Troubleyn / Jan Fabre (Belgium)
Tuesday October 11 at 7:00 p.m.
Teatro Piccolo Arsenale
Troubleyn/Jan Fabre (Belgium)
Prometheus Landscape II [Italian premiere]
Concept, direction, set design Jan Fabre
written by Jeroen Olvslaegers (I am the all-giver from the Prometheus Bound by Aeschilus), by Jan Fabre (We need heroes now)
with Kurt Vandendriessche (Prometheus), Ivana Jozic (Prologo, Bia, Athena), Gilles Polet (Prologo), Cédric Charron (Kratos, Dyonisos), Kasper Vandenberghe (Hephaestus), Lawrence Goldhuber (Epimetheus), Annabelle Chambon (Io), Katarina Bistrovic-Darvaš (Hermes, Oceanus), Katarzyna Makuch (Pandora), Vittoria De Ferrari
music Dag Taeldeman
assistance and dramaturgy Miet Martens
lighting Jan Dekeyser
costumes Andrea Kränzlin
technical coordination on tour Arne Lievens
sound and video Tom Buys
technical coordination Bern Van Deun
production Troubleyn/Jan Fabre (Antwerp, Belgium)
with the support of the Flemish Government
a co-production of Peak Performances@Montclair State University (Montclair, USA), Théâtre de la Ville (Paris, France), Malta Festival (Poznan, Poland), Tanzhaus NRW (Düsseldorf, Germany), Zagreb Youth Theatre (Zagreb, Croatia), Exodos Ljubljana (Ljubljana, Slovenia)
and in co-production with La Biennale di Venezia (Venice, Italy), Bitef Theatre Belgrade (Belgrade, Serbia) as part of the ENPARTS – European Network of Performing Arts project with the support of the Culture Programme of the European Commission
A choreographer, director, set designer, but also the author of sculptures, drawings, films, installations and disconcerting performances, since the Seventies Flemish artist Jan Fabre has built a body of works that has brought him international fame, giving form and truth to his obsessions with an incomparable sense of discipline and perfection. A many-time guest at the Venice Biennale since the earliest days of his career in the theatre, when he was invited to the International Art Exhibition in 1984 with The Power of Theatrical Madness, a frequent guest at Documenta in Kassel, where he made his choreographic debut with Dance Sections, Jan Fabre is one of the few contemporary artists to be consecrated with an exhibition at the Louvre in Paris (Jan Fabre au Louvre. L’Ange de la metamorphose, 2008). With a reputation as a provocateur and an inconvenient artist, Jan Fabre’s work is inspired by a profound ethical rebellion: it is no surprise therefore, that twenty years later (Prometheus Landscape I is dated 1988), Fabre returns to the mythical figure of Prometheus, the archetype of every rebellion, the hero who stole the fire from the gods in a proud gesture of independence from the rules of Mount Olympus, and gave it to men. Fabre began with the prototype by Aeschylus and, clearing the table of all the interpretations that have stratified over the centuries, he decomposes the play into eight explosive monologues, plunging the action into an apocalyptic landscape of fire, smoke and sand, exasperating the tragic dimension in a violent accusation against society.
Prometheus – Landscape II, which made its debut in the United States in January, after a tour through the major capitals of Europe and Japan, comes for its Italian premiere performance to the Biennale di Venezia, which co-produced it with the Bitef Theatre of Belgrade as part of the ENPARTS (European Network of Performing Arts) Project with the support of the Culture Programme of the European Commission.
Fabre’s Prometheus immerses you in the multifarious temporal layers of this well-known myth. (…) Where is our tragic hero now? Fabre wonders out loud in an endless recital. Where is he? Our time needs him. Throughout the prelude, the two actors whisper, beg and cry in every key to the hero: “We need heroes now!”
Until the curtain is raised and the Prometheus landscape unfolds before us: at the end, projected on the horizon, the bright, blinding light of the sun; in front the hero Prometheus, the sacrificial lamb of civilisation, seemingly caught in a web, quartered and strung up by thick ropes like a lacerated Christ.
