Theater Stap



Artistic centre With organized a project about the NIP-test. Ghuislain museum was host for a big exhibition of works by both mentally disabled and other artists, thematically centred around the NIP-test. ‘A Walking Opera’ , a mix of musical and theatrical performances had the same theme. Theater Stap staged ‘HET SPEKTAKEL VAN DE HALVEN EN DE HELEN’ , directed by Bart Van Gyseghem, which was one of the highlights of the evening for many people.

For the same project, Stap actors Hazina Kenis and Jason van Laere joined word artists Peter Holvoet Hanssen and Geertje Vangenechten in ‘Onderland’ (‘Underland’).

In the summer ‘Het Spektakel van de Halven en de Helen’ toured several festivals in Germany and was staged in schools, at events and conferences in Belgium.

In June, the 50th Stap production ‘HET KRAAKPAND’ (‘The Squat’) had its first night in Futur in Turnhout. For this jubilee performance, we wanted to show something which was characteristic for the  company, something in which it had always excelled. For Theater Stap a hard choice: theatre, dance, film, performance; we did it all.  Inevitably ‘Het Kraakpand’ became a mixture, a pattern card of what we have to offer. This meant, among other things, the shortfilms ‘Downside Up’ and ‘Jan Devroey’, a performance by our String Orchestra, ‘Het Spektakel van de Halven en de Helen’ and the solo danceperformance ‘Blade Racer’, created by Koen De Preter en Peter Janssen. ‘Het Kraakpand’ was Stap’s attempt to respond to the changing theatre landscape where single full evening performances are more and more abandoned. ‘Het Kraakpand’ is a festival where ‘meeting’ is the key word. The precise conditions for touring depend on the time, the space and the specific wishes of each organizer. It often happens that a local company with mentally disabled people get involved and are offered an opportunity to perform on stage.

‘Het Stappersplein’, the name of the newly acquired building, was made ready for use. Thanks to the many financial gifts and a few big sponsors the building was beautiful and durable renovated. It opened officially with an open air party for the Stap actors, their families, acquaintances, the neighbourhood and the sponsors. With this new building and the activities we intend to plan here, we’re looking forward to a more intense and closer cooperation with the neigbourhood.

Tour of ‘De Wereld and ‘Tu’tu’, recapture of ‘To Belong’ for a festival in Germany.


First night of ‘DE WERELD’. We again witness protagonist Jerome, who rises from his bench to discover the world. Three actors from ‘De Bank’ are supported by 4 other experienced and 3 new actors. A risky but succesful choice. Frank and Luc again chose live music, this time by Steven De bruyn on mouth-organ and Tsubasa Hori on oriental percussion instruments. The press regarded it ‘The must see experience of the year’ and we started dreaming of one day bringing  the two performances ‘De Bank’ and ‘De Wereld’ as a dyptich.

Eleven years after its first tour, the succesful performance for nursery classes, ‘TU’TU’ was restaged. Director Daphne Laquière opted to work with the original cast. The three actors quickly restarted from where they had left. Needless to say, the speed was somewhat slackened because the youngsters of 11 years ago had grown a bit rusty. The rehearsals were very intensive, but the audiences were as enthusiastic as eleven years previous.

We cooperated on a project with ‘De Ruimte’. They specialize in organizing projects with vulnerable people through the plastic arts. ‘VANZELFZAAMHEID’ was a performance in which plastic arts, theatre, poetry and gastronomy met. The stakes were high, the try-outs a success. However, it turned out to be a difficult project to interest a large public in. As a result it was put ‘on hold’ for an indefinite time.

The appetite for short(er) pieces (theatre, dance, performance, film) proves to be permanent. Eric Verboven, artist and creative attendant at Stap prepared a performance for the Verbeke Foundation in Kemzeke.

HET STRIJKKWARTET’ was given a prominent place at the opening of the summer art exhibition. The work was on display at the Verbeke Foundation during the whole summer.

The city of Turnhout offered Theater Stap an extra building on loan for the next 25 years.

The new locality is situated at a stone’s throw of the theatre in Brugstraat and offers the possibility to work with several smaller groups at the same time. The building was however in a bad state. Stap started a crowdfunding campaign for the necessary renovations, which turned out to be a huge success.


In the fall of 2017, ‘TYTGAT CHOCOLAT’ was broadcast on national tv network ‘één’. For the coming years, it will remain the standard for what is possible with mentally disabled actors. One million viewers watched a top series, which was awarded the prize for ‘Best European International Fiction Series’. We especially like to remember that the viewers enjoyed the heart warming story. And that our own actors, who indisputably acted the main roles , were on an equal footing with the big stars of the Flemish theatre.

