Needcompany lifts the lid
Tom Rummens - DE MORGEN (15 November 2002)

In Needlapb, Jan Lauwers and the members of his Needcompany willingly give the audience a glimpse into the simmering pots in their artistic kitchen. And they turned out to be brim-full. Needlapb? The 'need' from Needcompany, the 'lab' from laboratory, we understood that soon enough. But where does that 'lap' come from? Dogged as we are, we went in search of the answer to this pressing question. And the answer was astonishingly simple. Because 'lap' derives simply from the Flemish expression 'geef er een lap op' ['give it a good bash']. This immediately indicates the atmosphere of the evening: it had to come across as casual, and the ice that normally separates the actors and audience had to be broken. And it worked. The company itself is the focus of this project. This is made clear by the fact that at the start all the participants pose as if in a family portrait. On the other hand, what follows makes it abundantly clear that the company is not simply a single block. In Needlapb everyone gets the space to do their thing. Lauwers himself stays mainly in the background. He plucks at a guitar a little, welcomes the audience, helps pass round the cocktails to celebrate the company's fifteenth anniversary, mumbles an unexpected 'thanks for coming' to an astonished member of the audience, and announces the acts. These acts were pretty varied and referred to a whole series of different disciplines. From Lauwers' own cold, hard short film C-Song, in which two fathers let their children fight each other until one of them doesn't get up anymore, to a song in which the actor Hans Petter Dahl wonders what would happen if the actors and the audience were to change places. From The Unauthorized Portrait, the humorous trailer for a film portrait of Lauwers by Nico Leunen, to a live video experiment by the United-C collective. And then there were still the writings of Anneke Bonnema, some of which she read herself, with a lo-fi version of Sinead O'Connor's Nothing Compares 2 U in the background. Lastly, one of the absolute high points of this episodic evening was undoubtedly the reading by Viviane De Muynck. She read a piece that the American writer Charles Mee had actually written specially for the Needcompany actress and dancer Carlotta Sagna in the next large-scale production No Comment. In this production, four actresses who have played an important part in the history of the company will perform a monologue, written specially for them by four writers. De Muynck proved brilliantly that all a powerful actress needs to make an impression on an audience is a good script. It was with no less brilliance that Needcompany proved that the try-out format is by no means a vain occupation.

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