Proust 1, 2, 3 & 4

Théâtre National

Proust 1, 2, 3, 4

Théâtre National de la Communauté française

NL > subtitles : FR

Proust 1 : De kant van Swann
24/05 > 20:30
3h00 (avec entracte / met pauze / with an interval)

Proust 2 : De kant van Albertine
25/05 > 20:30
2h00

Proust 3: De kant van Charlus
26/05 > 20:30
3h00 (avec entracte / met pauze / with an interval)

Proust 4: De kant van Marcel
27/05 > 20:30 - 28/05 > 15:00 & 20:30

“The writer’s work is merely a kind of optical instrument that he offers the reader to enable him to discern that which, without this book, he perhaps had not seen in himself.” (Marcel Proust)

Guy Cassiers set off In Remembrance of Things Past, both Proust’s and his own. He made his way through its seven volumes, reading The Proust Screenplay by Harold Pinter and began writing four works for theatre.

With the presentation of Proust 4, an exceptional opportunity is being offered by the festival to see the ro theater’s complete cycle of Proust.

Proust 1 : De kant van Swann

Adaptation: Eric de Kuyper, Guy Cassiers, Erwin Jans

With : Jacqueline Blom (Mother of Marcel + Mme. Verdurin), Marc De Corte (Dr. Percepied), Herman Gilis (Swann), Marlies Heuer (Odette), Joop Keesmaat (Father of Marcel + Baron de Charlus), Paul R. Kooij (Marcel Proust adult), Eelco Smits (Marcel Proust young), Fania Sorel (Gilberte)

Musical performed by: Quatuor Danel – Marc Danel (1st violin), Gilles Millet (2nd violin), Tony Nys (viola), Guy Danel (cello)

Music: Chostakovitch, Kurtàg, Webern, Stravinsky, Debussy, Ravel & Raskatov

Set Design: Marc Warning

Technical Production: Dennis van Geest, Sidney van Geest, Arjen Klerkx, Wim Bechtold, John Thijssen

Coordination Quatuor Danel: Catherine Lemeunier

Production management: Yvo Greweldinger, Bram de Ronde

Thanks to: Koninklijk Kabinet van Schilderijen Mauritshuis Den Haag, Dien van der Wildt, Meneer C. Luybé, S Print St Niklaas, Oliva, Het muziek Lod.

Proust 2 : De kant van Albertine

Adaptation: Eric de Kuyper, Guy Cassiers, Erwin Jans

With: Paul R. Kooij (Marcel Proust adult), Eelco Smits (Marcel Proust young), Marlies Heuer (Albertine, Andrée, grandmother), Fania Sorel (Albertine)

Technical Production: Diederik de Cock, Hein van Leeuwen, Jaap Toet, John Thijssen

Production management: Yvo Greweldinger, Jellie Schippers, Bram de Ronde

Thanks to: S Print St NiklaasCoproduction: KunstenFESTIVALdesArts

Proust 3: De kant van Charlus

Adaptation : Eric de Kuyper, Guy Cassiers, Erwin Jans

With : Katelijne Damen (Mme de Villeparisis), Marlies Heuer (Mme de Guermantes), Joop Keesmaat (Baron de Charlus), Paul R. Kooij (Marcel Proust adult), Eelco Smits (Marcel Proust young), Fania Sorel (Reine de Naples, Gilberte), Tom Van Bauwel (Robert de Saint-Loup), Steven Van Watermeulen (Bloch, Jupien, Morel)

Singing : Rotterdams Jongenskoor o.l.v. Geert van den Dungen

Hosts salon De Villeparisis: Mimi Bezooijen, Skip Seesing, Debbie Korper, Ditha van der Linden, Gert Jochems, Tibor Lukács, Cees Geel, Esther Scheldwacht, Jacqueline Blom, Erik Bosman, Rebecca Wörmann

Camera: Marc Redmeijer

Final processing: Rob Das

Set dressing: Esther Viersen

Technical Production: Sidney van Geest, Arjen Klerkx, Dennis van Geest, John Bouwer, Axel Dikkers, Wim Bechtold, John Thijssen

