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Théâtre National Wallonie-Bruxelles


‘We have more than one body.’ This injunction-like statement is almost a magic formula. When we look at Gloria Scorier’s drawings, we get the feeling that the season’s illustrator is getting close to it: with her elegant style, bursting with colour and teeming with bodies, just like the life-affirming transformations that are taking place everywhere today. 
© Gloria Scorier

Towards what are the transformations converging? What do they tell us as narratives, at once aesthetic and political? They re-politicize the body and through the body – which now refuses to be assigned to an experience, a biological life, even a destiny due to one of its traits (biological sex, disability, skin colour or sexual appearance). They draw chosen bodies, other identities, a new political frontier, undoing a good number of modern dualisms in the process: nature / culture; human / non-human; tradition / progress; feminine / masculine. It’s all happening in the middle. 

To rightly assess the rearrangements, both physical and political, is to understand that the question of our time is quite simply and most radically: how does theatre re-signify itself in order to be at one with the greatest care, for (and with) as many people as possible? And to revive an ideal of desirable emancipation. 

As a result, the Théâtre National Wallonie-Bruxelles is going to walk this ridge: raising the demand for the common by drawing on new reciprocal appropriations in order to create spaces where artistic creation is shared, debated, negotiated and reinvented by the various bodies, including those bodies that are in conflict with others. Not giving in to the illusory shortcut of fragmented identities or of a single identity seems all the more necessary to us as mistrust of democracy and the climate emergency violently threaten every living body. Today, all living bodies are threatened. We therefore call for symbiosis, for becoming-together

To step into the 2023–24 season is to step into Terrasumbiôsis (land of symbiosis) against a backdrop of fluidity, highlights – Jours de Fête, Urban Dance Caravan, Scènes Nouvelles, à la scène comme à la ville –, social justice and climate justice. Where the stories told compost with multi-specific narratives, time, pure joy, genres, multiple bodies and diverse disciplines. Where imaginations are as rich in harmonious connections as in battles, in terrors as in joyful gatherings. Everything counts. 

Imagine Terrasumbiôsis. That land that stretches out, at once aerial and powerfully terrestrial, with no unique root. Where destructive relational histories – birth, parentage, age, gender – are fought by Gaia Saitta, Hanane Hajj Ali, Virginie Jortay and Consolate to become stories of creative liberation. Do you hear? It is the music of the breaths of Raoul Collectif, Łukasz Twarkowski and Samuel Achache who are mobilizing to resist totalitarian regimes. Miet Warlop and Mohamed El Khatib explain the various ways of living and dying to gain strength. In successive waves, exiles join them in the stories of Christiane Jatahy and Tatiana Frolova to form alliances with Silvio Palomo and Nicolas Mouzet Tagawa and to gently refashion the art of living well. Do you see? Here, love enables Laurène Marx to bend her tongue, her body by choosing her gender. There, naturalized identity – disability – becomes undone in the masticatory stories of Milo Rau and Olivier Martin-Salvan. There, the activist healing gestures of Joëlle Sambi and Rebecca Chaillon reach out to other living beings. Naturally, Transquinquennal metabolizes practices of survival and care that it passes on to the children of Vincent Hennebicq and Alexis Julemont’s utopian communities to be free. This is its mission. Until the finale which sees the children of Terrasumbiôsis dancing with Marlene Monteiro Freitas and the Ballet de l’Opéra de Lyon and releasing the generative energies of Ayelen Parolin and Hendrickx Ntela in a beautiful solstice ritual. 

We are much more than one body.

Pierre Thys, General and Artistic Director
& the team of the Théâtre National Wallonie-Bruxelles

Le Rideau de saison, Maak & Transmettre · photos : Lucile Dizier, 2024