Proust 1: De kant van Swann / Proust 2 : De kant van Albertine

Different locations in the city

Proust 1:
Kaaitheater

11.12/05 > 20:30
Duration: 180’ avec entracte

Proust 2:
Kaaitheaterstudio’s

17.19.20/05 > 20:30
18/05 > 15:00
Nl > Subtitles: Fr

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 is setting off In Remembrance of Things Past, both Proust's and his own. He is making his way through its seven volumes, reading The Proust Screenplay by Harold Pinter and starting to write four works for theatre with Eric De Kuyper. Here are the first two: De kant van Swann and De kant van Albertine.

On stage, the writer; behind a veil, characters that have suddenly emerged from his memory. Projected words with trembling typography, details of images that conceal a world. And the passionate strings of a quartet...

Proust 1: De kant van Swann

Based on:

Marcel Proust, A la recherche du temps perdu

Adaptation:

Eric de Kuyper, Guy Cassiers, Erwin Jans

Translation:

Céline Linssen

Direction:

Guy Cassiers

Dramaturgy:

Erwin Jans

Set Design:

Marc Warning

Costumes Design:

Valentine Kempynck (BELGAT) en collaboration avec/in samenwerking met/in collaboration with Erik Bosman

Lighting design:

Enrico Bagnoli

Video Concept:

Marc Warning, Kantoor voor Bewegend Beeld: Eelko Ferwerda, Jasper Wessels, Vincent van Duin

Video:

Kantoor voor Bewegend Beeld

Play:

Paul R. Kooij (Marcel Proust adulte/volwassen/adult), Eelco Smits (Marcel Proust jeune/jong/young), Joop Keesmaat (Pére de/Vader van/Father of Marcel + Baron de Charlus), Jacqueline Blom (Mère de/Moeder van/Mother of Marcel + Mme. Verdurin), Marc De Corte (Dr. Percepied), Herman Gilis (Swann), Marlies Heuer (Odette), Fania Sorel (Gilberte)

Music:

Quatuor Danel (Marc Danel - première violon/eerste viool/first violin, Gilles Millet - deuxième violon/tweede viool/second violin, Tony Nys - alto/altviool/viola, Guy Danel - violoncelle/cello), joue/speelt/plays Chostakovitch, Kurtàg, Webern, Stravinsky, Debussy, Ravel & Raskatov

Technical Production:

Dennis van Geest, Sidney van Geest, Erik Hillen, Arjen Klerck, John Thijssen (coordination/coördinatie/coordination)

Fabrication costumes:

Karin van der Leeuw, Gerda Knuivers, Sarah Hakkenberg, Roelie Westendorp (coordination/coördinatie/coordination)

Dressing:

Mary-Jane Fernandes

Hairdressing & Make-up:

Cynthia van der Linden (coordination/coördinatie/coordination)

Intern scenography:

Wikke van Houwelingen

Intern Dramaturgy:

Remko Van Damme

Coordination Quatuor Danel:

Catherine Lemeunier

Production:

Irene Pronk, Yvo Greweldinger, Bram de Ronde (coordination/coördinatie/coordination)

Thanks to:

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

Production:

ro theater

Presentation:

Kaaitheater, KunstenFESTIVALdesArts

Proust 2: De kant van Albertine

Based on:

Marcel Proust, A la recherche du temps perdu

Adaptation:

Eric de Kuyper, Guy Cassiers, Erwin Jans

Translation:

Céline Linssen

Direction:

Guy Cassiers

Dramaturgy: Erwin Jans
Set Design:

Marc Warning

Costumes Design:

Valentine Kempynck (BELGAT)

Lighting design:

Enrico Bagnoli

Video:

Kantoor voor Bewegend Beeld: Eelko Ferwerda, Jasper Wessels

Play:

Paul R. Kooij (Marcel Proust adulte/volwassen/adult), Eelco Smits (Marcel Proust jeune/jong/young), Marlies Heuer (Albertine, Andrée, grand-mère/grootmoeder/grandmother), Fania Sorel (Albertine)

Technical Production:

Diederik de Cock, Jos Koedood, Hein van Leeuwen, Jaap Toet, John Thijssen (coordination/coördinatie/coordination)

Fabrication costumes:

Erik Bosman, Karin van der Leeuw, Roelie Westendorp (coordination/coördinatie/coordination)

Hairdressing & Make-up:

Cynthia van der Linden (coordination/coördinatie/coordination)

Production:

Yvo Greweldinger, Jellie Schippers, Bram de Ronde (coordination/coördinatie/coordination)

Thanks to:

S Print St Niklaas

Production:

ro theater (Rotterdam)

Coproduction:

KunstenFESTIVALdesArts

Presentation:

Kaaitheater, KunstenFESTIVALdesArts

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A la recherche du temps perdu: how Proust changed the ro theater

The English author Alain de Botton has written a book called How Proust Can Change Your Life. Marcel Proust has certainly changed the life of the ro theater where director Guy Cassiers is working on the start of a theatrical cycle inspired by the seven volumes of A la recherche du temps perdu. He has adapted it for stage with film-maker and novelist Eric de Kuyper. This vast project will materialise in four different productions spread over three seasons. The productions of Proust 1: du côté de chez Swann and Proust 2: du côté de chez Albertine are taking place this season.