In December, shooting started of ‘DE TERUGKEER VAN SOOI DINGEMANS’, a lowbudget film, produced by Theater Stap. For this project we cooperated with crewmembers fresh from school. Actors were sought in our surroundings, and of course in Theater Stap. The final cut took a long time because of the restricted budget.

Start of the rehearsals of ‘DE WERELD’ . Paul Verrept was asked to write a sequel to ‘De Bank’. Luc Nuyens and Frank Dierens got to work with the Stap actors. First night in 2018.

Six Stap actors took part in the theatre performance ‘WAAR DE STER BLEEF STILLE STAAN’, by company Het Groote Hoofd. Together with professional as well as amateur actors they rehearsed and performed in de Warande.

‘To Belong’ toured again in Belgium, Great Britain and Korea.

‘We doen het zelf wel’ toured in Belgium and France.

‘Downside Up’ was shown at several shortfilmfestivals and was broadcast on Canvas. By this time the film had already received 15 international filmawards.


Dance remains of permanent interest. Ivan Fatjo Chaves did practice and Koen De Preter made ‘TO BELONG’ with nine Stap actors. The nine became very close during the rehearsals, suffering together when physical boundaries were being investigated, but also enjoying themselves with the humour of the performance. This group loyalty was the challenge, the basis of the performance and the foremost condition to be able to talk about solidarity and connecting people.

The performance shunned the traditional theatre approach, but it touched and delighted through the interconnected sequence of movements, based on the way the Stap actors actually move and which gave them the opportunity to express themselves fully. The music helped to create a rhytmically strong and varied build up.

In 2016 the production was staged in Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany, and it would be played up to 2019.

The Dutch-Flemish company Wunderbaum has been developing its own idiosyncratic way of making theatre for fifteen years. Social commitment is fundamental in their search. In ‘WE DOEN HET ZELF WEL’ (‘We ‘ll do it on our own’) a Dutch mentally disabled actress initially acted an important part. For the Flemish tour Stap’s Hazina Kenis replaced her. Hazina shone during De Zomer van Antwerpen. A small tour followed.

DOWNSIDE UP’, a film by Peter Ghesquière and A-Team productions was selected for the Louvain shortfilmfestival. Theater Stap advised in the writing of the script, the casting, the recording and the final cut, and was for this cooperation mentioned as executive producer.

The story is as simple as it’s daring. In a world where (almost) everyone has Down syndrome, a boy is born who is ‘different’. Flemish actor Nico Sturm played the ‘normal’ boy. A boy who wants to be part of his world, but is marginalized because of his deficient chromosome, as a result of which he can string his own shoelaces.

‘Normality turned upside down. A beautiful fairy tale. Stunningly beautiful.’ were some of the press comments. At its first night at the festival, the film won the audience award and the Humo Award.

After an initial performance at the No Limits Festival in Berlin, Hans Mortelmans (Tibaldus en andere hoeren) continued working on ‘A STRANGE PLAY’ with Luc Loots. With Luc off and on stage in short actions alternately with and without props, Luc and Hans created an absurd and funny performance about an actor falling asleep on stage. Luc is phenomenal in his handling of time and space. ‘A Strange Play’ was performed for the first time in Belgium at festival ‘De Schreeuw’ in April 2016.

‘WIJ OOK’ toured again and ‘BRAAKLAND’ was performed at the Malta Festival in Poznan (Poland).


A milestone for the company was the shooting of ‘TYTGAT CHOCOLAT’. In the spring of 2015: rehearsals and costumes. In the summer: busily recording. We filmed for almost half a year. Beside the Stap actors - the leading roles and most prominent participants - the serial had a cast of first rate Flemish actors, such as Jan Decleir and Wim Opbrouck. The series was planned for broadcast in 2017.

First night of ‘DE BANK’. The play was very well received. Directors and actors Luc Nuyens, Frank Dierens and musician David Bovée were also on stage, but it were nevertheless the Stap actors who got most of the credit. All of them had their own moment to express their individuality. Together they formed a colourful pageant in the life of Jerome, the man on the  bench. ‘De Bank’ was selected by the childrens’ jury for Het Theaterfestival.