Production management: Yvo Greweldinger, Jellie Schippers, Bram de Ronde

Supervision music: Wim Selles

Video Concept: Marc Warning, Kantoor voor Bewegend Beeld

Video: Kantoor voor Bewegend Beeld (Eelko Ferwerda, Jasper Wessels)

Soundset : Diederik De Cock

Thanks to: Roger van Zaal, Marike Hoogveld, Babette v/d Berg, René v/d Berg, Schiecentrale, Firma Ground Zero, Gerda Knuivers, Liesbeth le Cessie, de begeleidende ouders van het Rotterdams Jongenskoor

Coproduction : Wiener Festwochen, KunstenFESTIVALdesArts

Proust 4: De kant van Marcel

Adaptation: Guy Cassiers, Erwin Jans

Translation fragments from A la recherche du temps perdu : Céline Linssen

With : Marlies Heuer (Céleste sr.), Paul R. Kooij (Proust), Eelco Smits (Marcel), Fania Sorel (Céleste jr.)

Assistant script adaptation: Margo de Poel

Technical Production: Diederik De Cock, Jos Koedood, Hein van Leeuwen, Jaap Toet, John Thijssen

Props: Myriam van Gucht

Production management: Yvo Greweldinger, Bram de Ronde

Soundset: Diederik De Cock

Coproduction : Berliner Festspiele (Werkpreis Spielzeiteuropa)

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The timeless world of Proust

In her memoirs, Céleste Albaret, Marcel Proust’s housekeeper in his last years, quotes her employer, who once said: "Ah, Céleste, if only I knew for sure that I can do as much with my books as dad did for the ill." Marcel Proust’s father was a distinguished and gifted physician. Did Marcel’s words reflect a moment of doubt about his mission in life?

In an interview, the German philosopher Peter Sloterdijk says that a great writer uses his inner self as an experimental room with toxic substances. Proust contaminates himself with dangerous and complex thoughts, with confusing and dark feelings, with the social contradictions and the political tension of his time, with the modern scientific and esthetical insight, and last but not least, with the emotional hypersensitiveness and the sexual torments that marked his own personality. "The writer is a studio for difficult scores, for rarely played thoughts", Sloterdijk says. Proust used his novel (and as a consequence himself) as such a laboratory.

His novel is a full literary equivalent of the theories of modern physics. The developments in modern science have taught us that all observation is relative: it depends on place, speed and direction. To those three dimensions, a fourth one is added: time. Proust analysed time in a way only very few other writers did: time as a limiting factor, but also time as a way to impassion our minds. Harold Pinter wrote a film plot based on Proust. In his introduction, he talks about two contrasting movements in Proust’s novel: the first movement, mainly narrative, is about the social life in the salons, with their codes and hierarchies, unintelligible to outsiders, and about love, with its delights, its torments and its uncertainty. This movement belongs to the world of time, of decay, pain, death, and leads to disillusions and disappointments. The other movement, more transitory, is about memory and especially about the artistic recreation of it. This movement belongs to a ‘timeless world’, and leads time after time to revelations. Those revelations are not a consequence of woolly romanticism, but of tough and painful work and perseverance, symbolised by the cork covered room. In that sense, In Search of Lost Time is a never ending search. Until a few hours before his death, Proust keeps on making corrections, and nothing indicates that they were intended to be the final ones. Almost a century later, there is no doubt anymore that Proust’s work has had an enormous impact, not only on other writers and artists, but also on many readers.

And that process is still going on. The ro theater has held discussions with the spectators about certain subjects from the novel, from a wide range of perspectives: philosophy, literature, psychology, music, gastronomy and visual arts. Moreover, the ro theater wants to show the visitors how a performance is brought about, how the thinking process takes place, with its many twisting turns, side-roads and blind alleys, how an actor prepares his part and how a designer thinks up a design. Those moments are often the most inspiring ones for the makers. It is a phase where illusion and imagination still have free play. The artists are not yet called a halt by an overstrained producer who cannot have his collaborators work even more overtime, or a financial director who is desperately trying to keep the hole in the budget within bounds. Of course, all that is just part of the theatre-making process: you have to take into account all kinds of material, human and financial restrictions. But let us go back to the illusion. Why should we withhold the public from those moments? Isn’t a theatre performance much clearer when the spectator knows what the makers were thinking of but could never concretise for one reason or another? With the organisation of Proust-salons and the edition of a workbook, containing not only the text but also a description of the thinking process, an attempt was made to show that. Here, again, the whole is more than the sum of the parts.

