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Director's note: Alexander Devriendt on 'Loopstation' (Ontroerend Goed)

 © Sarah Eechaut

Description

For quite a few years, the theatre shows that I’ve created with Ontroerend Goed have reflected on the patterns that influence our daily lives. Fight Night questioned our democratic electoral behaviour, round after round. £¥€$ charted the cyclical movements of the financial markets, which determine our economical welfare. In Sirens, it was about the seemingly ineradicable sexism around us and in A Game of You, we dealt with the internal processes that construct our identity. With every new show, I want to keep questioning the things that shape our lives. With Loopstation, I want to contemplate the most common and concurrently, most personal patterns that shape our lives: our daily rituals. The idea grew on me, fueled by literature in which I found confirmation of my own personal experience, namely that routines and habits - getting up in the morning, performing daily recurring actions, going to sleep - provide a wonderful sense of peace and satisfaction. Moreover, in a human life, those repeated patterns prevail over big events and momentous changes, which are rather exceptional. It’s remarkable how fiction largely ignores daily routines and leaves them unexamined because they’re deemed uninteresting. Because of this, the desire and necessity to create a show that does enquire into them, that reflects on human beings as self-repeating, looping creatures, only grew stronger.

On the 8th of November 2017, right before the start of rehearsals, my father died. In less than a month, I saw him change from a perfectly healthy man to a dead person. The loss of my father is irrevocable, a loop has broken down. Everything is disrupted. I wanted to create a theatre show about infinitely recurring movements and now I’m confronted with finiteness in the harshest way. For a moment, it’s hard for me to understand why everything carries on, why the world doesn’t stop. The peace and satisfaction of getting up and making my way through life, no longer seem self-evident. Creating a performance about small routines seems the furthest thing from my mind.

Just like everyone who is forced to stand still because of a sweeping life event, I have to get back to normal life eventually and pick up the story. It goes slowly, wearily. No more days in the hospital, but back to the rehearsal space to create another show. The activity seems familiar but feels altogether strange and different. Nothing can be the same again, shouldn’t be the same again, but rediscovering myself in the routines I’ve built up, the trusted paths that I’ve laid down for myself, is comforting.

And then, while I’m struggling with the irreconcilable opposites of repeating loops and the finiteness of death, I remember an encounter I had during the last night of my father’s life. After he passed away, a nurse asked me about his favourite clothes, what he loved to wear most. It was a black T-shirt with a V-neck. She would dress him in it after washing his body. For her, it was a recurring ritual, repeated countless times, every time with the same care but also enough distance to make it bearable. For me, it was an unique event, forever imprinted in my memory. The two things join together in my mind: one person’s life-changing event is part of another person’s recurring loop.

Tickets & info 'Loopstation' on vooruit.be.

Photo by Sarah Eechaut.

Written on 14.03.18