Rouge décanté (Sunken Red)

by Jeroen Brouwers

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The 2006 archive

Guy Cassiers


Rouge décanté © Christophe Raynaud de Lage / Festival d'Avignon


Guy Cassiers has been spending his life in theatres in the Netherlands and Belgian Flanders since the beginning of the 1990s. He puts on shows with a team of actors, plastic artists and stage designers in unlikely venues. He started out with a passion for drawing and lithography, and his theatre is worked with the tools of an engraver, manufacturing images with the help of new technologies such as video, trying to capture the spectator's senses as well as their minds. He prefers to work with adaptations of literature rather than purely dramatic texts and has staged works by Marguerite Duras, Marcel Proust and Salman Rushdie for example. Rouge Décanté is a faithful adaptation of a novel by the Dutch writer Jeroen Brouwers (Prix Femina Etranger 1995). This production is the third monologue in a four-part series on memory. He worked on it closely with the famous stage and cinema actor Dirk Roofthooft, who works regularly with Guy Cassiers and also with Jan Fabre, who directed him in two monologues in the Avignon Festival 2005. Guy Cassiers, until recently directed the Ro Theater in Rotterdam, and has been named artistic director of the Het Toneelhuist theatre in Antwerp which he plans to share with an artists' collective.

Rouge Décanté (Sunken Red) is a deeply moving monologue adapted from the autobiography of the same name written by Jeroen Brouwers, telling the story of the two years he spent with his mother and his grandmother in Indonesia in a Japanese prison camp at Tjideng (now Jakarta) where Dutch citizens were interned between 1943 and 1945. This tale is told by a man who was once the five-year-old boy who, at the age of forty, learns that his estranged mother has passed away. Her death plunges him deep into his memories and gives rise to a constant movement of thoughts between the past in the camp and the present. He spares no details, even the most terrifying ones about the barbaric things done by the Japanese, the so-called ‘lackeys of death', even about what was irretrievably destroyed afterwards in the relationship between mother and son, in the relationship between this man and women, and about the permanent daily fear which paralyses the author.
Actor Dirk Roofthooft drags us into the maze of the hero's thoughts and feelings, so that we can hear all the words of this soul-bearing, of this voyage into the depths of a suffering man. The story is all the more touching given the author's gift of observation and conciseness, to the point that we are enchanted and compelled to keep up with the writer's own quest. With great modesty, the actor shows us the quintessence of pain around which this man has built himself, this man who is unable to distance himself from the child in the camp, and who continues to haunt him.
On stage the tension is extreme and reinforced by an exemplary use of video images and subtle work on sound. This is not historical theatre requiring exactness or objectivity, it is theatre about living and obsessive memory with the evident partiality of a victim and eye-witness. It is seen from the height of a child of five years who was also able to laugh and to play in the middle of hell.
Jean-François Perrier


adaptation : Guy Cassiers, Dirk Roofthooft, Corien Baart
mise en scène : Guy Cassiers
avec : Dirk Roofthooft
dramaturgie : Erwin Jans
décor, vidéo et lumières : Peter Missotten (de Filmfabriek)
décor sonore : Diederik de Cock
réalisation vidéo : Arjen Klerkx
costumes : Katelijne Damen
accessoires : Myriam Van Gucht
assistant à la mise en scène : Hanneke Wolthof


Coproduction : Toneelhuis (Anvers), Ro Theater (Rotterdam)
avec le soutien : des autorités flamandes
avec l'aide de : l'Ambassade du Royaume des Pays-Bas

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