Jan Lauwers' first feature tells the story of a small community whose members are divided and negative towards each other. Inspired by Greek tragedy, Lauwers created a story about individual human dramas that affect the life of a local community, revealing the workings of human nature by exposing the characters to liminal experiences, for instance death. The film premiered at the Venice Film Festival.
Jan Lauwers (Antwerp, born 1957) is an artist who works in just about every medium. Over the past 30 years, he has become best known for his pioneering work for the stage with Needcompany, which he cofounded in Brussels in 1986. In the course of this period, he has also built up a substantial body of art work, which has been shown at BOZAR (Brussels) and McaM (Shanghai), among other places. From 2009 until 2014, Needcompany was artist-in-residence at the Burgtheater in Vienna. Jan Lauwers was awarded the 'Decoration of Honour in Gold for Services to the Republic of Austria' in 2012. In 2014, he was awarded with the 'Golden Lion Lifetime Achievement Award' at the Venice Biennale. He is the first Belgian to receive this prize in the theatre category.
Lauwers studied painting at the Academy of Art in Ghent. At the end of 1979, he gathered around him a number of people to form the Epigonenensemble. In 1981, this group was transformed into the Epigonentheater zlv collective, which took the theatre world by surprise with its six stage productions. In this way, Lauwers took his place in the movement for radical change in Flemish and European theatre in the early 1980s - which would come to be called the Flemish New Wave - and also made his international breakthrough. Epigonentheater zlv presented direct, concrete, highly visual theatre that used music and language as structuring elements.
Jan Lauwers needs company. He founded Needcompany along with Grace Ellen Barkey in 1986. Together they are responsible for Needcompany's larger-scale productions. The group of performers Lauwers and Barkey have put together over the years is quite unique in its versatility. Since Needcompany was founded, both its work and its performers have been markedly international. And since that time, every production has been performed in several languages. Its first productions were still highly visual, but in subsequent productions the storyline and the main theme gained in importance. His work has been labelled as post-dramatic, and for the last few years he has been redefining this term. Among its most important characteristics are transparent, 'thinking' acting, and the paradox between 'acting' and 'performing'.