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On Sunday, 18 October (6 pm), Chatka Żaka (ul. Radziszewskiego 16) will host the final performance of the 20th Theatrical Confrontations. Jan Lauwers & Needcompany?s The Blind Poet is Lauwers?s latest project created in collaboration with composer Maarten Seghers. Premiering in spring 2015, the piece takes its performers? family trees as a starting point of a new narrative anchored in various nationalities, cultures and languages. Lauwers goes back a thousand years to ponder the notion of identity in today?s multicultural Europe. He quotes the work of Abu al ?ala al Ma?arri, a blind Arab poet working at the turn of the 10th and 11th century, and Wallada bint al Mustakfi, an Andalusian poet from the 11th century. Their writings describes a time in which women held positions of power and atheism was commonplace, when Paris was just a small provincial town and Charlemagne was a famous illiterate.

 

When the mind is uncertain,
It is overwhelmed by the world,
A weak man kissed by a whore.
When the mind has become self-assured,
Then the world is a respectable lady,
Who rejects her lovers? caresses.
(Abu al ?ala al Ma?arri c. 950)

 

The performance will be preceded by a screening of Ana Brzezińska documentary on Needcompany, I want (no) reality (Lublin, Centrum Kultury, 4 pm). More information

 

From the director:

 The idea of ?The Blind Poet? arose when I was visiting the great mosque in Cordoba. In the middle of this unique building with its three hundred columns, the Catholic church knocked down a number of columns and stuck in a cathedral. This cathedral looks small and pretty ridiculous in the middle of the sophisticated ?Moorish? architecture. I stood there looking in astonishment at all this historical bungling. Cordoba was the capital of that world. Between 300,000 and 1 million people lived there. Women held positions of power and translated Plato, and atheism was common. It had several libraries and more than 600,000 books and much more besides. By comparison, the largest city in the Christian world was Paris, with about 30,000 inhabitants. The largest Christian library had 60,000 books and Charlemagne was illiterate. What does this actually mean? Why does history always lie and deceive us? History is written by the victors. By men. By the few who tell the masses what to do. In 11th-century Cordoba women were men?s equals. Islamic women at least. The Christian women found them too bold, too dangerous. This Cordoba story is only one of the many examples of how history comes back to us. ?The Blind Poet? journeys through history via the family tree of all Needcompany?s members. In this way we found that everyone had a link or similarity to everyone else. One of my forefathers was an armourer at the time of Godfrey of Bouillon and went on a crusade with him. They travelled through Germany, where Grace Ellen Barkey?s ancestor received them as a mayor.

 

With God I aim for honour and glory, and proudly go my own way. To my lover I offer my cheeks, and my lips I give to whoever wants them.
Wallada bint al Mustakfi (Cordoba, 1000 AD)

 

How much has the history we know actually been determined by lies, chance encounters and events along the way? History is a tale of strong women who throw stones and end up at the stake. A tale of a crusader in an ill-fitting armour.

Jan Lauwers

 

Needcompany is an artists? company set up by the theatre-maker and artist Jan Lauwers and the choreographer Grace Ellen Barkley in 1986. They form the core of the company, and it embraces all their artistic work: theatre, dance, performance, visual art, writing, etc. Their creations are shown at the most prominent venues at home and abroad. 

 

Text, directing, set design: Jan Lauwers

With: Grace Ellen Barkey, Jules Beckman, Anna Sophie Bonnema, Hans Petter Mel? Dahl, Benoît Gob, Maarten Seghers, Mohamed Toukabri

Music: Maarten Seghers

Costumes: Lot Lemm

Lighting design: Marjolein Demey, Jan Lauwers

Sound: Ditten Lerooij

Assistant to the director & dramaturgy: Elke Janssens

Trainee: Lisaboa Houbrechts

Technical manager: Marjolein Demey, Kurt Bethuyne

Production of the creation: Chris Vanneste
Trainee technicians: Ludovicus Grevendonk, Pablo Pérez Albalaejo

A Needcompany production.
Coproduction: Kunstenfestivaldesarts, KunstFestSpiele Herrenhausen,
FIBA ? Festival Internacional de Buenos Aires, Künstlerhaus Mousonturm.
With the support of the Flemish authorities. 

 

Festival programme

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