Our cooperation with ‘Tibaldus en andere Hoeren’ had its own dynamics. ‘4:3’ was invited to several festivals in Germany. ‘Paard: een Opera’ (‘Horse: an opera’) was recaptured in Berlin. Hans Mortelmans created ‘A STRANGE PLAY’, a solo for Luc Loots which would have its Belgian premiere in April 2016.

In the autumn first night of ‘WIJ OOK’, a cooperation with Het Gevolg. Stijn Van de Wiel wrote and directed a play for Stap actor Jason Van Laere and Marjan De Schutter. ‘Wij ook’ was a performance about the loss of one’s father, about friendship, caring and cuddling and the search for love and harmony.

Gitte Wens got the part of Lientje in the popular Flemish soap ‘FAMILIE’ and was thus able to act alongside her idol, Jacky Lafon.

‘KASPAR’, ‘ZWALUWZANG and ‘HONGER!’ toured again.


In 2013 An De Donder had cast fourteen actors and started working on the story of Kaspar Hauser.

All the actors play the same part: a present day Kaspar, who, because he’s ‘different’, looks bewildered at the world, trying to understand and connect with it by imitating other people’s behaviour. An De Donder, as actress, is their counterpart who, representing the outside world, challenges Kaspar. ‘KASPAR’ grew into a performance about captivity and freedom, stale logic and the richly coloured charm of imagination, about exclusion and inclusion and the struggle for one’s own place for all those who diverge from the norm(al).

Stap actor Jelle Palmaerts was asked by theatre company ‘DEFDEF’ for a part in ‘HONGER!’ (‘Hunger!’). Arnaud Deflem wrote and directed the play, together with Heidi De Feyter. ‘Honger’ had its first night in October 2014. Jelle was outstanding and showed himself on an equal footing with the other three actors.

In July and August Theater Stap organized the second edition of ‘ZONDIGE ZONDAGEN’. Six artists composed their own program of literature, film, live music which had inspired them: Liesa Van der Aa, Guido Belcanto, Stefan Perceval, Stef Aerts, Mauro Pawlosvski and Reinhilde Decleir were this year’s guests, all of them unique and strong personalities, with all of whom Theater Stap has a connection. All of them again invited a kindred musician.

This year Marc Bryssinck decided to concentrate exclusively on writing – together with Filip Lenearts - a TV series with the Stap actors. ‘Chocolat Tytgat’ was to be a roadmovie, a true love story of two mentally disabled people. Nienke Reehorst took over from Marc as artistic director from the summer of 2014 till the end of 2015.

Recapture of ‘Brilleman’, ‘Zwaluwzang/a Swallow Song’, ‘4:3’ and ‘De Gebroeders’


Choreographer Joke Laureyns asked Jason Van Laere for a small dance performance for youth audiences: ‘ZWALUWZANG/A SWALLOW SONG’, which had its first night at the Krokusfestival in Hasselt. Austrian dancer Martin Tomas co-created and danced. He was later replaced on stage by Kwint Manshoven. Jason and he danced the story of two people on the road. Their simplicity on stage proved to be a fascinating experience for the audiences.

In the fall, first night of ‘PIA MADRE’, a coproduction with De Kolonie MT. Actor and theatre maker Karel Tuytschaever met the wonderfully inspiring world of Theater Stap. Flemish author Elvis Peeters wrote a Pia Madre songcycle and Bo Spaenc an original score for five musicians and actress Liesa Van der Aa.

‘Pia Madre’ will stay in our collective memory as the one with the stuffed sheep, the beautiful costumes and the omnipresent music, the heart rending pieta’s at the end, but also as the one that started falteringly, and the one which initially threatened to derail but was succesfully and with a lot of commitment on all sides, put back on rail.

TV4 broadcast ‘MET MAN EN MACHT’ (‘With might and main’), a tv series in which Stap actress Els Laenen acted the considerable and beautiful role of Mieke Van Den Abbeele.

The Dutch movie ‘HET BOMBARDEMENT’ had its first night in December 2012. Jelle Palmaerts was Herman. The film had a run in the filmtheatres in 2013.

Recapture of the productions Alice, Geen Wonder dat ik Ween, 4:3, Airshow, Brilleman, Braakland and De Gebroeders.


Start of the renovation of our theatrical facilities: theatre, rehearsal space, atelier and more storage space.

