Selection Flemish Theatre Festival 2015
In his short novel "Too Loud a Solitude" (translated into Dutch as "Al te luide eenzaamheid"), the Czech author Bohumil Hrabal sketches a moving portrait of a lonely paper crusher. He works in a filthy pit, crushing books and waste paper into bales. As he dredges through the piles that civilisation dumps on him each day, he saves the nicest books from destruction. That’s how, despite everything, he comes into contact with some of the world’s best literature, philosophy and poetry. Using what he finds, he attempts to give some meaning to his life and the world around him. He rises from the depths of his subterranean rubbish dump to become a philosopher, aesthete and profound lover of life. Until suddenly it looks like he may lose everything… A raw and painfully funny tale of power and helplessness, love, philosophy, eroticism and alcohol. And above all about a solitude that is much too loud. A tale in which misfortune is charming, failure creates a smile, and a stumble is philosophical.
Performed by Koen van Kaam. Live music by Jorgen Cassier. Directed by Koen De Sutter.
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“The ragged way in which Koen van Kaam brings the part to life is one of the most impressive theatrical acting performances seen in the past few years in the Low Countries. ... He gets it just right: so fragile, so lucid, yet at the same time with such depth encompassed in one role: its like has seldom been seen before. … this is one of those rare performances that you really must see. ... And not least because its unconditional defence of beauty, wisdom and the right to be curious, which is at odds with the coldness of highly efficient thought, is likely to remain relevant for some time to come.” Tom Rummens in etcetera
“... With “Al te luide eenzaamheid”, this representation of the novel of the same name by the Czech author Bohumil Hrabal, the Antwerp theatre company reconfirms its reputation as the class rebel. Its stock in trade is to reach to the back of the bookshelf for texts that are far from obvious choices for a play – which it then turns into passionate and often challenging theatre. No other company approaches a text so uncompromisingly when it comes to the language, the musicality and the ideas. And the conviction that actors can primarily be ‘servants of the letter’ is embodied here by Koen van Kaam in his best-ever role, wearing dusty clothes, with hunched shoulders and his hesitant voice verging on the angry. At a time when libraries threaten to become cabinets of curiosities in cellars, his modest performance honours the tenderness of the erudite. ...” From the Jury report of the Theatre Festival 2015
“Al te luide eenzaamheid” is intimate spoken theatre about the existential loneliness into which we dig ourselves, in a society which gets it kicks from megalomania and measurable performance. This treasure – solidly shaped from the words in Hrabal’s stunning novella - is an ode to be cherished about daring to be tender, fragile, slow and romantic in life, with a precious book under each arm, full of phrases which you sample in tiny morsels as if they were exquisite amuse-gueules" **** Els Van Steenberghe in Focus Knack
"It’s not often you see Koen van Kaam acting with such vulnerability: rough and dirty, and at the same time so humble, with Hrabal’s many diminutives. Like a child reaching for language as if for grapes on the highest vine, and not knowing their flavour until he tastes them: that’s how Koen van Kaam awakens a sweet tranquillity amidst the deplorable chaos of the set. That’s the true art of the narrator: giving breaths between the lines, reinforced by Jorgen Cassier with heavy and light notes from two pianos. ... precisely the ode to the word you expect from every Zuidpool production." **** Wouter Hillaert in DeStandaard
"a sublime interpretation... In an era when progress, automation and efficiency are becoming key words, he is the solitary guardian of a cultural awareness that is becoming neglected by this new mechanisation. ... It is with this same dedication that Koen van Kaam captures the audience in the web of Hrabal’s tale on a fabulous set of worn-out books." **** Jan-Jakob Delanoye in CuttingEdge
FOLK HUMOUR x BAROQUE IMAGINATION
The author Bohumil Hrabal (1914-1997) has been called the ‘the Prague king of letters’ by his fellow countryman Milan Kundera. "Hrabal embodies the fascinating city of Prague like no other. He combines folk humour with baroque imagination." Hrabal studied law, but preferred to work as a labourer in the theatre, on the railways and in the steel and waste paper industries. He was known as a notorious café-goer, careful dissident, sceptical man of the people, gout-ridden pigeon fancier and fantastic storyteller. He takes his place as one the greatest 20th century East European writers. Hrabal combines an extremely accessible folk style with influences from surrealism and existentialism and a unique sense of humour. His novel "Too Loud a Solitude", written between 1972 and 1976, is considered by many to be his best work.
"For we are like olives: only when we are crushed do we yield what is best in us."