Ro theater have called the four parts of the project ‘Ways’, following Proust. However, the performances are not about the famous Swann’s way (Du côté de chez Swann) and Guermantes way (Le côté de Guermantes) the two social spheres that played a determining role in the novel. In the performances by the ro theater, ‘the Ways’ are related to the main characters of the novel: Swann, Albertine, Baron the Charlus and Marcel. The different parts of the Proust-series are self-contained stories and can be seen separately.

Proust 1: De kant van Swann (Swann’s way)

InProust 1: De kant van Swann Proust tells about his youth in Combray. His memories take him back to the three women who marked his emotional life as a child: his mother, the love of his youth Gilberte and her mother Odette Swann. He remembers how he waited in vane for his mother to go give him a good night kiss when Monsieur Swann paid them a visit, and how he later met Gilberte and her mother, the beautiful, mysterious Odette Swann. Proust 1 is about the world of the youth memories and the intense emotions that go with those memories. The enlarged faces and the associative, poetical images on the video screen suggest the working of memory. After the interval, the story goes twenty years back in time, to Madame Verdurin’s salon, where Charles Swann and Odette met for the first time. Their tormented love affair is narrated in a tight clair-obscure style. The story is a gloomy portend of what will happen later on in Marcel’s own life.

Proust 2: De kant van Albertine (Albertine’s way)

Proust 2: De kant van Albertine is about the love between Marcel, who has in the mean time become a young adult, and Albertine. Marcel meets her on the beach of Balbec. Little by little their relationship becomes increasingly dominated by jealousy, (self) torment, lies and manipulation. Just like Swann, Marcel is haunted by the idea that his beloved might be lesbian. When Albertine secretly moves in with him, their love further starts to run to seed. Albertine eventually becomes Marcel’s prisoner, and Marcel, in a certain way, hers. A fatal outcome is unavoidable.

Far more than Swann’s way, Albertine’s way is about the intimate, emotional world of two people. To give shape to that complexity and confusion, the characters are doubled. Albertine is played by two actresses, and just like in the first part, there is a young Marcel in the centre of the action, and the old writer, who is watching. In a thin and at the same time depressing atmosphere, the characters wander around like memories of themselves.

Proust 3: De kant van Charlus (Charlus’ way)

Proust 3: De kant van Charlus tells how the leading character, Marcel, finds his way into the world of the Parisian salons. His two guides are the charismatic military man Robert de Saint Loup and the homosexual aristocrat Baron de Charlus. Marcel’s visits to the salons end up in a big disappointment: hypocrisy, superficiality, racism and anti-Semitism seem to determine the manners.

In Proust 3 Guy Cassiers, the director, pulls out all the stops to show a society in moral decay. The stage setting is a stirring of the senses; it is a mosaic of impressions, words and images. The Rotterdams Jongenskoor sings live work by Bach and Poulenc, among others. Whereas Proust 2 is an intimate inner world, the outside world is clearly present in Proust 3, with discussions about the Dreyfus-affair and the devastation caused by World War I.

Proust 4: De kant van Marcel (Marcel’s way)

In Proust 4: Marcel’s way, Proust has retreated into his cork covered room to devote himself to the writing of his book. His only confidante is his housekeeper Céleste Albaret. In their conversations, the banality of daily life alternates with profound observations about remembering and forgetting, about the role of art in the creation of a world that persists in time.

In 1978, Céleste Albaret wrote down her memories of the time she spent with Marcel Proust. They constitute an important point of departure for this fourth part. We step out of the novel, abandon Marcel/Proust’s perspective and look at the man behind the great book through the housekeeper’s eyes. After the impressive social and moral fresco of Proust 3, Proust 4 is again an intimate performance about memory, writing and disappearance.

Erwin Jans

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