First night of ‘ALICE’, the third cooperation with Kaaiman, directed by Bart Van Gyseghem. Three Stap actresses enacted the part of Alice, each showing another aspect of her personality. Five Kaaiman actors incarnated Alice’s wonderworld. The central question for Bart after reading the book was: ‘Why does anyone go along with complete strangers? And, how far do you go into the ‘unknown?’. A question typical for adolescents, as is well known, but also recognizable for Stap actors.

Recording of ‘LORD OF THE FLIES’, Filip Lenaerts’ and Marc Bryssinck’s script for what had to be the first part of a thrilling tv series with the Stap actors.

For ‘Turnhout 2012’ Stap organized the ‘ZONDIGE ZONDAGEN’ (‘Sinful Sundays’). Eight theatre people with roots in De Kempen, got each their own evening to tell the audience about their motivation, their inspiration, their dreams, their theatre career, priorities and much, much more. Each of them selected his or her favourite text, film and music fragments. Each evening there was also a live performance by a ‘kindred’ muscial guest.

First night of ‘BRILLEMAN’ (‘The spectacle guy’), with a cast of exclusively Stap actors. The theme ‘dementia’ had pressed itself for some time on the organisation. Director Marc Bryssinck, with the help of several choreographers, reflected on the ageing of some of the actors. In popular speech ‘kinds’ (‘childish’) and ‘kinderlijk’ (‘childlike’) are very much linked.

Start of the rehearsals of ‘4:3’ with a cast of nine Stap actors and the artistic core group of the Ghent based company ‘Tibaldus en andere hoeren’.

Casting for ‘PIA MADRE’, directed by Enzo Toma, a cooperation with De Kolonie MT. The first night was planned for September 2013.


First performance of ‘GEEN WONDER DAT IK WEEN’ (‘No wonder I cry’), based on Steinbeck’s ‘Of Mice and Men’. For the second cooperation with Kaaiman (youth theatre at Turnhout), director Jeroen Op De Beeck worked with five Stap actors and four Kaaiman youngsters. The production revolved around the themes of fundamental loneliness as opposed to unconditional friendship. The play toured in 2011 and 2012.

The working process of ‘MOEDERLAND’ (‘Motherland’) is cut short. It was based on Bruce Chatwin’s ‘Songlines’ in which the aboriginals are portrayed as ‘a singing community’. But artistically, the process turned out not to be entirely satisfying and so this adventure ended prematurely.

Tour of ‘Poppemie’ and ‘Le Bare’.


First night of ‘POPPEMIE’, directed by Heidi De Feyter who completed her studies at Fontys Hogeschool, Academy for Dramatic Arts in Tilburg, with this performance. Five Stap actors and four youth actors from Kaaiman, reflected on relations, dreams about the future and especially: the wish for children. The performance had a succesful tour in Flanders.

Two of Stap’s actors figured in ‘JEVGENI ONEGIN’ by the Flemish Opera, as the second, who’s is trusted as an innocent and fair witness, at Jevgeni’s fateful duel, where he kills his best friend. Performances in Antwerp and Ghent.

EN WAAR DE STER BLEEF STILLE STAAN’ was selected for ‘La Quinzance des réalisateurs’ in Cannes. The three leading actors, Peter, Jelle and Paul travelled to Cannes. Afterwards the film was shown in theatres all over the world.

LE BARE’ (‘The Stick’) was staged in Antwerp and Turnhout. The performance enjoyed success with a large audience and sent the viewers home as smiling owners of the wonderful pink stick.

Tour of ‘Hendrik 4’ in Flanders.


Shooting of the film ‘EN WAAR DE STER BLEEF STILLE STAAN’ (‘Little baby Jesus of Flandr’). Gust Van Den Berghe asked Theater Stap to support him with his final project at the Rits film school. A crew of some 20 Rits’ students chose Stap as their basis (and hotel). Except for two, all the actors in the film were mentally disabled. A number of local institutions were asked to provide figurants. The tribulations of the three Magi, their different characters and reactions to circumstances are not in themselves a great story, but the film focused on the black and white poetry of winter landscapes and especially on the performances of the mentally disabled actors. Gust was thus able to finish his study summa cum laude and the film won a wildcard for the Louvain film festival.

First night of ‘THEATER STAP AIRSHOW’. Just before summer the film ‘STERVEN EN LEVEN VAN JAN DEVROEY’ (Life and Death of Jan Devroey’) was finished and shown to a local audience. Every evening this film closed the ‘Airshow’: a mix of theatrical interventions, playback performances and the pilots Nico and Hugo’s stand up comedy. The live set of the ‘Elvis Contribution Band’ made the audiences swing as mad. The performances of the Stap actors always succeeded in bringing them in exactly the right mood.

