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Black Wrap 2008

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Put blinkers on a Brabant cart horse's big head and he will do exactly what he is bred for: to pull the cart to the barn! Aim a bright spotlight at an erotic lady in a tight little number and the audience will forget that the prostitute is parading around a derelict slum. Like rabbits in front of a light box.

'Freedom, doesn't it excist?' the blind man yelled to the crowd in the marketplace. 'Everything is possible, I will show you a thing or two!'. And he broke his cane and ran into the world. The crowd followed him with their eyes, to the end of the horizon, and thought: 'what is happening now?'

Black Wrap is a mixture of theatre, music and dance and it tells of the search for freedom despite mental, social and physical limitations.

'Long live the limitations!' the blind man shouted to the crowd when he appeared at the marketplace three years later, 'I am a master!' With bulging eyes the crowd looked at the man and thought: 'what is happening now?' In limitation a person shows who's master!

Theater Stap made the choice to work with five driven artists from different disciplines and biotopes, of whom three are blind.

timeline

The play opened in february 2008. They played 5 times in Turnhout. Then, the show travelled 6 times. In january and february 2009 they re-opened and played 10 times.

credits

Theater Stap made the choice to work with five driven artists from different disciplines and biotopes, of whom three are blind.

Saïd Garbi - dancer with e.g. 'Ultima Vez' and 'Les Ballets du Grand Maghreb'

Filip Jordens - known for 'Hommage à Brel' and a permanent fixture at e.g. 'het Bad van Marie'

Noémie Schellens - classical soprano with theatre experience

Jempi Vermeulen - actor with e.g. 'het Bad van Marie' and 'Victoria Deluxe'

Sacha Van Loo, musician with e.g. Tcha Limberger

Luk Nys - has been in theatre for decades, is founder of Nova Zembla, and is well placed to run this project from his experiences with 'Victoria Deluxe'

The show runs from 18 February 2008 until 30 April 2008 and will be repeated in the spring of 2009

press

DISARMING VULNARABILITY

De Morgen, March 19th 2008, Wouter Hillaert 2008

Five artist from diverse disciplines share the stage for this little jewel by director Luk Nys, not the regular cast of Theater Stap. Three of them are blind, but most of all they are all mortal. Sad? No. Life with limitation (especially with death itself) is interpreted rather vitalisticly in Black Wrap. Jokes, little dances and songs give this encounter of five such an ease that the stage is turned into a playground, one giant rehearsal of interhuman exploration. Always at the edge of amateurism, things usually not done in the theatre. Sometimes it just looks absurd, like the clumsy acrobatics of Saïd Gharbi with soprano Noémie Schellens, reaching for the heights. But it’s this carelessness that makes Black Wrap so special, so outside the usual points of reference. While ‘wrong’ in a lot of other performances is used ironically or kitschy, here it gives a framework to the vulnerability that stays disarmingly close to the performers. The performance doesn’t grab us because of the blindness of the performers, but because of their childlike desire for life. Like in a Latino memorial service they mourn for what is no more, but most of all they celebrate the countless opportunities of enriching contact and collective liberation that remain. Beautiful, surprising.

Interview by Herman De Winne (I) with Wouter Hillaert (

Transcript of a radio interview on Radio Klara, Tuesday March 11th at 13h15 2008

(...) I: And then what did you see? W: Well, after this opening scene you get a very diverse range of pieces of text. Jempie Vermeulen comes to the forefront and starts reciting the names of different cities, European cities, where he is supposed to have been. Paris keeps coming back. An old sweetheart of his lives there, whom he must have put on a pedestal. Next comes Filip Jordens, who talks about his own laziness, fatigue and that baudelairlike atmosphere comes back in a lot of text fragments, but the emphasis of the performance is mainly on the movement sequences in between. Yes, they try to dance, do gymnastics while this just isn’t where they’re at and this feels like sort of a ... They surrender themselves totally to vulnerability, to their own impotence together. I: And where does this lead to? W: To a surprising, cheerful performance. At certain moments ... You get a kind of playground feel with adults in one-legged cockfights or bumping into each other deliberately or trying to turn cartwheels. And this combination between a kind of darkness in the lines and the luminescence in the images is occasionally contrasted by a great fierceness. Saïd Gharbi for instance runs off with Vermeulen and taking his face in his hands and he suddenly throws him on the ground. These very different atmospheres, tones, it really is a jumble, in the performance, except for maybe just the helplessness they are almost consciously looking for and to which they surrender themselves fully, through which you get a very human show that really touches you and than mostly… I: That is maybe what director Luk Nys tried to do? Because we also have to mention his name. W: Yes, that’s right. That surprised me the most. The last of his performances I saw was about … , about being caught, being in prison. A very sterile show for such a subject, but this really is the opposite. It is a kind of vitality around death, as it can also sometimes be found in South-American funeral processions or a sort of celebration of limitations. There is nothing aesthetic about it, just the opposite. But this huge spontaneity is what makes it so moving. ... It all looks very amateurish, but it isn’t. There is also an intercultural aspect to it, but that isn’t what the show is about. You experience a very generous, warm, without it getting too cosy, performance about human exchanges, how to look head on at our difficult existence with a great belief in collective strength and our own possibilities.