Toneelhuis, Benjamin Verdonck

Handvest (Manifesto) for the active participation of the performing arts sector in the transition towards a fair durability

to all employees of a performing arts organisation

receiving support under the arts decree

and by extension to all who wish to respond to this appeal

I'm asking you to help me create a work of art


the work of art consists of

adhering within a certain period

and to the best of one's ability 

to the following rules


the rules concern the actions of participants

in their capacity as employees of a performing arts organisation

and are in no way compulsory

as to the actions of participants outside of this capacity


the creation of the work of art begins on September 1st, 2013

at the start of the new theatre season

and ends on February 7th, 2014

160 and a half days later

in the middle of the same theatre season


after completion of the work of art

all commitments entered into during its creation become void


at the start of the work of art all eco teams of the participating performing arts organisations

are dissolved

then people are invited

to meditate on the causes of the ecological crisis

by means of a letter

sent by the united nations to the artists gilbert and george

on the opening of their exhibition the naked shit pictures

to inform them that excrement from the west

still contains sufficient salts and minerals

to keep alive for four days

a third world child


at the start of the work of art

thursday as veggie day [bestaat wel enkel in België onder die naam. US = meatless monday]

is rescinded

that day is served a choice of

steak and chips/fries or lemon sole with pommes dauphine [chips = Brits, fries = US]

the participating organisations are then asked not to serve

any meat or fish dishes

in their staff canteen on the other days of the week

any employee having a meal out of the office while on the job

will also abstain from consuming any meat or fish, except on thursdays


after the start of the work of art

all promotion material deemed necessary

for productions premiering within the stated period

will be printed in black letters on unbleached recycled paper

the share of the communication budget saved this way

will be used collectively at the end of the stated period

to rent one or more billboards

on which will be written on a white background

in upside-down black letters:

we agreed on everything


at the start of the work of art

participants will be asked

to use public transport and/or a bicycle

to travel to and from work

participants needing to work

after public transport has stopped running

will be offered a place to spend the night

any participant may invoke up to three times family circumstances

in order to return home using a taxi service


at the start of the work of art

participants will be asked

to create dance or theatre pieces

without a set


with a set

but one built of materials

already in possession of the organisation

before it agreed to participate in the work of art


specifically for travelling performances

the following rule applies

the set

(with the exception of the equipment present

at the host theatre)

should be of a size

allowing the cast and technicians

to carry its parts safely and comfortably

while travelling

the amount saved on the set budget

should be used towards employing additional performance artists


at the start of the work of art

participants undertake

not to travel by air

nor to receive

any company using air travel

no exceptions to this rule are possible

unless the participating organisation contends

that an international tour is essential

to financially ensure

its continued existence


participant is in possession of a ring

they twist around their finger

making them invisible

while flying

and doing this

twice on a european flight


once on a transatlantic flight

whereupon the advantaged participant

undertakes to

howl like a dog

every night

for a month

up to three times a night


imagine what would happen

if the entire performing arts sector

participated conscientiously and assiduously

for 160 and a half days

in this work of art


what a cathedral of skeins of dissonance and dialectics

what an epiphany of possibilities

fundamentals games joy and symbolic capital

this would generate

for our future artistic practice

remembering cocteau


when asked

what he would take with him if his house was on fire


the fire


  • Benjamin Verdonck


  • Toneelhuis
  • Benjamin Verdonck

All data

There are no upcoming activities for this event.

  1. Saturday 1 September 2012 — 2h00 — Op locatie, Antwerpen

News about ‘Handvest’

Benjamin Verdonck in The Ethics of Art Article • 28 April 2014

Benjamin Verdonck in The Ethics of Art

Benjamin Verdonck heeft een bijdrage geleverd aan het boek The Ethics of Art: Ecological Turns in the Performing Arts. Hij stelt er zijn HANDVEST VOOR EEN ACTIEVE MEDEWERKING VAN DE PODIUMKUNSTEN AAN EEN TRANSITIE NAAR RECHTVAARDIGE DUURZAAMHEID voor en brengt verslag uit van de reacties in de kunstensector op dit initiatief. Even verderop plaatsen Christel Stalpaert en Karolien Byttebier ecologie & de kunsten in een historisch perspectief en toetsen hun inzichten aan Bara/ke (2000) en Hirondelle/Dooi vogeltje/The Great Swallow (2004-2006), twee locatieprojecten van Benjamin Verdonck.

Also interesting productions