First night of ‘HENDRIK 4’ (‘Henry the Fourth’), with 9 Stap actors, 3 musicians and actors Dominique Van Malder, Joris Hessels, Herwig Illegems and Isabelle Van Hecke. Most innovative about this production was the decision to keep almost the entire text of Pirandello’s play, a decision both applauded and maligned.

‘Black Wrap’ and Tu’tu toured again.


Opening night 'BLACK WRAP' Theater Stap chooses to work with five passionate artists from different disciplines and biotopes, of whom three are blind. Everything starts from their interpretation of ‘limitation’. Coach Luc Nys has been a driving force in the theatre world for decades, is the founder of Nova Zembla, and from his experience with ‘Victoria De Luxe’ he is ideally placed to lead this project.

OSKAR’, a cooperation with Theater Froe Froe, was a performance for children from 9 upwards. Oskar was a role of Stap actor Peter Janssens. Because his father is too busy earning money with his business, Oscar lives in adreamworld of his own, inhabited by rabbits. Unfortunately, rabbits turn out to  be also the main ingredient of the pasta his father is selling with increasing succes. Only one ingredient is still missing for the big deal,  the rabbit Oskar is protecting. A clash is inevitable, but proves cathartic for both of them.



Theater Stap is nominated for the Culture Award Flanders, division Youth Theatre.

Opening performance of 'MYTH' Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui incorporates two Stap-performers in the extensive cast for his latest production for Het Toneelhuis. Marc Wagemans and Ann Dockx contributed well to the intensive rehearsal process and are raring to go on another international tour.

Opening night of 'NAAR ANDORRA' Marc Bryssinck is directing. An engaged show in which text and movement and the use of video images (of a study tour to Auschwitz) fade seamlessly into each other with sixteen Stap-actors on stage. A performance that blows a hole in the myth of our own identity and takes us along on the roller coaster of prejudices, stigmas and collective insanity. We find ourselves qualified to tell a little something about this. Our companions found themselves on the wrong train as well a half a century ago.


Kathleen Frison participates to 'VOLK', a play by Het Toneelhuis directed by Josse De Pauw. Lotte van den Berg is in charge of directing the extras, including Kathleen.

Opening night of 'DONKISJOT' In a co-production with Het Toneelhuis, Theater Stap is talking to a number of musicians that are doing remarkable things. Don Quichot is a monument, an icon, bigger than life, and at the same time recognisable and vulnerable, a man after our own heart. Don Quichots fascination for the heraldry of the wandering knight is greeted with howls of derision by his surroundings. He finds himself outside his timeframe with his ideals of beauty. He knows this only too well. He realises that you even have to be a little crazy to undertake something like that, but he'd rather be an eccentric loner who lives for whatever entrances him than be an adapted individual without passion, without a story. It is the first time that Theater Stap is working without a director, the process is being made collectively.

Opening night of 'ROM, Sarina and the puppets of love' Together with Theater FroeFroe, Theater Stap is making a spectacle in a tent and on location, based on the silent film by Tod Browning "The Unknown". It turns out to be an exciting and beautiful confrontation of the performers of Stap and the puppets of FroeFroe.

Opening night of 'TU'TU' Daphne Laquière puts a show for toddlers together with three Stapperformers. Bo Spaenc is in charge of music.


Opening performance of 'FRANKENSTEIN'. Vital Schraenen adapted this classic from world literature with stap-players in a confrontation with able-bodied actor Koen Monserez. At Stap we are looking for the essence and the power of this myth. The public is faced with bloody reality and is left behind with questions about science that can arouse life and about who is the monster in all this and who isn't. This production is a co production with live musicians of 'I solisti del Vento'.

Premier of 'PUUR/IK LIEF' The documentary "Ik Lief", in which Lies Van Assche in 2001 worked with a number of stap-players, is inserted in the theatre performance of PUUR/IK LIEF. Two able-bodied actors bring love poems by people with a mental handicap in a touching dialogue with pictures from the documentary.


First night of ‘ROBERTO ZUCCO’. The production was described by the press as a ‘rigorous reading’ of the original Koltès’ play.’ Desolation and a sense of loss were tangible on stage. The artistic design underlined this even more. The physicality of the Stap actors and their surprisingly sure handling of the text, gave the performance unexpected multiple layers of meaning.

