The Power of Theatrical Madness
"The Power", is a historical performance, not only in Fabre’s body of work - this production signified his definitive international breakthrough – but it also reveals the end point, where the economy of illusion now finds itself and transcends it. As a key moment in the history of theatrical illusion, Fabre chooses Wagner's impressive creation, "Der Ring des Nibelungen".
At the same time as Fabre evokes this part of theatrical history, he also revives Andersen’s fairy tale, The Emperor's new clothes. With the demonstration of this sublime lie, the ultimate masquerade, Fabre brings a regnum to the stage that is on its last legs. Numerous scenes showcase the splendour and the beauty of the lie.
Fabre creates his own Gesamtkunstwerk, by interweaving an overwhelming number of projected images of the mannerist schools, with musical quotes by composers such as Richard Wagner, Richard Strauss, Othmar Schoeck, Bizet and minimalist music by Wim Mertens. Meanwhile, the stage is dominated by expurgated actions.
It is a remarkably eclectic composition, in which pose, pomposity and mannerism dominate. The pomposity, however, is taken down by the sense of reality on the stage. The duration of real time thus undermines the lie of fiction.
In "The Power of Theatrical Madness", Fabre unfolds the principles of power. With a reference to Foucault, Fabre charts the system of discipline. The actors’ physical endurance is constantly tested to the extreme. But through or maybe due to this violence, the force of a new, contemporary theatre manages to break through. Among the red, gold and velvet of the theatre, that beautiful dream machine, Fabre conceals the fuse of the performance’s real time/real action. The explosion can be heard miles away.
At the beginning of the ’80 Jan Fabre manages to strike a crater in the theatre (of that era).
He succeeds in dealing theatre a sledgehammer blow, from which it will never recover. Both historical pieces, "This is theatre like it was to be expected and to be foreseen" and "The power of Theatrical Madness" have been heralded in various publications throughout the world as milestones in the history of contemporary theatre and dance and as the point of reference for Fabre’s introduction of performance art (real actions, in real time) into theatre.
// Credits //
concept, direction, light, scenography, choreography: Jan Fabre
music: Wim Mertens, Soft Verdict
cast: Ingrid Dalmeyer, Els Deceukelier, Roberto De Jonge, Marion Delforge, Marc Hallemeersch, Peter De Smet, Katinka Maes, Erwin Kokkelkoren, David Riley, Werner Strouven, Wim Vandekeybus, Annamirl Van Der Pluym, Marc Van Overmeir, Paul Vervoort, Philippe Vansweefelt
costumes: Pol Engels, Jan Fabre
technique: Bruno Aertsen, Maart Veldman
production manager: Geert Van Goethem
artistic direction: Tijs Visser
coordination: Hugo De Greef, Ritsaert Ten Cate
production: Projekt 3 (Antwerp), Mickery (Amsterdam), Kaaitheater 85 (Brussels)
co-production Festival De Lille (Lille), Theatre Gerard Philippe (Paris)