A stage adaptation of Stefan Hertmans’ famous novel War and Turpentine. The author based it on personal experience: his fascination with the life of his grandfather, an amateur painter and a soldier at the front in World War I. The story features excerpts from journals that Hertmans’ grandfather gave to him shortly before he died. Lauwers presents a personal vision of the book, creating an epic tale of violence, the advance of industrialisation, love, sorrow, and happiness.
Jan Lauwers is an artist who works in just about every medium. Over the last thirty years he has become best known for his pioneering work for the stage with Needcompany, which was founded 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 rewarded with the ‘Golden Lion Lifetime Achievement Award’ at the Venice Biennale. He is the first Belgian to receive this prize in the theatre category.
Jan Lauwers studied painting at the Academy of Art in Ghent. At the end of 1979 he gathered round 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 Jan Lauwers took his place in the movement for radical change in Flanders in the early 80s, 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 together with Grace Ellen Barkey. Together they are responsible for Needcompany’s larger-scale productions. The group of performers Jan Lauwers and Grace Ellen Barkey have put together over the years is quite unique in its versatility.
Since Needcompany was founded in 1986, both its work and its performers have been markedly international. And since then, 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. One of its most important characteristics is transparent, ‘thinking’ acting and the paradox between ‘acting’ and ‘performing’.
Directing, set design, stage adaptation: Jan Lauwers
Based on the novel "War and Turpentine" by Stefan Hertmans, published by Harvill Secker
Music: Rombout Willems
Viviane De Muynck
First Sergeant-Major Urbain Joseph Emile Martien - Benoît Gob
The Angel of History - Grace Ellen Barkey
Worker, Soldier, Maria Emelia Ghys - Sarah Lutz
Worker, Soldier, Maria Emelia Martien - Romy Louise Lauwers (replaces Mélissa Guérin)
Worker, Soldier, Relative - Elik Niv
Worker, Soldier, Relative - Maarten Seghers
Worker, Soldier, Relative - Mohamed Toukabri
General, pianist - Alain Franco
Chaplain, cellist - Simon Lenski
Soldier, violinist - George van Dam
All the paintings and drawings are by Benoît Gob
Costumes Lot Lemm
Dramaturgy, subtitling Elke Janssens
Lighting design Ken Hioco
Sound Ditten Lerooij, Dries D’Hondt
Production Management Marjolein Demey
P.U.L.S. Stage Bosse Provoost
Costume Assistant Lieve Meeussen
Fencing Instructor Jacques Cappelle
Trainee Josephine Dapaah
Set Building Toneelhuis
Set Dressing Simon Callens
Logistical Support Irmgard Mertens
Set, lighting Saul Mombaerts, Tijs Michiels
Dramaturgical introduction Erwin Jans
Press Agent Liesbet Waegemans for Panache
Photography Maarten Vanden Abeele
English translation of 'War and Turpentine' by David McKay
Tax Shelter financing:
Casa Kafka Pictures empowered by Belfius
Isabelle Molhant, Valérie Daems, Christel Simons
A Needcompany production. Coproduction: Toneelhuis (Antwerp), Festival de Marseille and Province of West Flanders. Produced with the support of the Belgian Federal Government’s Tax Shelter and the Flemish authorities.