Luc Perceval made adapt the play ‘MACBETH’ by Gerardjan Rijnders. The production was a radical reinterpretation of the Shakespeare play, focusing on the couple Macbeth and Lady Macbeth as a kind of Adam and Eve who are unable to have children and seek compensation in a remorseless lust for power. For this pitchblack play, the Bourla venue was rebuilt into a ‘snake’s pit’. In his début, Guy Dirken was matchless as the porter. Seven other Stap actors appeared by turns as the foreboding witches.

Theater Stap cooperated with the Breda based theatre company ‘Het Slot’ on ‘DE STORM’. Based on ‘The Tempest’, director Hanna Buda’s intention was to make a pure and visually exciting performance with a mixed cast. Inspiration was mainly sought in works of art. For this production, Paul Mertens, a mentally disabled guestactor was casted, alongside some of the Stap actors. In december there were a number of performances in Breda and Merksplas.

Luc Loots was asked for a part in ‘BRAAKLAND’ by Compagnie Dakar, directed by Lotte van den Berg, in cooperation with Jetse Batelaan. Luc was one more of our actors who temporarily broke away. Theater Stap’s task was again to support and emancipate.

In this year we took leave of a number of our pioneering actors, who had been working at Stap for 20 years: Kristien Van Roy, Agnes Fleerackers and Kris Hufkens.

In 2004 the international tours of ‘Foi’ and ‘Tempus Fugit’ continued. Marc Wagemans was still one of the dancers in these Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui productions (Les Ballets C. de la B.).


Start of the rehearsals of ‘HENDRIK V’. For two months the entire group worked on this project, assisted by Joost Leroy. Shakespeare’s text was reworked and made into a performance for children by Ignace Cornelissen. The first goal of this production wasn’t artistic ambition, more important were group dynamics and good vibrations. The performance was afterwards performed a few times for audiences.

Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui had been impressed by the Stap actors. He recognized qualities such as loyalty, transparancy, workethics, etc. He was also genuinely impressed by some of the actors’ physical intelligence. Marc Wagemans especially, had for him such a great potential and personality as a dancer that he was more than willing to cast him in his next production: ‘FOI’, at Les Ballets la B.

FOI’ was a performance with 11 dancers and 7 musicians of Capella Flamenca. The play list would send Marc on an intercontinental adventure. It was a stimulating process for everyone involved. Our challenge was to accompany Marc as respectfully as possible.

Eight Stap actors started working on ‘ROBERTO ZUCCO’. The premiere in the evening circuit was  planned for January 2004. Two directors cooperated in this production: Mieja Hollevoet and Radomira Dostal. A complementary couple; whereas Radomira had most experience in ‘visual’ theatre, Mieja concentrates foremost on texts and a dramatic approach. Bernard-Marie Koltès’ ‘Roberto Zucco’ is essentially a brutal, hard and tragic play, but full of dark humour. Roberto Zucco is an ‘outcast’ and in that respect this performance linked up with ‘Woyzeck’. Roberto Zucco is restless. Actors and audiences were again, as in ‘Woyzeck’, confronted with absurd, physical violence and manslaughter. Humour had to keep the tragedy  digestable.


First night of ‘OOK’, a dance production, directed by Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, dancer and choreographer at Les Ballets C. de la B., and Nienke Reehorst, dancer at Ultima Vez. They worked for a year with 10 Stap actors. Never before were our actors put so much to the test physically. It proved to be a hit. The production was unanimously praised and was received by the international dance scene with great interest. The Stap actors convinced as dancers: concentrated, boundlessly happy, autonomous.

A daring, energetic performance, with a lot of humour and many touching scenes.

‘FRIETMAKERIJ BERGHMANS’ was one of the highlights of De Zomer van Antwerpen. Well over 8000 spectators visited the open days of this unique family enterprise. Groups of 30 visitors at a time were guided through the chips factory, from field to consumer.

‘Frietmakerij Berghmans’ was an initiative of Theater Stap and Aksident.

DE OPGEZETTE VOGEL, previously released in 1996, was reworked and put on stage again. The video-theatreproduction has as its theme ‘ageing’. A few years later the performance got new layers of meaning because the original video images froze the actors in time.

First night of ‘ERGENS STAAT ER NU EEN IGLO LEEG’. Within a short span of time, two young Dutch theatre makers, Lotte van den Berg en Jetse Batelaan directed a performance with seven actors. The inspiration came from Beckett, the Bible and a novel by T. Lindgren about people on zero point.

