Guy “I started nine years ago in Toneelhuis with Mefisto for ever (Mephisto Forever). That was a production which reflected on the position of the artist in a changing political era. It became part of a series of three productions about power. Wolfskers focused on the standpoint of the ruler, Atropa on the female standpoint. The coming season also revolves around power, but a totally escalated power. We’re presenting two productions, Caligula by Albert Camus, and an adaptation of The Kindly Ones, a book by Jonathan Littell that has won the Prix Goncourt. Caligula was suggested by Kevin Janssens, who will be playing the leading role. The Kindly Ones is a very thick book. After 300 pages I thought: I’ll be darned, this is important, I can’t wait too long with this. I also immediately saw possibilities of staging the book in collaboration with Toneelgroep Amsterdam, because when we combine forces we have a marvellous team of actors.”
Wilbert “Is there any connection between these two productions for you?”
Guy “I put terrible characters on the stage in both of them. Caligula is the Emperor of Rome. After the death of his sister, with whom he was very much in love, he loses all interest in life. He realizes that there are no eternally universal principles of good and evil. Through his aggressive and provocative behaviour, he challenges his surroundings and undermines the entire political and moral structure. He confronts his friends and the senators of Rome with their cowardice, their hypocrisy, their lies, their all-too-human attitudes. Because he permits himself every liberty, Caligula comes to grief in an apocalyptic way.
“Jonathan Littell’s book portrays a man, Max Aue, who is closely involved in eliminating the Jews in Eastern Europe as efficiently as possible. It’s a book full of gruesome facts. Caligula uses his power to pull down the entire society because he feels life is pointless. I see more and more of that fatalism in our society today. In Littell’s book, the abhorrence lies in the motives of the Nazi officers. Seeing as a decision has been taken to exterminate the Jews, how do we tackle the job as efficiently as possible? The horrific aspect of the book is that you fear that you might have done the same thing under those circumstances. That shocking fact makes this book very important. The two productions confront us as spectators with our moral choices in very different ways.”