Théâtre National

Story makers

« A place where everything separating artists from spectators seems to have disappeared. »

The way we build images and the reasons we tell stories have continually changed since time immemorial. This new century is redefining our relationship with time and space, the here and now.
It seems as though everyone today has the tools to bear witness to the world on a grand scale, to create a piece of fiction, make information known and share it.

The challenge is to reinvent ourselves in paradoxical times when communication and emotion not only represent tools of mass enslavement, but also favour the birth of an alternative. These days, everyone is on air and able to broadcast their stories. So we have both an individual and a collective responsiblity for the information and emotions we share. As I see it, it is precisely this multiform creativity that will generate other possibilities.

At the heart of danger, the seething threat of the here and now, there is the theatre and its two thousand six hundred years of solid, loyal service to the non-market sector. And for two thousand six hundred years, artists have been reinventing the show and its language on a daily basis.

The challenge for a world in motion is not to cast aside the classics, but to redefine them, alter the way in which they are viewed and shared, refusing to see things in black and white. It is not reactionary to respect two thousand six hundred years of work, to draw inspiration from the great masters, to protect jobs that are dying out and won’t be revived for a long time. Experience gives rise to new forms, and the artists in the 2017-18 season don’t have to ponder over the reinvention of their stage language: it’s a done deal.

This selection of Belgian and international works pays tribute to the people who fill this theatre, to the artistry, nights of hard work, indignation and obsessions of all the story makers. It showcases the demands of form and the relevance of words, the urgent need to tell stories and the fundamental desire to show where we stand in today’s world.

We are inviting you to step a little further into this theatre and see the shows through the eyes of those who put them on. The Théâtre National is a sharing tool and we now want to throw open the doors of the Studio TN, our laboratory of creation, just as a top restaurant might throw open its kitchen… because sharing a chef’s secrets can reveal new flavours.
Doing this brings the artists closer to the spectators, redefining their central arguments, their vulnerability, their need to be

On the night of the dress rehearsal, everything seems set in stone, the shouting doesn’t sound loud enough for the anger that generated it and the story also feels unfinished... And yet, on the first night, everything comes together, and the story is reinvented because it has at last been brought before members of the audience with all their life experiences and different imaginative worlds. The performance takes on new meaning because the audience is also a story maker. Every show originates in the unknown, in what artists don’t know about their work, what they don’t want to know about themselves, in the sheet of ice that the audience will have helped to crack open. A material much stronger than the walls which, at one time, only surrounded our continent but which are now going up deep within it. In Brussels, in Wallonia, in Flanders, in the heart of Europe, the mere fact of being together, here and now, is tantamount to an act of resistance. As for the stories, they are older than mankind. They have also built walls… millions of terraced rows, human walls which have provided us with real protection, and which still allow us to hold out against no end of attacks, right here, right now.

Studio TN
During the course of the season, six artists will take up residence in this creative space. Six artists of very different ages, origins and languages. In chronological order, Michèle-Anne De Mey and Jaco Van Dormael (Amor), Justine Lequette (J’abandonne une partie de moi que j’adapte), Anne-Cécile Vandalem (Arctique), Jan Christoph Gockel (Frankenstein), Armel Roussel (L’Eveil du Printemps) and Milo Rau (Histoire du théâtre) will take turns to work in the Studio TN, our
laboratory of creation. These artists head up theatre companies, they share a sense of the collective and team work which informs their work with a rigorous approach to stage craft, giving rise to the invention of a unique language which no longer sees any reason to separate form and content. Backed by a theatre company, these artists engage with their history and their questions, an intiative showcased by the Studio TN for the duration of a production.

Fabrice Murgia, Director

© Phile Deprez - Five Easy Pieces / Milo Rau / IIPM / CAMPO