The Animals

The Animals is a playful requiem for a dying ecosystem and a failing image of humanity. The performance takes you to the zoo, a performative space where animals are forced to perform their otherness so that humankind can confirm itself – by watching. Zoos engage visitors in an historic ritual of a Western ordering of the world, teaching them to “gaze” at creatures made to be exotic through our imagining wild and faraway places. But in this zoo the boundaries are blurred between who is human and who is animal. In this zoo it is unclear who should perform (for) whom.

“Animals are always the observed. The fact that they can observe us has lost all significance.” (John Berger, Why look at Animals?)

director: Geert Belpaeme / dramaturge: Bauke Lievens / performers: Greet Jacobs & Sophia Bauer / lighting design & scenography: Geert Vanoorlé / sound design: Esther Venrooy / masks: Viktor Leestmans / costume: Valerie Le Roy / technical support: Geeraard Respeel / artistic advice: Mats Van Herreweghe

production: l’hommmm / coproduction: Vooruit

Supported by the Flemish Government, Culture Ghent, Buda, De Grote Post & KAAP

Previously performed at Vooruit (Gent), De Grote Post (Oostende), Buda (Kortrijk), Malpertuis (Tielt), Nona (Mechelen), Tweetakt Festival (Utrecht)

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Please (don’t) let me be (mis)under-stood

With Please (don’t) let me be (mis)understood Geert Belpaeme questions the figure of the clown. Contemporary clowning is often reduced to a game with petrified forms and figures with a matching psychology. A typical example is the tragedy of the crying clown, as a melancholy celebration of the failing man. However, clowning, just like theatre, is a performative practice with a potential to question existing relationships.

In Please (don’t) let me be (mis)understood, Geert Belpaeme wants to return to the core of clowning. It will be a choreographic deconstruction of the figure of the clown in order to explore this rich potential once again. He uses clowning to explore new definitions of what it means to be human: how can we take a less aggressive position in the midst of other organisms, living systems, ecosystems and objects?

But how do you explore that in the theatre, a place defined precisely by the human gaze? How can you perform non-human relationships with a human body? Geert Belpaeme believes that the clowning practice, with its inherent openness to spaces, objects, relationships… offers an opening for just that.

Please (don’t) let me be misunderstood will premiere on the 11th of January 2023 in STUK (Leuven).

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living on the imbalance

What is playing and how does it relate to our authenticity as human beings? Playing supposes that you play a certain ‘role’ within a set of rules. Playing theatre even takes it a step further because there is the glance of a viewer that enters the situation and unbalances it, thus creating a new ‘language’.

Using as a working title Living on the Imbalance Geert Belpaeme is writing an essay that departs from his pedagogical practice at the drama department of KASK / School of Arts in Ghent. There he teaches drama students in there first Bachelor year within a series of abstract improvisation exercises how they can design their presence on a stage. They examine how their presence in a space can in different ways elicit content, meaning or communication. In Living on the Imbalance Geert approaches playing from the perspective of movement. This way he can examine an essence of the performing arts, before there is a text, a character, a choreography, a concept or an idea. Or as Peter Brook describes it at the begining of The empty space: “I can take any empty space and call it a bare stage. A man walks across this empty space whilst someone else is watching him, and this is all that is needed for an act of theatre to be engaged.”

Living on the Imbalance is financed by the research fund of KASK / School of Arts in Ghent.

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Be a Bear – Podcast

In October 2020, The Animals premiered, a performance that takes you to the zoo, a place where people watch animals. After the premiere, the performance went into forced hibernation. But a performance is a living organism that continues to grow, even when it is not played or seen. Be a Bear is the fever dream of a performance in hibernation.

Be a Bear is a Podcast by Geert Belpaeme and Esther Venrooy.

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