“SONG#2 is een pareltje van belevingstheater, van ritueel ervaringstheater. Om te koesteren.”

Mooie woorden van Tuur Devens in Theaterkrant.nl *****

SONG#2 is nog te zien in de Bourla tot en met zaterdag. Daarna op tournee in Vlaanderen en Nederland. 
Julie Rodeyns sprak met Abke Haring en Benjamin Verdonck over SONG#2. Lees hier het integrale interview.

Celebrating life, SONG#2 by Abke Haring and Benjamin Verdonck

Abke Haring and Benjamin Verdonck both belong to the ensemble of theatre-makers attached to the Toneelhuis theatre in Antwerp. She makes productions acclaimed for their pared down intensity; he has made a name for himself as a ‘visual theatre-maker’ with projects both inside and outside the black box. They made Song#2 together.

A discussion.

How did the cooperation between you come about?   

Benjamin Verdonck: We met through Toneelhuis. I really admire Abke Haring’s work. I am fascinated by her use of language and the musicality of her scripts. I wanted the chance to articulate one of her scripts.   

Perhaps because language is a medium you yourself are less at home with?   

Verdonck: You’re right in saying that I am often labelled a “visual theatre-maker”, though personally I find that odd. I have made many spoken productions, but it’s true to say that I am interested in the visual and I have also made wordless productions.

Abke Haring: It is his visual power and above all his colour palette [laughs] that drew me to Benjamin’s work. I was also attracted by the rawness of Benjamin’s work – the all or nothing attitude. Making big choices is something I can relate to.  

What should I make of the title: Song #2? A song by two makers?

Haring: A song for, by or with two: the title is not unambiguous and that’s good. I can live with the confusion. We are on stage together, yes. We are actors as well as theatre-makers. Meeting in the performance is different from making something together. You get to know each other again, in a different way.  We didn’t feel the need to involve additional actors. There’s enough flesh on the two of us.   

And the ‘Song’ in the title?

Verdonck: In this case it should be read as a song of life or perhaps something like the Song of Songs from the Bible. If I was asked to sum up Song#2 in three words now, that would be it: singing life’s praises.  

That sounds very ambitious. ‘Life’ is a very general word, how do you make it specific?

Verdonck: I’m not sure I agree with the word ‘ambitious’. How can’t you talk about life.  I’m all for clear metaphors: a deep pond, a black wood, a white horse. And for me ‘singing life’s praises’ belongs in that category. 

Haring: First and foremost we want to communicate a feeling. When we first got together to work on the production we talked a great deal over lots of cups of coffee and cigarettes, and not least about scenes from our personal life which conjure up a particular feeling. For example: you are fourteen years old and you realize you are growing. Every now and then in your life you have those sort of great insights.

Verdonck: You breathe in the air and listen to the woods and realize that trees and animals don’t give a damn about you, as the writer Elias Canetti put it. You have a choice: you can either go and sit or you can cheerfully go on trying to find your way. For me it’s about a life force.

I know you both as idiosyncratic theatre-makers, but on the face of it you don’t appear to have much in common. Am I mistaken? Or isn’t having something in common a condition for being able to work together? 

Haring: I would say that we share ‘meticulousness’. We are both nitpickers, albeit in different ways. You might call it precision. But Benjamin doesn’t agree with me.

Verdonck: I don’t know if it’s necessary to have things in common. Except perhaps that it’s important that we understand each other’s language and are on the same wavelength when it comes to talking about things.   


Benjamin Verdonck and Abke Haring, Song#2, from November 29th to December 8th at the Bourla theatre, Komedieplaats 18, Antwerp.

Then on tour in Flanders and the Netherlands, www.toneelhuis.be



Published in H art magazine on November 29th 2012



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