texts by Michel de Ghelderode

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The 2014 archive

Josse De Pauw and Jan Kuijken

Gent / Created in 2014

"Le Cavalier bizarre" and "Les Femmes au tombeau" are published in the collection "Théâtre, tome II", by éditions Gallimard. The recording of the Orchestre de l’Opéra de Flandre supervised by Étienne Siebens is available at Studio Acoustic Recordings.
Huis © Christophe Raynaud de Lage


By combining two of Michel de Ghelderode's short plays into a single show, Josse de Pauw attempts a reflection, full of humour and of Belgian “absurdism,” on death. A death that has yet to come, as in The Strange Rider, or that has already struck, as in The Women at the Tomb. Moving from a room in a hospice, where six old men are waiting for a watchman to tell them what he sees, to the house of Marie, Jesus's mother, where are gathered, the day after the crucifixion, the women who followed Jesus, Josse de Pauw aims to make us hear the words of Michel de Ghelderode, to whom he feels closely connected. Together with musician and composer Jan Kuijken, he continues his exploration of a musical theatre in which words and notes meld and merge. Their goal is for the music to offer “an almost physical experience to the public.” Whether they use symphonic music to accompany the old men waiting for death or a women's choir in Marie's house, they want the music to always be a counterpoint to Ghelderode's words, to create a sort of dialogue. There's something of the farce, of the burlesque, of the grotesque even, in Ghelderode's plays, so closely tied to Flemish culture. And there's something of the tragedy, too, when his characters hold a mirror to us, reflecting our anxieties when faced with the realities of ageing and death, and our relative indifference to the tragedies that surround us.

Born to a Flemish family, Michel de Ghelderode grew up with an authoritarian father and a superstitious mother. All his schooling was done in French and it is in that language that in 1918, aged only twenty, he wrote his first play. He developed a baroque form of theatre, in which Flemish influences stood alongside those inherited from Antonin Artaud. He wrote more than fifty plays, a testament to his commitment to a new theatre in which puppets and the concept of masquerade play a central part.

Jean-François Perrier, April 2014


Direction and adaptation Josse De Pauw
Music Jan Kuijken
Recording Orchestre de l'Opéra de Flandre sous la direction de Étienne Siebens
Scenography Herman Sorgeloos
Lighting Enrico Bagnoli
Costumes Greta Goiris
Voice trainer Steve Dugardin
Translation Monique Nagielkopf

With in Le Cavalier bizarre
Stef Cafmeyer, Josse De Pauw, Mark De Proost, Philippe Flachet, Pol Steyaert, Freddy Suy

With in Les Femmes au tombeau
Ruth Becquart, Reinhilde Decleir, Kristien De Proost, Steve Dugardin (song), Lorenza Goos, Blanka Heirman, Ilse Moors, Els Olaerts, Eva Schram, Iris Van Cauwenbergh



Production LOD théâtre musical
Coproduction Les Théâtres de la Ville de Luxembourg, deSingel (Anvers), Opera Vlaanderen, Le Parvis Scène nationale Tarbes-Pyrénées, La Rose des Vents Scène nationale Lille Métropole-Villeneuve d'Ascq, L'Hippodrome (Douai), Le Maillon (Strasbourg), Palais des Beaux-Arts (Charleroi)
With the support of Autorités flamandes

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