Olympique Dramatique

Olympique Dramatique was founded in 1999 as an autonomous actors’ collective by Tom Dewispelaere, Ben Segers, Stijn Van Opstal and Geert Van Rampelberg. The collective has been a permanent Toneelhuis theatre-maker since 2006. Their first plays, including De Krippel and The Lieutenant of Inishmore, were brazen, physical productions, packed with humour, virtuoso repartee and violence. They have frequently portrayed closed, inward-looking communities. Olympique Dramatique has worked off and on with various like-minded actors, teamed up with other collectives or signed on with inspired directors and urgent stories; but always with focus on the performer. Gradually they have developed a fondness for substantial repertory that blossoms under attentive, actor-focused directing – the ultimate evidence of this being the success of the recent of Risjaar Drei (Richard III), AUGUSTUS ergens op de vlakte (August: Osage County) and Angels in America. Van Rampelberg and Segers are no longer core members of the company, but Tom Dewispelaere and Stijn Van Opstal in particular are carrying on with Olympique Dramatique and occasionally invite their comrades-in-arms to perform in their productions.

Driven by the need to do their own thing, independently of a director, Tom Dewispelaere, Ben Segers, Stijn Van Opstal and Geert Van Rampelberg set up their actors’ collective Olympique Dramatique. Their first plays, which included De Krippel, De kale zangeres, De Jossen and The Lieutenant of Inishmore, were brazen, physical productions packed with humour and violence. The Olympiquers soon took on new challenges. They ventured into the world of the musical with Adams appels and for Kunstminnende heeren for once they did not start from an existing text. They even sought confrontation with a director: they made De geruchten with Guy Cassiers, Titus Andronicus with Raven Ruëll, In de strafkolonie / Het hol with Bart Meuleman, Het litteken lip with Pieter De Buysser and Bij het kanaal naar links with Alex van Warmerdam.

But as a general rule, they still create and direct their own work: Tom Dewispelaere adapted Hugo ClausOnvoltooid verleden, making the play and performing in it with Jan Decleir. It was selected for the Theatre Festival 2012. That same season 2011-2012 the other Olympiquers created Van de Velde, a new play about the Antwerp writer Roger Van de Velde who died tragically after a stormy life of alcoholism and addiction and years of internment. The 2012-2013 season brought the creation of the hilarious Niets Is Onmogelijk, a coproduction with Lazarus based on Nikolaj Erdman’s play The Suicide. They also performed revivals of Bij het kanaal naar links, Drie kleuren wit and Onvoltooid verleden. The 2013-2014 season brought another coproduction, this time with the primordial collective STAN, who created Het wijde land. In the 2014-2015 season they made the successful production AUGUSTUS ergens op de vlakte (August, Osage County) with KVS and NTGent. In the 2015–2016 season they again created a production with Alex van Warmerdam: Het Gelukzalige (Blissful Souls). In 2016-2017, they made Risjaar Drei, under the direction of Tom Dewispelaere and Stijn Van Opstal, with an all-star cast.

In 2017-18, the actors of Olympique Dramatique performed in Poquelin II, in JR by FC Bergman and in a revival of Drie kleuren wit (Three Shades of White) at the Bourla.

In the 2018-2019 season, Olympique Dramatique is treated the public to a number of reprises: Risjaar Drei, Het litteken lip and Poquelin II. What’s more, in May 2019, a French version of Poquelin II also went on tour.

The 2019-2020 season saw the realization of no less than the epic Angels in America. Tom Dewispelaere and Stijn Van Opstal were responsible for the adaptation and direction; together with a top cast, they presented this contemporary classic as an ode to people’s capacity to adapt and survive, as an argument for the strength and consolation that comes with love.

Wachten op Godot (Waiting for Godot) is the next classic that Tom Dewispelaere and Stijn Van Opstal are tackling. Almost 70 years after the publication of Beckett’s most famous play, they are rising to the challenge of putting what is simultaneously farce, vaudeville, tragedy and pure slapstick on the boards. Because of the corona situation, the team decided to move to the Waagnatie, an abandoned warehouse on the Schelde river. In 2022, Wachten op Godot had a new run on location in Turnhout (De Warande).

Olympique Dramatique also participated in Lonely Hearts Club Band, a collective project that brings all of the Toneelhuis makers together on stage in the Bourla in June 2022.

For the 2022-2023 season, Tom Dewispelaere and Stijn Van Opstal create An Enemy of the People. Ibsen's wry comedy evokes burningly topical echoes of recent environmental scandals close to home and whistle-blower affairs. True to form, Olympique Dramatique has assembled a sophisticated and strong cast of performers, with an eye for new talent.

Productions from/with ‘Olympique Dramatique’