Interview met Abke Haring en Benjamin Verdonck over Song#2

SONG#2 is science fiction poetry over bestemming,
samenloop en staal
gereedschap en inzicht
het bos en het kind waarvan
geen spaander heel blijft
een herinnering


Tell me about the title.

Abke: You should read Song#2 as ‘song for two’.

Why a song?

Abke: A song is concise and powerful in structure. I like that.

Can you both sing?

Abke: No.

Benjamin: I like singing.

Why do you want to work with Abke?

Benjamin: I interviewed her for Toneelg(e)ruis and I was completely bowled over by her answers.

What do you remember about that discussion?

Benjamin: I asked her who her favourite writer is. She sighed and said: “I read books of photographs.” 

Abke: I take my time over a page because I want to understand the details. But I keep trying. What could be nicer than someone who can read really well.

Why do you want to work with Benjamin?

Abke: He will explain.

Benjamin: I met Abke again during rehearsals for Middenin de nacht (In the Middle of the Night). Her sense of humour reminded me of the time I spent in Amsterdam rehearsing with Dood Paard.  I laughed so much.

With this production people are anticipating an encounter between two very different theatre-makers.

Together: It isn’t an encounter.

Benjamin: It is always an encounter. We are making a show together. Just as you always do.   

Abke: Benjamin often addresses his audience directly, literally. I create an atmosphere, a situation, which I present to my audience.  I would like to hear how my words sound when spoken by Benjamin.

Will the script be the starting point?

Benjamin: We haven’t decided that yet.

Abke: I need time to write. So perhaps Benjamin will start the ball rolling.

Benjamin: I would not rule out writing something, but I never know in advance. I write by the grace of the moment. Either it works or it doesn’t. Abke: That’s a very vague answer.

Are there just the two of you on stage?

Abke: At the moment, yes, but Benjamin wants to keep the option of a third actor open.

Benjamin: A thing, an actors’ thing, a human object, a petticoat.

Abke: Not a man.

Benjamin: I knew you were going to say that. Not a man, no. You’re already bringing Senjan with you.

Senjan Jansen is responsible for the sound design. Other players?

Benjamin: Iwan Van Vlierberghe who has coordinated the technical side of my work for years.

Does he also have an artistic input?

Benjamin: Of course.

But what should I expect of your new work? May I ask what the play will be about?   

Together: Of course.

Abke: Benjamin, last night you talked to me about an image you had. Benjamin: Did I tell you about the landscape?

Abke: The landscape? It was something to do with the seasons.

Benjamin: There are lots of mountains with some houses and behind them the sun shines, the moon. It’s windy there, it rains, snows, plants put out buds and blossom and it’s freezing cold.

Abke: The seasons, the four seasons.

Benjamin: I saw something like that happening behind us throughout the play. The seasons are just there.

Abke: I hear a language people speak in 3015 when they talk about now. Benjamin: You see, that’s what I mean.

If I have to describe your show in one sentence?

Abke: It is a torture of Tantalus.

Benjamin: A Sisyphean task.

Benjamin: Aftje Haring and Benjamin Verdonck make Song#2, a meticulous production.

Abke: Appje, my name’s appje.

Benjamin: It’s going to be something sad. A swansong. I would like to begin with Dire Straits’ Money for Nothing and then smash everything to smithereens.

Abke: A convection.

Benjamin: Leave it.

Do you have much in common?

Abke: I relate to meticulousness.

In what way?

Benjamin: Meticulous is taking trouble over something. Dedication. That’s something warm.

Abke: Warm? Meticulous is cutting out the heart of a dying animal. It has to do with sharpness, knives, cutting away pain and showing it.

Benjamin: That’s what I mean.

Abke: For me meticulousness is showing the wound very precisely in words. Benjamin: Meticulousness as in ‘caring for’.

Abke: ... as in ‘finishing’...


interview by An-Marie Lambrechts

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