In that landscape, a sculptor is at work with words. Jeroen Olieslagers has recomposed Aeschylus' myth: in eight monologues, he gives voice to the inhabitants of Mt. Olympus who give breath and rhythm to the story of the hero Prometheus in near Biblical verse. The language comes across as heavy and dense, almost feverish at times like flames reaching ever-higher skyward. It is the language of the gods, which reverberates like thunder through the mythical universe. One by one, the Olympians offer their vision on the tale of the fire-bringer: Hephaestus who chained the arrogant hero to Mt. Caucasus; Athena, daughter of Zeus and confederate of the fire god; Epimetheus, the dumb brother who could not resist Zeus' treacherous gift in the form of Pandora and her cursed box; Io who, driven to madness by a stinging horsefly, comes to complain to the other punished and chained god; and Oceanus, Dionysus, Pandora, Hermes and finally Prometheus, the Titan son himself who has finally broken the long silence with his mighty curse of the divine ruler Zeus: "this is a scream right from the gut; I resist."
Finally he arrives, the hero, from his elevated position on Mt. Caucasus, challenging Zeus, not afraid of what torture may result, resisting the pain, proudly staring humiliation in the eye. But the blazing fire, stolen from heaven, has since made him blind to the reality unfolding before him. His fire, that ever-cherished gift to humanity, has been consumed, extinguished and spent by mankind. (…) Our society with all its rules and laws has banished the fire and with it imagination. Fabre shows us, on stage, a closed community under the spell of fire; fire which attracts us while nevertheless harbouring a latent danger. Via costumes reminiscent of several kinds of religion, Fabre exposes an ambivalent relationship to fire: even at the core of the tale of passion, passion is tempered and suppressed. Someone is always standing at the ready to snuff out every possible spark, every potential flaring of the fire. Before every fireplace, a bucket of sand stands guard, and any smouldering remains are hacked apart with axes. The flow of the mighty cursing and profanation the Olympic gods continuously sling at each other; the flow of images which Fabre has ripple and lash over the stage like waves. For throughout, fires are continuously extinguished but also continuously relit. Individuals, in other words, continue their feverish search for moments of passion, that which sets their body, their soul, on fire. (…)This new piece confronts us with the battlefield of our civilization. At its basis: Prometheus' fire. But what did mankind do with the magical power of fire? What alchemy did it inspire? And to what end has the fear of fire delivered us?
Luk Van den Dries (University of Antwerp)
Fabre's 10 valiant and immensely gifted performers play a variety of mythic characters—delivering passionate speeches, as well as participating in wild revels and bondage rites, and negotiating outbursts of flame (assuring us sardonically that there are emergency exits). (…) Watching and listening to Fabre's parable/spectacle is exciting, dizzying, dangerous, infuriating, sometimes exhausting in its over-the-top furor. Head still throbbing, I'd see it again in an instant.
Deborah Jowitt, The Village Voice, 2 February 2011
Need something huge, need to be blown away? There is only one name that comes to mind: Jan Fabre. (…) Jan Fabre uses Greek mythology to launch yet another attack against an empty, antiseptic society, that quashes any spurt of freedom and imagination. He who created man and stole the fire of the gods for him, for Fabre, who with Jeroen Olyslaegers is the co-author of the English text of this show that is more theatre than choreography, embodies the image of a defeated civilization, whose spark has been quelled, whose last twitches of life taste like ashes. (…) that splendid profusion of energy! Whether a woman attempts to sing at the top of her lungs or a couple lunges avidly onto one another, it’s always sex and desire that Fabre considers to be the best vectors for warmth. (…) Following L’Orgie de la tolerance (2009), which caught today’s prevailing obscenity and cynicism in flagrante delicto, Fabre creates not only a gripping performance but a manifesto for life, for its unpredictability, its filthiness, its craziness.
Rosita Boisseau, Le Monde, 2 April 2011
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[ Download the Festival’s brochure in PDF ]