Gradually a metaphor came into being: what happens when six black people and and an inuit meet in a Western designer reception area? A performance about humility. A creation story. Wayward and unruly, it aroused the interest of the arts centres, and a Flemish tour was shortly afterwards followed by a Dutch one.


Theater Stap's subsidy was considerably raised by the Department of Culture.

First night of 'WOYZECK'. Director Marc Bryssinck. The entire troupe acts in this version of Büchner's classic play. The musicality of Büchner's fragmented manuscript formed the basis for this musical production with music and sounds live performed by the actors. Several new actors convinced and touched the audiences by their interpretation of their characters.

Lies Van Assche, already well known from a previous co-operation as costume designer and scenographer, made a drama-documentary about 'love and mental handicap': IK LIEF. Interviews were mixed with surreal shots of well known love scenes from 'Titanic' 'Grease' and other movies.


First night of 'TWEE SPROKEN', a production for children, director An De Donder. This diptych consisted of 'The Blue Gnokkel', a fairy tale by Fernand Auwera, and the Pied Piper of Hamelin. Together with An, eleven Stap-actors perform this quest for identity and a place for the individual. The production was performed more than seventy times, and was Stap's second successful children's production.

First night of 'DE MEEUW VAN TSJEKKOF'. Directed by Gretl Van Ourti, twelve actors tackle Checkov's classic play. The numerous personages, so typical for Checkov, perform his well known themes of unfulfilled and all together unattainable love, the dreams, the wishes, the longings and the resignation. A production that was well received both in the evening and school performances.

First night of 'BROERE'. A play about blood ties and desperate attempts to push back frontiers. Two Stap actors together with two other young actors Stijn Van Opstal and Wouter Hendrickx on stage, or rather on a revolving platform. with Sam Sheppard as a main source of inspiration. Besides the design of, amongst others ecological designer Stef Van Eyck, the mixed cast, for the first time got the full approval of press and audience.


We're working hard but it's again not visible.


First night of 'ANDERZIJDS AAN DE OVERKANT', a video drama (production) with six actors. Director Inge Floré. In the video ten people are shown living harmoniously together. One of them leaves, and three more follow his example. On stage the six remaining persons try to cope, in silence, with this broken harmony. No dialogues, only emotion and room for questions and suppositions. An intimate production about farewell and loss.

First night of 'DRACULA', with six actors, director Marc Bryssinck. Bram Stoker's bloodsucking figure reincarnated in a seemingly innocent husband and father. A play with two faces. In the first part hilarious scenes abound, in the second a grim pervert for ever closes the eyes of a young saleswoman.


First night of 'VLEUGELS EN RODE SOKKEN'. Director An Verbelen. A dance and movement production with seven actors. Physical training is stressed in the rehearsals. The plot is driven onwards by the movement patterns. A merry production with a completely new rhythm because of the music, movement and lighting.


First night of 'DE OPGEZETTE VOGEL', a video-drama production, based on a short story by Luigi Pirandello, with three actors and a small rabbit. Director Marc Bryssinck. A touching story of the fearful man who forsakes life, grows lonely and dies embittered. A production that was unanimously praised for its dramatic coherence and acting performances, as well as for the balance between video and theatre.

Theater Stap moved to a new building on the canal in Turnhout, with a theatre for 95 spectators, a rehearsal room and storage capacity.

First night of 'OP ZOEK', a musical production for small children, with one actress and two musicians. Directed by Erik Wouters. Again a very outspokenly visual production with sound objects, simple and playful and perfectly suited to its small spectators.

First night of 'ELEKTRA', with fourteen actors, three female singers and three vacuum cleaners. Director Erik Wouters. The actors in bathing costumes are asked to leave aside immediately their playing and carousing and to play 'Elektra'. At first they react rather unwillingly, a people protesting against injustice and misery. This idiosyncratic version of Euripides' play enhanced the actors' comic talent.


 'TANGO', in a revised form ('TANGO 95'), was performed in Slovakia.


First night of 'MEDEA', based on Euripides' play with six actors and two guest actors. Director Erik Wouters. As in 'ANTIGONE', the problems of mentally disabled people were cast in a theatrical form: the director (the character Jason) thinks he's in control, but is called back by his mentally disabled actors. 'MEDEA' was a second attempt to work with a mixed cast and again showed how difficult that kind of co-operation and process is.

