of the rest of Europe. Belgium rules!

 

No other country can fart as artfully as Belgium. It's a realm of village marching bands, myriad religious processions on Sundays and feast days, and colourful Carnival celebrations. The Gilles de Binche, who sport ostrich feathers and perform raucous dances in clogs with clattering bells, are a first-class example of Belgian patrimony. In fact, they have made it onto the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage list. And then there are the Voil Jeannetten in Aalst, transvestites with fake boobs who push baby carriages through the streets. Welcome to Absurdistan. Welcome to the homeland of Manneken Pis. Welcome to the country that could only have been dreamed up by a Surrealist! Welcome to the heart-rending heart of Europe. Would you care for frites with that? With tartar sauce, Russian dressing, or Hannibal (a crunchy raw onion concoction)? How about a boulet (Liège meatball), a curryworst special, or a meat stew? Our friteries are just as much part of our immaterial heritage. Only in Belgium!

 

But what really sets Belgium apart is its penchant for impossible dreams. In a country of low skies, you have to let your imagination soar! And in a country of cracks and fissures, you learn to fall hard. In a land of park rangers, the thieves are quicker and cannier. When life is grey from day to day, you can colour it in with dreams. The imagination is the best escape route for those who feel trapped. This little land, this ugly lovely twisted land, this proud, all-too-humiliated land, excels in defying gravity and transcending its limits. It is the cradle of mystics like Hadewijch and John of Ruusbroec, who put their ecstatic visions down in writing. The land of Rubens, Rogier van der Weyden, and Jacob Jordaens, of Bosch, Breughel, and so many others who have taught us to look beyond the limits of the skin and the first glance, of reality and respectability. The land of Félicien Rops, who released all the mystical devils in one erotic pandemonium. The land of Magritte, who taught us that a pipe is not a pipe. But the plain truth is that there's no such thing as Belgium. Belgium is a Surrealist nightmare. Or is it a dream? In the words of our national anthem:

 

O beloved Belgium, O sacred land of our fathers . . .

Our souls and our hearts are devoted to you!

 

“No other country can fart as artfully as Belgium. It's a realm of village marching bands, myriad religious processions on Sundays and feast days, and colourful Carnival celebrations. ”
— Luk Van Den Dries



“Waar er mossel met friet is 

 En ook kip aan het spit is

 Waar de kerk in 't midden staat 
 Waar de purperen hei bloeit 

 En het geld in het zwart vloeit 

 Waar men nauwelijks Nederlands praat 

 Waar een diploma geen zin heeft 

 En de koning geen kind heeft

 Waar de schuimwijnkoningin defileert 

 Waar het volk goedlachs is 
 
En een vuist zonder kracht is 
 ​
Waar men faalt en aan de toog expliceert 
 ”

— RAYMOND VAN HET GROENEWOUD

“Waar er mossel met friet is 

 En ook kip aan het spit is

 Waar de kerk in 't midden staat 
 Waar de purperen hei bloeit 

 En het geld in het zwart vloeit 

 Waar men nauwelijks Nederlands praat 

 Waar een diploma geen zin heeft 

 En de koning geen kind heeft

 Waar de schuimwijnkoningin defileert 

 Waar het volk goedlachs is 
 
En een vuist zonder kracht is 
 ​
Waar men faalt en aan de toog expliceert 
 ”

— RAYMOND VAN HET GROENEWOUD

 

CREDITS BELGIAN RULES/BELGIUM RULES

Performance:

Annabelle Chambon, Cédric Charron, Tabitha Cholet, Anny Czupper, Conor Doherty, Stella Höttler, Ivana Jozic, Gustav Königs, Mariateresa Notarangelo, Cigdem Polat, Annabel Reid, Ursel Tilk, Merel Severs, Kasper Vandenberghe and Andrew Van Ostade.

