Billy's Violence
© Jan Lauwers

Text based on the 13 tragedies of William Shakespeare
Adaptation Erwin Jans, Jan Lauwers, Victor Lauwers
Direction, set, concept Jan Lauwers
With Nao Albet, Grace Ellen Barkey, Gonzalo Cunill, Irene Escolar, Romy Louise Lauwers, Victor Lauwers, Juan Navarro, Maarten Seghers
Music Maarten Seghers
Dramaturgy Erwin Jans, Elke Janssens, Victor Lauwers

Production Needcompany
Co-production Festival Grec de Barcelona, Teatre Nacional de Catalunya (Barcelona)
Produced with the support of the Tax Shelter of the Belgian Federal Government and the Flemish Government

Shakespeare is the most read and performed writer the world has ever known. And yet many of the bard’s plays are virtually unperformable due to their violence, gruesomeness, racism and misogyny. Quentin Tarantino is a choirboy by comparison to the sheer brutality evoked by Shakespeare. What does violence in art mean in today’s world? Why do we enjoy watching it so much? Is violence viewed differently today than it was in the 16th-17th century?

In Billy’s Violence, Shakespeare’s 13 tragedies are explored and rewritten to create a new story. Shakespeare’s violence: the impossible fifth act of King Lear, Caesar’s gruesome death, the brutality of Titus Andronicus, and so on. Is this gratuitous, entertaining, necessary or impossible? 

 

Jan Lauwers: "Shakespeare wanted an audience in his theatre, but on the street in London there were dog fights, people being tortured, women being burnt on the squares, and public executions. These were large-scale festivities that brought many people together on the street, and Shakespeare was obliged to use baits such as sex and violence to attract the public to his theatre. This is absolutely fascinating. It is not dissimilar to Quentin Tarantino. Is it gratuitous or is it necessary? I am increasingly convinced that we need to find a different way of thinking which shows that all people are against violence. We think that everyone is bad, but that’s not true. The majority is not violent, and there is enormous solidarity. If we look back at the past, and when I do that I always come up against Shakespeare’s tragedies, then there is perhaps something to be found."

Victor Lauwers: "Shakespeare continues to be a relevant dramatist, and with Hamlet, for example, has created one of the seminal characters in Western literature. The prince who is torn asunder by fate is a figure who tries to purify himself but who does not know which way to turn. When he finally commits the act which he believes has been imposed upon him by a ghost from the past, the young man perishes together with his family. Where the psychological landscape of inner conflict ends and the downfall of mankind begins is a question with an answer. Tragedy seems not to exist without action. The horror of inertia is the inability to die: For in that sleep of death, what dreams may come, when we have shuffled off this mortal coil? But the story has to end..."

Erwin Jans: "When the curtain falls on Shakespeare’s tragedies, order is restored. Over a mountain of corpses, peace and balance once more descend. In what precedes this – the play – a departure from all moral rules is staged, a deep rent in the social fabric, an excess of aggression and violence. Is this excess only required to more convincingly demonstrate the need for the law? Or does the violence contain its own insight? Its own truth? And what might that be?"

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Text based on the 13 tragedies of William Shakespeare
Adaptation Erwin Jans, Jan Lauwers, Victor Lauwers
Direction, set, concept Jan Lauwers
With Nao Albet, Grace Ellen Barkey, Gonzalo Cunill, Irene Escolar, Romy Louise Lauwers, Victor Lauwers, Juan Navarro, Maarten Seghers
Music Maarten Seghers
Dramaturgy Erwin Jans, Elke Janssens, Victor Lauwers

Production Needcompany
Co-production Festival Grec de Barcelona, Teatre Nacional de Catalunya (Barcelona)
Produced with the support of the Tax Shelter of the Belgian Federal Government and the Flemish Government

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