Take The Floor


27/05 – 20:00
28/05 – 20:00
29/05 – 20:00
30/05 – 18:00

Michel François is creating a theatre piece! The renowned Belgian visual artist has been given an unambiguous commission by the Kunstenfestivaldesarts to devise a piece to match the scale of the grand theatre at KVS. With the involvement of his daughter, the young actress Léone François, the artist intends to literally “put on stage” the theatrical ritual and all the practical, technical and architectural elements involved. Taking a candid look and with boundless energy, he fills the theatre’s space, exploding all its codes and turning what is left into a show in which the actors and audience, light and sound, stalls and stage keep reversing their roles. Everything is there, but everything has been shifted and rearranged differently. Forget all that you thought you knew about theatre: brazenly frustrating expectations, this new work offers an unusual experience and disrupts our way of looking at things.

By & with
Michel François, Léone François

Sylvain Courbois, Colline Libon

Guillaume Désanges

Technical director & lighting
Philippe Baste

Christophe Rault

Artistic collaboration
Ann Veronica Janssens

Ravit Bechor

Production assistant
Vera Andeweg

Technical assistant
Gaspar Schelck

Kunstenfestivaldesarts, KVS


Fondation d’entreprise Hermès, in the framework of the New Settings programme

A new version of this piece will be presented in November 2015 at Théâtre de la Cité Internationale (Paris) in the framework of the New Settings programme

With the support of
Fédération Wallonie-Bruxelles

Performance supported by
Xavier Hufkens (Brussels)

Back to top

Asked to devise a project for the stage, sculptor, video maker and photographer Michel François decided to involve his daughter Léone, a young actor, in the creation of this show-performance.

The starting point, which motivates the appearance of the events seen on stage, intends to be “executed” rather than commented on.

On the surface of it, Take The Floor is an experimental show about sculpture or rather a show of sculpture. About the possibility of it (or its resistance to) being dramatised. About an image’s stirring capacity to suddenly appear out of the material. To do this, the show plays on interactions between bodies, personal stories, objects and materials, and the theatre itself becomes the tool and the material for producing these events, these sculptural actions. Out of a collection of materials and devices, summoned on stage or already there, comes a sort of plastic symphony that plays on the tensions between the animate and inanimate, control and improvisation, order and chaos, oral narration and silent material.

Things happen that involve time: ice cubes melt, material is divided up, water runs, plaster sets, daylight gives way to darkness, actions are repeated, the wheel turns…

At the heart of the project is a network of relationships.

A relationship between a visual artist and an actor, and therefore a confrontation between two disciplines that have two different relationships to space and time. What is theatrical about sculpture? What is sculptural about theatre? In a playground can you have a game whose rules differ from the game for which the playground was designed? What types of “synaesthetic” relationships (the shift from one sense to another) exist between two fields of creation?

A relationship that blends reciprocal desire, incomprehension and curiosity. Generally, the two protagonists engage in a dialogue on the basis that it is a shared “game”, and you might wonder at times who is the more mature: the older man or the younger woman.

A relationship between a father and his daughter. This more biographical part of the show involves a process of transmission, even though it is contingent and indirect. Each “actor” has a double on stage who acts simultaneously, slowing down the processes, provoking parallel and complementary situations or repeating events that have taken place.

The title of the show Take The Floor literally means taking over the space, but also speaking in a debate, in a logic of the baton being passed in a relay race. In fact, Michel François, whose father was a painter and whose mother was a dancer, says he chose sculpture as a “middle course between dancing and painting”, starting out in theatre and then opting for something that he thought would give him more freedom. Meanwhile, as a child, Léone was the reluctant subject and model of her parents’ art forms, manipulating the works while being manipulated by them, and she has chosen theatre as the place for creating her own forms.

In Take The Floor, the theatre stage is the place for showing and making public this network of relationships. The dynamic and gliding space in which a baton is passed between disciplines and generations. A story of interconnected skills being confronted on a stage that has meanwhile become a sort of open and spontaneous experimental workshop.