 

Concept and direction: Jan Fabre

Text: Johan de Boose

Music: Raymond van het Groenewoud and Andrew Van Ostade

Dramaturgy: Miet Martens

Assistance dramaturgy: Edith Cassiers

Costume design: Kasia Mielczarek and Jonne Sikkema

 

Intern assistant director: Nina Certyn

Intern P.U.L.S. (Project for Upcoming artists on the Large Stage): Timeau De Keyser

Intern costume design: Monika Nyckowka

 

Technical management: Andre Schneider

Production management: Sebastiaan Peeters

Stage technique: Wout Janssens

 

Inter(national) sales: Sophie Vanden Broeck

Company management: Mark Geurden

Business coordinator: Joost Claes

Press and communication: Edith Cassiers

 

Production: Troubleyn/Jan Fabre

Co-production: ImpulsTanz Vienna International Dance Festival, Napoli Teatro Festival, Théâtre de Liège, Concertgebouw Brugge

 

 

 

 

TOUR DATES

01 July 2017
 
(Avant Première) Napoli Teatro Festival - Napels, IT
18 July 2017
 
(Première) ImpulsTanz Festival - Wenen, AT
{
30 September 2017
01 October 2017
 
RomaEuropa Festival - Rome, IT
{
27 October 2017
28 October 2017
 
Teatro Central - Sevila, ES
03 November 2017
 
Concertgebouw - Brugge, BE
{
07 November 2017
08 November 2017
 
Stadschouwburg Amsterdam - Amsterdam, NL
{
16 November 2017
18 November 2017
 
Het Toneelhuis - Antwerpen, BE
{
13 December 2017
15 December 2017
 
Humain Trop Humain - Montpellier, FR

 

BELGIAN RULES/BELGIUM RULES

Welkom in België! Bienvenue en Belgique! Willkommen in Belgien!

Theatre lay at the birth of this small country, and theatre is what this small country shall remain. Belgium is a country that is bursting with bureaucracy and forced formality. An artificial and unstable state, used as a stage for the wars of others. Everyone (and no one) speaks three languages. Three regions cover and divide this tiny territory. Welcome to Absurdistan! 

Belgians feed and feast on life. Chips! Beer! Waffles and chocolate! They revel in flesh. They dance with death. They believe in big bands, masks and carnival. This dwarf state is great in grand parades of giants.

 

Here the image guides you, where words whither. A small country forces you to look beyond borders. Imagination has always been an escape route. Grey skies and rain create a grateful canvas. Belgium forms a fertile soil for visual art.

Belgians strip reality. They share the eternal wink with their beloved characters from the bande dessinée. With their wit as weapon they wage war and maintain peace. Irony, but never cynicism, forms their armour. The Mannekens piss communally. No one laughs as loudly with the Belgians as they with themselves.

Belgium is a country of surrealists. Sur-real and sub-versive, they stack alternate realities upon each other. O dear Belgium, O (un)holy land of our fathers. Ceci n’est pas un pays.

 

This cockpit country is a frigid follower of rules and rulers. Here lives a race of shirkers and cheaters. They bend the law and stretch the order. The Belgian blood is bursting with resourcefulness and independence. 

But the Belgians are peaceful anarchists: over a glass of beer, with an open mind and an open view, the credo of the compromise reverberates. They burrow – up until their knees in clay, in this rugged potato land. 

Belgians carry a brick in their stomach. Flowerbeds and frilly curtains guard their sovereignty and singularity. Long live that legendary ugliness! Breaking through that banana smile doesn’t seem easy. But underneath the hedgehog’s prickly spine, behind the constant sighing, there is a soft, strokeable skin.

 

Don’t be caught off guard by the flags and the swaying of banners, by the booming bash you’re invited to join. The parable of this strange kingdom is not a story of nationalism – rather a story about the total absence of nationalism. Belgians are proud of their lack of pride. 

This misshapen, misplaced and mutilated country constitutes the magnificent middle point of Europe. Roll up the shutters and find a window onto this laconic land. Peer through the frame and see much more of the world beyond Belgian borders.

 

Jan Fabre pays homage to his motherland. Just as Fellini made his Roma, Fabre wants to celebrate his complex, crazy country. He uses the language best suited to grasp the spirit of this slippery state: that of theatre, that of the image. An international cast of performers and musicians searches for the Belgian identity and translates it into a travelling dance and theatre performance. Singer-songwriter Raymond van het Groenewoud provides the anthems; author Johan de Boose writes the text.

Edith Cassiers