L'Histoire des larmes

by Jan Fabre

  • Dance
  • Theatre
  • Music
  • Show
The 2005 archive

Jan Fabre

Belgium / Created in 2005

L'Histoire des larmes © Christophe Raynaud de Lage / Festival d'Avignon


A world utterly at the mercy of the power of theatrical imagination is what Jan Fabre has been advocating since C'est du Théâtre Comme Il Etait à Espérer et à Prévoir (1982) and Le Pouvoir des Folies Théâtrales (1984). Those were the first of his pieces to draw attention with their flouting of stage convention. It's a kind of Theatre of Rebellion (As Long as the World Needs a Warrior's Soul, 2000), influenced by his training in plastic arts and his practical experience of performance art, simultaneously bringing to the stage a time related to materials of the painter, as well as that related to human beings or animals (Parrots and Guinea Pigs, 2002). However, everything is created out of the body and its language. The physical body in Sweet Temptations (1991), spiritual in Universal Copyrights 1&9 (1995) and erotic in Glowing Icons (1997). This body, that has memory and fundamental instincts similar to those of animals, is endowed with the almost magical power of metamorphosis. That is why he likes to describe his actors as "warriors of beauty", drawn into the enormity of images and dreams. Nonetheless, over and above excess, and often with humour or irony, Jan Fabre manifests a profound affection towards humankind and its weaknesses. In all these years entirely devoted to his art, a protean body of work which includes sculptures and installations, text and stage-production – more than thirty pieces to date - Jan Fabre, from the workshop to the tangible work, from the studio to the stage, has pursued the feverish quest of his visions. In his work, people are defined by their impulses, from the place where their beauty lies, in their bodies, their pleasure, from ecstasy to agony, from subservience to revolt. From his monologues (Elle Etait et Elle Est, Même, Etant Donnés) or personal solos custom-designed for his performers (Quando l'Uomo Principale è Una Donna, L'Ange de la Mort) to his flamboyant group pieces, the approach of this "man who measures clouds", preserves a flavour of childhood and games. Relying on his intuition, Jan Fabre works relentlessly on the plasticity of bodies, seeking to pour them into a poetic mould and create new horizons. Jan Fabre has already presented a number of pieces at the Avignon Festival, Das Glas im Kopf wird vom Glas in 1988, My Movements are Alone Like Street-Dogs in 2000, Je Suis Sang in the Courtyard of Honour in the Pope's Palace as well as an installation, Umbraculum in 2001 and L'Ange de la Mort in 2004.

Jan Fabre learnt to look at faces like one looks at a landscape or at a space. If, as in his view, physical gestures are subject to time and wear, what of tears and their meaning, their eloquence ? In the same vein, in the intimacy of silence and of affection, the artist from Antwerp re-bonds with a deep-seated feeling, the need for consolation. Why do we always cry after the event and not before ? Since the beginning of the 1990s, he's been trying to capture this fleeting mood, between visible and invisible, sketching with his own tears, and as if he were a researcher, he has categorized them according to their source: - pain, joy or loneliness. Everywhere life's energy flows is a vast field of observation and of creation for Jan Fabre. Tears are the second fluid, after blood, which has attracted the attention of this master alchemist whose work is entirely dedicated to the body and its language. His second living tableau created for the Courtyard of Honour in the Pope's Palace, L'Histoire des Larmes (A Tale of Tears) mixes the history of painting and music in a major on-stage celebration, assembling actors, dancers and musicians. While tears may be represented differently depending on the period, they seem an obvious choice for this purifying ritual which is also at the centre of the artist's work. This study of fluids has another meaning, another colour. It sparkles. The tears work with light, dig a void. A work of transparency or of a calming fire, Jan Fabre as plastician artist possesses all the keys that enable him to show us that crying is another way of seeing, hearing and speaking, in order to rediscover the pathway and the spirituality of tears.


text, scenography, choreography : Jan Fabre
music : Eric Sleichim
actors, dancers, musiciens : Linda Adami, Marcel Andriessen, Aldo Aranda, Vicente Arlandis, François Beukelaers, Dimitri Brusselmans, Katrien Bruyneel, Annabelle Chambon, Cedric Charron, Anny Czupper, Barbara De Coninck, Gael dePauw, Olivier Dubois, Ivana Jozic, Coraline Lamaison, Ekaterina Levental, Apostolia Papadamaki, Tony Rizzi, Maria Stamenkovic-Herranz, Geert Vaes
French translation : Olivier Taymans
Latin translation : Luc De Coninck
dramaturg : Miet Martens
assistant : Renée Copraij
lighting : Jan Dekeyser, Jan Fabre
costumes : Daphne Kitschen, Jan Fabre


Production : troubleyn / Jan Fabre (Anvers)
en coproduction avec : le Festival d'avignon, deSingel (Anvers), Hans Christian Andersen 2005 (Aarhus), muziektheater Amsterdam, Grand théâtre de la ville de Luxembourg, Séoul Arts Center, Blindman (belgique), Cankarjec Dom (Ljubljana)
avec l'aide du : Programme culture 2000 de l'Union Européenne
avec la participation du : muziektheater Transparant pour la musique
Texte français publié par : L'Arche éditeur (juillet 2005)

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