In God We Trust

3.8.10/05 > 20:30
4/05 > 15:00
9/05 > 22:00
Fr > Ondertiteling: Nl

“I'm amazed. I'm amazed that there is such misunderstanding of what our country is about, that people would hate us. I am, I am – like most Americans, I just can't believe it. Because I know how good we are, and we've go to do a better job of making our case”, said Bush Jr, President of the United States.

In God We Trust is a title inspired by that inviolable creed printed on every American dollar bill. Transquinquennal, the Brussels collective of French-speaking actors, is using contemporary American authors to seek out and reveal those little secrets where truth and (good) conscience have been fabricated.


Raphaëlle Blancherie, Bernard Breuse, Miguel Decleire, Francesco Mormino, Stéphane Olivier, Nathalie Willame

In collaboration with:

François Jooris, Julie Petit-Etienne, Céline Renchon, Catherine Sommers, l'équipe du Théâtre Les Tanneurs


La fièvre - Wallace Shawn (translation: Bernard Breuse)

Quadrille albanais - Mac Wellman (translation: Daniel Loayza)




Théâtre Les Tanneurs* (Bruxelles/Brussel), La Ferme du Buisson - Scène nationale de Marne-la-Vallée*, KunstenFESTIVALdesArts, Festival international des Théâtres Francophones en Limousin

Supported by:

Communauté française Wallonie-Bruxelles, service du Théâtre


Théâtre Les Tanneurs, KunstenFESTIVALdesArts

* Transquinquennal is in residence at Théâtre les Tanneurs (Bruxelles/Brussel) & la Ferme du Buisson (Marne-La-Vallée

Thanks to:

Daniel Loayza, Vanja d'Alcantara, Adel Boughezala, Speculoos, Dito'Dito, Ilir et Anila Suleimani, Xhevat Abazi, Haki Rugova, Jean-Michel-Vovk, Guy Decleire & Teresa Escudero, Milena Depelsenaire, Xavier Lukomski, Christophe Colomb & Leif Erikson

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The project In God We Trust was created three years ago, when we were looking for contemporary foreign texts and we asked ourselves the following question: “Which is the most exotic for us Europeans? Eastern Papua New Guinea? Amazonia? The Tyrol?” Finally, the least obvious but in fact the most honest answer was: “That which we most resemble!” We turned of course to the Americans.

But who are these Americans who write plays?
Basically we know the ‘classics’ or ‘naturalists’ (Arthur Miller, Tennessee Williams, David Mamet or Sam Shepard) or those who write for the cinema or who act. But who are the others? Do they exist?

We began to investigate and we found them but, strangely no one here in Europe pays them much attention. There are then people in the United States who write plays and only plays! And writing plays is not the same as writing film scripts!

The first of our discoveries was Wallace Shawn

He earns a living as a character actor, with appearances in Louis Malle’s Vanya on 42nd Street, in several Woody Allen films and series like Star Trek. This has enabled him to subsidise writing his plays, which in their content and form have nothing in common with his day job.

Shawn offers a different view of America, allows a more forceful opinion to be heard than that which we are used to.

The Fever is a curious play.

To say that it is only a monologue would be misleading. Although the narrator becomes aware of aspects of his personal life that he had never imagined, we are kept in the dark as to details of the character’s age, gender or individual characteristics. Through discomforting memories and an internal struggle, we are led step by step towards irresolvable guilt.

Then there is Mac Wellman

Mac Wellman challenges with gusto the omnipresence on American stages of plays about “the weeping child within us all”. He lauds theatre that speaks for itself and that is conscious of its means. With it, we are firmly rooted in the here and now, in its ludic and frenzied performances.

In Albanian Softshoe, it’s as if Monty Python were writing with James Joyce after having been with Pinter. Unless it is the other way round. Or the contrary. Or it might well be a ménage à trois.

Wellman leads us where he wants to and narrates American stories with great panache where the use of traditional codes of the genre open out into rather unexpected perspectives. We could for example say that Albanian Softshoe is a soap that explodes into an interstellar road-movie, crossed with Albanian epics. Unless it is the other way round. Or the contrary. Or it might well be a ménage à trois.

Poisonous Tomatoes

By Mac Wellman

The logic of the world and the logic of the theater are the same, but the relation of these is not so simple, it seems to me. Things can happen on stage that do not happen in the "real" world and vice versa. But the logic of events vis-à-vis other events on stage is the same as that of the ordinary reality we inhabit. What is called drama is only the embodiment in gesture and language of this logic, this worldliness. Why, you might ask, is the relation between these two logics a complex one? Kierkegaard said that a direct relation to the deity was the definition of paganism, and he meant by this that the attempt to grasp and seize divinity by the appropriation of a human definition was to create an idol, an unreal apparition that possessed no truth. If we take the world we know as an act of collective imagining, an idol of the modern mind, it becomes apparent that reality as such becomes subject to the same-or a similar-danger: decay of the perceptual process, enactment of an unreal idol reality. The banishment of the real world. In other terms, the thing itself is replaced by successive (repetitive) images of the thing. In American theater this idolatry bears the name of naturalism. Its origin is the same as that of the paganism Kierkegaard wrote of: the desire to subsume all human experience under labels, definitions, and explanations and therefore to substitute rationalizations for experience. The logic of The Bad Infinity is an attempt to suggest the logic of this decayed act of collective imagining. It is not interesting at this point in human time to portray the real world as it seems to be in its own terms; but it is interesting to unfold, in human terms, the logic of its illogic and so get at the nut of our contemporary human experience. I am a pessimist, but a cheerful one. I believe, along with Beckett and Handke and Witkiewicz, that the depth is on the surface. The inside is on the outside. But we are not less human because our hopes and dreams and wishes are the stuff of advertising slogans and images; that would be to succumb to the repetitions to the idols of ourselves. No, it is simply that our relation to the drama of our lives has become more complex, reflexive, recondite even. It matters who is behind the reassuring voice, the fine gesture, the eloquent phrase about freedom, liberty, and equality. Villains no longer look like villains {did they ever?), nor perhaps do heroes and heroines. We live in a low and contemptible time, a time when ideals are mocked and scorned, when the merely human is expendable, when those in position of official trust have put aside any pretence to disinterestedness and practice openly the grossest kind of self-aggrandizement. Theater, as a minor province of journalism – and that is what the current theater establishment amounts to in my opinion – has accommodated itself to this state of affairs with nary a blush. I do not believe I can change the world much by writing plays, but I can provide a critique of reality, this collective act of imagining. We need a dozen Mark Twains, a score of Bierces, a hundred Menckens to do justice to the times. Those of us involved in this critique of apparent reality cannot expect to convince many, much less can we expect our views to prevail (the) time may be past for all that); all we can expect is to have some fun, share some laughter, and go out with a modicum of self-respect. We must love the truth not because it favors us but because it is the truth.

This statement was presented at the discussion ‘The Logic of the Stage’, organized in conjunction with a production of The Bad Infinity by the Brass Tacks Theatre of Minneapolis in May 1985.

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