Le Roi du plagiat

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The 2005 archive

Jan Fabre

Belgium / Created in 2005

Le Roi du plagiat © DR


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.

Repetition, rehearsals, here those are key, whether in theatre or in history, showing how humankind's gestures are reproduced incessantly. Dirk Roofthooft, an actor par excellence, (he has worked with the greatest artists in Belgium, also in television and cinema), plays on that. He looks, walks and speaks like an angel but he does not want to be one. He absolutely wants to change, to become a man, one of those "chattering monkeys" who make so much noise, who want to do this or that, but are unable. He's tired of immortality, he's interested in time and wears several watches, top designer makes. Who is he ? Jan Fabre, the author of this monologue, defines him as the words unfold. This is the second part of a diptych - played by the same actor, and created several years later - for a clown-like character who continues a contemplation, with irony and fun, of the position of the artist. In this play, Jan Fabre specifically examines the issue of what is genuine and original in art. Le Roi du Plagiat (The King of Plagiarism) is nothing more than this clown, probably the one from the first part, L'Empereur de la Perte, who has become an angel who dreams of becoming a human-being to be able to bungle things again. The character on stage speaks in a strange language that seems to be composed of run-on quotes from Shakespeare, The Beatles , The Doors, Goethe or John Wayne. In order to attain this new state, to build a temple, to form a brain and a new body, he brings four stones with him, four "Stein", (stone in German): - Frankenstein (medicine and invention of artificial intelligence), Gertrude Stein (writing), Wittgenstein (philosophy), Einstein (science). Stones for research, for becoming a imitator. But will he succeed ?


Text, direction, scenography : Jan Fabre
Cast : Dirk Roofthooft
Traduction : Olivier Taymans
Dramaturg : Miet Martens
Assistant : Coraline Lamaison
Lighting : Harry Cole, Jan Fabre
Costume : Ingrid Vanhove
Assistant scenography : Mieke Windey


Production : Troubleyn / Jan Fabre (Anvers)
En coproduction avec : deSingel (Anvers), Festival d'Avignon, Bonlieu - Scène nationale d'Annecy, Espace Malraux - Scène nationale de Chambéry et de la Savoie, Comédie de Valence - Centre dramatique national Drôme Ardèche avec le soutien de la Région Rhône-Alpes
Texte français publié : par L'Arche éditeur (juillet 2005)

© photo Marc Enguerand

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