The Tip of the Tongue

    06/05  | 20:30
    07/05  | 18:00
    08/05  | 20:30

€ 18 / € 14
1h 10min
EN > FR / NL

Meet the artist after the performance on 7/05

The writer, philosopher, director and performer Pieter De Buysser is creating a performance for the Planetarium. A philanthropist endowed with immense faith in progress and a speech defect undertakes to build a spacecraft. The story traverses a pronounced curve in space-time, a little girl tired of the Messiah and a lost detective who no one is looking for anymore. A portable particle accelerator, whirlpools in the China Sea, a dozen nebulous spirals and a majestic black hole gradually increase the tension… Because, fabulous as they might be, all the elements in this planetary show are inspired by today’s political and scientific reality. The Tip of the Tongue is an exploration of borders for nationalists, a local geography lesson for cosmopolitans and a cosmology lecture for pioneers of a new image of the world.

Text, direction & performance
Pieter De Buysser

Herman Sorgeloos

Full-dome video
Elias Heuninck

Yoerik Roevens

Scientific advice
Kurt Vanhoutte (Universiteit Antwerpen)

Esther Severi

Translation English
Jodie Hruby

Translation French
Anne Vanderschueren

Marie Trincaretto

Subtitling/video collaborators
Jonas Beerts

Financial advice
Roger Christmann

Kunstenfestivaldesarts, Royal Observatory of Belgium

ROBIN (Brussels)

Kunstenfestivaldesarts, Kaaitheater (Brussels), Stiftung Deutsches Technikmuseum Berlin, Théâtre Nanterre-Amandiers (Paris), Archa Theatre (Prague), House on Fire

With the support of
Vlaamse Overheid, VGC, PARS (Performing Astronomy Research Society), Ministère de la Culture et Communication (France), Vlaams Fonds voor de Letteren

Thanks to
Laboratorium & Herculeslab of KASK/School of Arts of University College Ghent, Sophie d’Hoore, Sarah Vanagt

Subtitling with the support of

Performance in Brussels supported by
SABAM for Culture

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The Tip of the Tongue

If you had visited Paris, Barcelona, London, New York or Berlin in 19th century modernity, it is quite probable that on an evening out you might have attended an astronomy performance. It was, increasingly, a time for mass involvement in science. Public demonstrations and lectures in academic venues and observatories, in public spaces, theatres and opera were widely available to urban publics. These events were often combining theatrical modalities with optical instruments, mechanical devices, moving transparent paintings and magic lantern slides. The shows mingled heavenly and earthly concerns, delivering cosmological narratives that also thematized the place of man, progress and technology in a rapidly evolving world. Witnesses frequently insisted on the sense of wonder, an intellectual and emotional state elicited by shows that turned scientific discoveries and technologies into spectacles. As with many other shows of the 19th and early 20th century such as wax museums, panoramas or international exhibitions, the distinction between sensational entertainment and scientific demonstration was often difficult to draw and prompted debates. The appeal of astronomical spectacles did not wane in the 20th century, they merely took new forms when the first dome-shaped projection planetariums began appearing in German cities in the 1920s. The new modern theatres of the stars were greeted with awe and reverence, and to this day they testify to the vivid public appetite for both myth (about age-old constellations) and progress. In these venues audiences engaged with science, technology and the world; modernity negotiated the contradictions of its own times.

The planetarium has been since the 19th century the ultimate spot where mankind maps his relation to the stars and the galaxies. The architecture of the planetarium is developed with a clear purpose: to give shelter to the cohabition of scientific facts and magic fables. The planetarium is one of the rare places where facts and fiction do not bite each other to death, but move forward. In a planetarium you look into an artificial sky, heaven on earth, the inside of a dome or a sphere, and that old theatrical disposition urges the visitor to retell and redetermine his position to the cosmos, which is outrageously real. The way we describe the constellation of the stars mirrors our material relations on earth. But it also works in reverse, that is the power of archaic myths and fables: by redrawing and retelling our cosmological relationships, we might become able also to rearrange our material conditions. Hence this fundamental cosmological speech exercise on “the tip of the tongue”.

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Pieter De Buysser (b. 1972) is a Brussels-based Belgian theatre and film director and writer. He studied philosophy in Antwerp and Paris and since then has been writing fiction and non-fiction, theatre and non-theatre and performs his own work on stage – as a non-clown, speculative realist and transformatador in one. His fables are political, radical, epic and concrete. His works have been invited or commissioned by theatres and festivals such as the Kunstenfestivaldesarts, Kaaitheater (Brussels), Berliner Festspiele, Taipei Festival, Biennale Wiesbaden, New Plays from Europe, Dublin Festival, Melbourne Festival, Baltoscandal Festival, Archa Theatre (Prague), Théâtre de la Bastille (Paris), Fondation Cartier Paris and HAU Hebbel am Ufer (Berlin). For the last couple of years he has travelled extensively throughout Europe and beyond with the play An Anthology of Optimism (with Jacob Wren, 2009) and with his monologues Book Burning (2012) and Landscape with Skiproads (2014). His latest play The After Party, on the legacy of Václav Havel, premiered in March 2017 at Archa Theatre in Prague. His writings have been translated and staged in Polish, French, German, Italian and English. Besides his work for theatre, he has directed four short films: De Intrede, Solar, The Ambassador and You know you’re right. His first novel De Keisnijders was published in 2012 by De Geus in Belgium and was translated into Czech in 2016. Pieter De Buysser received the Emile Zola prize in 1998, the Dwarse Denkers award in 2011 and the Marie Kleine-Gartman Pen in 2012. In 2015, with Thomas Bellinck, he set up a new production company, ROBIN.

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