If it is fair to assert that every great work is a genre in itself and therefore unique, then this comment especially applies to Proust’s novel. Indeed it is a novel with several definitions: a panoramic documentary covering the last decades of the 19th century and the first ones of the 20th century, a social satire on snobbery, a comédie humaine in the style of Balzac, the novel of a young man learning to climb the echelons of society, the account of an initiation into love and its countless mirages, jealousies and disappointments, a mystical poem celebrating timeless ecstasies, a scientific encyclopaedia, a study on homosexuality and perversion, an artistic pamphlet and a philosophical writing on time and the functioning of memory. A la recherche du temps perdu is all that and much more besides.

To adapt it for theatre, radical choices had to be made. Some particular aspects were chosen to be emphasised, some characters were reduced or combined. The stage version is concentrated on the people developing at the heart of the novel’s most dramatic episodes: Swann, Odette and their tempestuous love; Madame de Verdurin and the atmosphere in her society salon; Marcel, Albertine and their equally tragic love story; finishing with Baron de Charlus and his dark sexual universe. Through his characters, Proust brings to light the mechanisms determining life both at a social and personal level.

At the same time as there are several themes, motifs and points of view flowing through Proust’s work, also emanating from it is an appeal that is both simple and powerful. One of the chapters in de Botton’s book, ‘How to Open Your Eyes?’, touches at the very heart of what Guy Cassiers wants to take from it. Reflecting on his role as a writer, Proust wrote: “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.”

Proust’s writing is a lens of this kind, allowing people to look at themselves differently. As Guy Cassiers puts it: “The final intention of our production is to stimulate the spectator’s imagination. It will finally find its form in the head of the person watching it. Modern life has made us receptive to a multitude of sensory impressions. People in theatre don’t worry, or at least not enough, about society’s ability to do this. I want to give the audience the option of choosing from an abundance of signs. In theatre we’re always endeavouring to refine everything, to adapt everything for the group. For me Proust isn’t someone who’s trying to make everything converge. Rather he’s trying to show what adapts with difficulty as a fact about human behaviour. I also want to develop that aspect in the stage form of Proust using a number of artistic disciplines.”

A la recherche du temps perdu is the story of the initiation of a young man, Marcel, into the worlds of love, the aristocracy and art. However this initiation into love and passion is transformed into an apprenticeship in jealousy, manipulation and perversion. In it, high society unmasked reveals itself to be hypocritical, indifferent and immoral. Only art is saved in it from dishonour.

In Proust 1: Du côté de chez Swann, Marcel remembers the three women who made a mark on his early years: his mother, the love of his youth, Gilberte, and Odette Swann. Marcel describes how, as a child, he used to wait vainly for the precious maternal kiss at night at the hour that Monsieur Swann was visiting his family, and how he came to know his daughter, Gilberte, and his wife, the beautiful and mysterious Odette Swann. Another character, and a regular visitor to the house, Doctor Percepied is concerned about the failing health of the young Marcel.

The interval takes us back twenty years earlier. We are received into the salon of Madame Verdurin, frequented by Doctor Percepied and Baron de Charlus. Charles Swann and Odette meet for the first time there. In contrast to the freshness of the love that Marcel felt for the women of his youth, it is the maturity of the adult love of Swann and Odette that is recounted here: a love that turns to jealousy and will vanish into indifference.

Proust 2: Du côté de chez Albertine deals with Marcel’s loves and with Albertine whom he sees for the first time on the beach at Balbec, in the midst of a group of young girls. From the outset Marcel is in love with all these girls in bloom before becoming attached to one of them: Albertine. Marcel and Albertine’s love is tarnished by jealousy, lies and deep mistrust. Like Swann, Marcel is tortured by the thought that his beloved might be a lesbian. When Albertine comes to join Marcel in Paris, their love continues to deteriorate and Albertine finally becomes ‘his captive’. More than Proust 1, Proust 2 deals with the intimate emotional universe of two human beings. To render this complexity and confusion, the characters of Marcel and Albertine are each played by two actors, so creating in the production an ethereal atmosphere as much as an oppressive one, where the characters roam like memories of themselves.

Guy Cassiers considers imagination at work as the novel’s main theme: “Imagination is an ambiguous and dual force with Proust. Especially when it concerns an affair of the heart. The first phase of love is projection, fantasy; and imagination creates love, makes it possible. In a later phase, imagination, still at work, destroys love as it now only focuses its powers on jealousy, adultery and everything that spoils and ruins it. Artistic imagination emerges and transcends everything outside time, lifting the story above the failings of existence.”

Following on from Rotjoch, De Wespenfabriek, The Woman Who Walked into Doors and Lava Lounge, Guy Cassiers works with several different media: actors, costumes, theatrical form, the story, live music, video images and the projection of texts. The combination of these media creates an atmosphere where past and present, imagination and memory, alternate endlessly in fade-ins and fade-outs. With Proust, time is not linked to chronology. Marcel Proust is both young and old simultaneously: he is turned towards the future and plunges back into his past. When young he endures the world of adults in silence. As the narrator, he reigns supreme over words. To give concrete expression to this perpetually moving perspective, the character of Proust is played by two actors: young Marcel and Proust the adult writer.

The theatrical and multi-disciplinary form of the two Proust productions creates a space suited to Proust’s language, retaining his strength of expression and evocative power. It is through his words that Proust’s world acquires a presence on stage. Guy Cassiers: “On the power(lessness) of language, Proust’s work is the most extreme example I know: thousands of pages of perfect writing to say that words are not enough.” It is on this border between the two that Guy Cassiers is constructing his production: where words are powerfully present and powerless at the same time, where images compensate for this weakness and, in turn, require words in order to exist.

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