Theatre versus sculpture. The liberal arts of the stage pitted against the more servile art of painters and sculptors. What is meant by theatre is the minimum conditions of a given space, time and audience. What is meant by sculpture is the minimum conditions of a changing material. With that as the starting point, the stage is a common place to be shared by two disciplines, by two protagonists, by Michel and Léone François who each follow their plan while regularly interacting so as to be crystallised in a succession of images. Perhaps for Michel it is about using theatre as a plastic material. Perhaps for Léone it is about using sculptural material as a dramatic prop. Or vice versa.

However, beneath the appearance of fun and exhilaration, beneath the appearance of a formal procedure between sorcerer’s apprentices who are transforming a stage into an open workshop, there is fairly certainly a profound and secret relationship to pointlessness in this project. The pointlessness of theatre (this superficial mechanism that is devoid of content), the pointlessness of passing time (passing the artistic baton between a father and his daughter), the pointlessness of objects and materials that disintegrate and consume each other until they disappear, the pointlessness of pretences disturbing perceptions. As if, through these games of role and joyful experiences a muted solemnity is produced, immediately counterbalanced by the fascinating power of the image.

Back to top

Belgian artist Michel François (1956) was born in Sint-Truiden. Using sculpture, photography, video and installations, Michel François takes on, shakes up and questions a reality through which he has become something of a nomad for some time. From real life, Michel François takes, re-frames and repositions fragments, zooms in on situations, fixes moments that, when highlighted, translate the subjectivity of man and determine his singularity and irreducibility into schemas and uniform models. Michel François’s deeply playful, poetic and generous view turns the immediate environment into an exotic and sensual show in which the acting and surprise, but also the solemnity and incongruity, reveal the depth and density of mankind. In keeping with his “channel-hopping” way of looking at things, Michel François also works on staging the object by reformulating the relationship between the work and the exhibition, making the relationships between art and reality more dynamic. His exhibitions include Documenta IX, Kassel, 1992; Palais des Beaux-Arts de Bruxelles, 1992; 22nd Sao Paulo Biennale, 1994; Witte De With, Rotterdam, 1997; Kunsthalle in Berne, 1999; Venice Biennale 1999; Haus der Kunst, Munich, 2000; Art Pace Foundation, San Antonio, Texas, 2004; SMAK, Ghent, 2009; Institut d’art contemporain, Villeurbanne, 2010; Mac’s Grand Hornu, 2012; CRAC, Sète, 2012; and IKON Birmingham 2014. He has also collaborated on several occasions with the choreographers Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker and Pierre Droulers. He teaches at the École Nationale des Beaux-Arts in Paris.

After gaining a masters in drama from the Institut des Arts de Diffusion in Louvain-la-Neuve, Léone François Janssens now expands her activities to include working alongside her father on a show where their different disciplines meet. Formerly an assistant at the La Fabrique Imaginaire company alongside Ève Bonfanti and Yves Hundstad on the creations Tragédie Comique, Café du Port and Bonheur in 2013, she has extended her work as a theatre actor to performance and film by way of television. Currently writing a dissertation on the “Theatricality of Art”, she accepts that she is an actor who has always been involved in visual art. In her writing and directing, she questions the plasticity of the script and is interested in language and spaces that are basically created by investing notions of “je” and “jeu”, I and acting. She has appeared in theatre productions such as Sam Shepard’s Curse of the Starving Class directed by Mireille Cherbonnier, 2008; Juan Mayorga’s Hamelindirected by Luc Van Grunderbeek, 2010; Ingmar Bergman’s Scenes from a Marriage directed by Michel Wright, 2011; Jean Racine’s Phèdredirected by Itsik Elbaz, 2012; Go to bed young dreamer, a new work by XavierLukomski, 2013; and Nuit d’été by Jean Michel d’Hoop, 2014. Film performances include the lead female role in the feature film Lone Wolf made by Axel de Ville and Sebastien de Buyl, 2012; the short films Washing Time and Synthèse by Julien Courivaud, 2013; I Am a Secret, a shortfilm by Coline Grando (festival Nikon), 2013; Baby Balloon, a feature filmby Stefan Liberki, 2013; and on TV the role of Eva in the series Typique for RTBF, 2011-2014.

Back to top