Theater Stap is subsidized ad nominatum by the Department of the Performing Arts of  the Flemish Ministry of Culture. This means, not only a great enlargement of our financial means, but also a recognition of the artistic merits of the last decade. To receive this annual subvention, a policy plan and an annual report have to be made.

A number of actors of Theater Stap participated in 'DE OPERA', a production of Het Gevolg, director Ignace Cornelissen. The first time actors of Stap were invited to join another company.

First night of 'BAL MASQUE' with a large cast and a didgeridoo player. Director Marc Bryssinck. Camouflaging one's own vulnerability is symbolically represented by the actors wearing masks. A tribunal decides about the fate of a couple that refuses to sustain this masquerade any longer. In the end death and fate get the worst of sex, love and hope.


'MAW' was the first production by a guest director: Marc Bryssinck. The entire troupe and two percussionists were occupied in this production, which certainly introduced a new style. 'MAW' is a rather sombre and grim production about the confusion, absurdity and feeling of powerlessness, arising from the mix of information, entertainment and infotainment with which the media bombard us. Media reactions however were very positive. Some old and dedicated fans felt a bit dazzled and forlorn by the aggressiveness and heightened conflicts on the stage.

Frans Buyens and Lydia Chagoll, two of Flanders' most renowned film directors, turn 'TANGO' into a film. The film 'Tango Tango' was shown at the Berlin Film Festival and won a prize at the Bergamo Film Festival. 'Tango Tango' was frequently broadcast on Belgian national television.


First night of 'TANGO'. Director Erik Wouters. A play about a funeral with unexpected side-effects and complications. Two piano players, playing live tango music, underlined and enhanced the melancholia, the dreams and unfulfilled desires during a funeral rite.  At the same time the play is a burlesque comedy full of a grim sort of humour.


First night of 'ANTIGONE'. Director Erik Wouters. The cast consisted of the regular troupe of actors and four female brass band players. For the first time a production of Stap was based on a story. An idiosyncratic adaptation of Sophocles' play presented Creon as a troubled parent/educator, watching Antigone 'growing up'. The use of symbolism, puppets and a first attempt to present personages on stage, independent from the actors' own personalities, made sure that this was a real break-through in the artistic development of the company.

Day Centre Kasteel is officially recognised. A full-time day care for the actors. The co-operation between Stap and Kasteel presented new possibilities for a fully professional working of the theatre.


We're working hard but it's not visible.


'CODE' is a play about the contrast of the Stap-actors and two professional actors. Directors Erik Wouters and Greet Vissers. The live music (a trademark of Stap by this time) was performed by four singers and a saxophone player. 'CODE' is a quest for codes in rituals, movements, behaviour. Audience and press reactions focused on the poetic sensitivity of this performance, and the simple and relaxed way of acting. The combination with other actors was less positively evaluated. For this production Theater Stap received a subvention from the Department of Arts of the Flemish Ministry.

'Theateratelier Stap' was started half-time. Comparable to a day care centre, fifteen talented mentally disabled people were given the opportunity to busy themselves intensely with theatre.

Theater Stap organised, together with de Warande and Eucrea the 'European Festival for theatre by mentally disabled'. Six companies from Belgium, France, Switzerland and the Netherlands participated. Over 2.600 spectators visited the seven performances and there was extensive media coverage.


‘UNITED ARTISTS’ premiere, a remake of ‘TUSSENBEIDE’ in collaboration with De Nieuwe Muziekgroep (The New Musical Group). The music is performed live by 17 musicians.


First night of 'TUSSENBEIDE', directors Erik Wouters and Greet Vissers. Three musicians and two dancers were added to the regular cast. 'TUSSENBEIDE' is a quest for a universal figurative language, out of the improvisations of the actors and the aesthetics of the ballroom dancers. A new successful tour. In the summer of 1988 'TUSSENBEIDE' is invited for festivals in Paris and Berlin.


First night of the first full evening production ‘STAP SPEELT STAP’ (‘Stap plays Stap’), directed by Erik Wouters. Essence of the performance is the pure presence of the mentally disabled actors on stage. ‘STAP SPEELT STAP’was performed twenty times in Belgium and the Netherlands.

1985 - 1986

Theater Stap becomes autonomous, logistically supported by cultural centre de Warande en subsidized by the Ministery of the Flemish Community, department Youth Work.

A regular group of actors is set up from four institutions in Turnhout.

1984 - 1985

Starting from an artistic approach, director Erik Wouters en musician Flor Verschueren started a theatre project with mentally disabled students in special school De Brem. A first workshop production was enthusiastically received.