Isabella's Room

  • Theatre
  • Dance
  • Music
  • Show
The 2004 archive

Jan Lauwers / Needcompany

Belgium / Created in 2004

Isabella's Room © DR


Jan Lauwers conceives his direct and visual staging as works of art forming part of the artistic renewal that began in Flanders in the early 1980s. He founded the Needcompany in 1985, and turned to fragmented, meaningful and transparent plays where violence and love, eroticism and death hang together in a permanent back and forth motion between acting and non-acting. After exploring deliberately brutal choreographic theatre which culminated in Snakesong Trilogy (1994-1998) where Jan Lauwers sought to “exaggerate, because the truth can be very boring”, he changed the tone of his work. Utopia and illness, lies and intimacy, frank and desperate humour (Morning Song, 1999; Images of Affection, 2002): the pieces of the Needcompany today wear the colours of gentleness, seriousness, funniness and disconcerting lightness.

La chambre d'Isabella (Isabella's Room)

Ninety-four years old, almost a century. It also happens to be the age of the radiant Isabella Morandi, a blind woman who lives alone in a bed-sit in Paris. Her brain is the focus of a scientific experiment aimed at restoring images to people who have lost their sight. In a room littered with thousands of paternal archeological items from eons past, Isabella dreams of Africa where she can discover the secret of her father, call herself “princess of the desert”, unravel the story of her wanderings and her passions, her lovers and her children, in the mirror of her past. Written by Jan Lauwers when his own father died, this epic and musical piece was born out of the emotions he felt when he discoverd the unusual collection of small statues and uncountable talismans that he inherited. A Jaka Mask, an 1800s knife made to slide into the garter of women adventurers, an Egyptian slave's libation vessel made to catch the tears of the pharoahs... each dream-like object encapsules a part of the legends of the centuries. Acted, danced and sung by nine actor-dancers, including the great actress Viviane de Muynck, the new opus by the Needcompany is the most moving in its history.


direction, scenography and lighting : Jan Lauwers
cast : Anneke Bonnema, Hans Petter Dahl, Julien Faure, Benoît Gob, Ludde Hagberg, Tijen Lawton, Viviane de Muynck, Louise Peterhoff, Maarten Seghers
text : Jan Lauwers
the monologue of the lyer is written by : Anneke Bonnema
music : Hans Petter Dahl, Maarten Seghers
costumes : Lot Lemm
sound : Dré Schneider
dramaturg : Erwin Jans
assistant director : Elke Janssen


production : Needcompany (Bruxelles)
coproduction : Festival d'Avignon, Théâtre de la Ville (Paris),
Théâtre Garonne-Toulouse, La Rose des vents - Scène nationale de Villeneuve d'Asq, Octobre en Normandie, Brooklyn Academy of Music New York, welt in basel theaterfestival
avec la collaboration : du Kaaitheater (Bruxelles) et la Commission Communautaire flamande de la Région Bruxelles-Capitale
avec la participation : du ministère de la Communauté flamande et de la Loterie nationale belge

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