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“There are only three things necessary for a performance to work: the play – words – the actors and the audience. You don’t need anything else for the miracle to happen.”
-Ingmar Bergman, After the Rehearsal
"Together we have danced every imaginable turn: suffering, tenderness, passion, foolishness, betrayal, anger, comedy, tedium, love, lies, joy, jealousies, adultery, overstepping boundaries, good faith. And here are even more: tears, eroticism, mere eroticism, disasters, triumphs, troubles, abuse, fights, anxiety, pining, eggs, sperm, bleeding, departure, panties. Here are even more – best to finish before the rails run out – impotence, lechery, terror, the proximity of death, death itself, black nights, sleepless nights, white nights, music, breakfast, breasts, lips, pictures. Turn towards the camera and behold another jumble of images: skin, dog, rituals, roast duck, whale steak, bad oysters, cheating and fiddling, rapes, fine clothes, jewellery, touches, kisses, shoulders, hips, strange lights, streets, towns, rivals, seducers, hairs in the comb, long letters, explanations, all that laughter, ageing, aches, spectacles, hands, hands, hands. Now the aria comes to a close: shadows, gentleness, I will help you, the shoreline, the sea. Now all is quiet. My father’s old gold watch with its cracked glass ticks away on its stand on my desk. It says seven minutes to twelve."
- Ingmar Bergman, Laterna Magica
After Scènes de la vie conjugale (Scenes from a Marriage) and Après la répétition (After the Rehearsal) in 2013, STAN once again turns its attention to Ingmar Bergman’s oeuvre. The desire to delve more deeply into Bergman’s work is shared by actor Robby Cleiren, who has previously been involved in STAN productions, including Betrayal, The Monkey Trial and The Cherry Orchard. His company, de Roovers, is coproducing this new play. For the first time they are working with Ruth Becquart, best known in recent years for her television work.
Infidèles is based on the eponymous script from 1996 and Bergman's autobiography 'Laterna Magica' published in 1987. In ‘Infidèles’ Bergman himself goes into dialogue with his characters and the first-person narrator is incorporated in the piece. This exploration of the autobiographical dimension of his work is not reduced to voyeurism, confession or psychologization, but shows how subtly and ruthlessly Bergman exposed human relationships.
The uninhibited theatrical reading will throw into relief the discernment and humanity, the vitality and humour of Bergman’s oeuvre. The piece will be an unaffected tribute, a declaration of love, a gesture of respect and admiration, but one that avoids idolatry.
Infidèles in Théâtre Garonne: do not throw stones at the adultrous woman
"With a mise-en-scene centered on the bodies, the movements and the light, with minima, with this simplicity, this correctness of the tone, this respectful mise en abyme of the words of Bergman which are its hallmark, the flemish collective, while always giving us the feeling that the play is being created before our eyes, tells in a unique way this banal tragedy of ordinary life. And we, we still love it so much. "
Nicole Clodi, La Dépêche du Midi, 8 May 2018
A theatre of tormented souls
First of all there is Infidèles (Faithless) after the scenario of the same name and with passages from Laterna Magica. It is a collective work made by four actors from the magnificent tg STAN: Ruth Becquart, Robby Cleiren, Jolente De Keersmaeker and Frank Vercruyssen. Infidèles is both a Bergman scenario and a film by Liv Ullmann – Infidèle in the singular. Here it is almost as if the writer, the artist Bergman is standing next to his own characters.
Armelle Héliot, Le Figaro, 5 September 2018
...you are soon gripped by the incredible performance of the actors who breathe lightness and silences into the dialogues. What Frank Vercruyssen calls “injecting air and irony”. One might also call it ‘detachment’. Nothing is overdone or overplayed, everything is said with elegance and simplicity. Passion, pain, childhood and love run through the play. These four exceptional actors who refuse to be hurried perform scenes from life at a languid moderato pace.
Stéphane Capron, Sceneweb, 11 September 2018
It’s a play that infiltrates your mind and still haunts it two days later.”
Axel Ito, (ceci n'est) Pas une critique, September 2018
‘Infidèles’ after Ingmar Bergman
...what makes it captivating and addictive lies in the apparent simplicity of the dialogues...
Alicia Dorey, Les 5 Pièces, September 2018
Infidèles by tg STAN and de Roovers, after Ingmar Bergman’s scenario Infidèles and his autobiography Laterna magica – Festival d’Automne in Paris
Are they playing their own character or someone else? The border between reality and fiction is tenuous, as if the barrier between the imaginations has been removed.
Véronique Hotte, Hottello, 12 September 2018
Festival d'automne: the Infidèles’ ballet of withered leaves
In an airy and adaptable set, the four actors deliver to perfection Ingmar Bergman’s script. With a crescendoing intensity, in which the skilfully maintained languor could prove destabilizing, they underscore the Swedish playwright’s incisive dialogues, some of which are taken from his autobiography Laterna Magica. They reveal the bitter-sweet humour and the humanity concealed behind the façade of cruelty and irony.
Vincent Bouquet, Les Echos, 12 September 2018
Infidèles, play by tg STAN and de Roovers, after Ingmar Bergman, at the Théâtre de la Bastille, Festival d’Automne in Paris
...it is that corrosive writing, incisive and theatrical, that ferocious dissection of an adulterous act and its consequences that tg STAN stages with jubilation and intelligent wiliness. Always with that happy, deliberate and open distance, that art of denouncing theatricality, of exposing it, that shrewd process that draws in the spectator, the attentive witness of a creation in the making, depriving him of empathy so that he, too, is kept at a distance from the events and thus spared judgement.
Denis Sanglard, Un Fauteuil pour L'Orchestre, 13 September 2018
Jolente & Frank are there so the new season must be upon us
That’s what they did today by dipping into Bergman’s writings to present Infidèles (Faithless) which is not faithful to the film director’s eponymous scenario. The actors rearranged their hand-picked texts and stamped their very distinctive acting style on them; distinctive in the sense that the actors play cat and mouse with the incarnation of a character and lay all their cards on the table with the spectators. That can sometimes lead to strange short-circuits among the quasi-subscribers to their shows.
Jean-Pierre Thibaudat, Mediapart, September 2018
You feel things could could take a sudden turn at any moment. There is a threesome and that scenario leads to an absolutely extraordinary comédie noire which pushes us into melodrama. Terrible scenes can result in something comical and in black humour. I found the show incredibly intense. It is quite a complex production and the emotion is there.
France Culture, 17 September 2018
Infidèles, or a confusion of emotions orchestrated by Bergman
Shielded by an acting style that abounds in subtlety and distant lightness, which is impressively natural and intense, the Flemish actors - Jolente De Keersmaeker, Robby Cleiren, Frank Vercruyssen and, for the first time, Ruth Becquart - relentlessly question an intimate and human truth which is as complex as it is fragile.
Amaury Jacquet, Publik Art, 17 September 2018
Faithful to the spirit of Bergman, with that languor, that sobriety streaked with cruelty and also those moments of gentleness, these broken characters at the very depths of their being are rendered thoroughly human, though not judged. What makes them even more authentic is the actors’ ‘northern’ accent.
Mathieu Perez, Le Canard Enchaîné, 19 September 2018
Infidèles, an immodest X-ray examination of an amorous triangle
Spellbound by the presence of the intense and unconventional actors who imitate life, real life, with such intensity and accuracy, the audience embarks on a chaotic voyage that is as close to mankind as is humanly possible.
L'Oeil d'Olivier, 20 September 2018
This dissection of defunct love affairs which unfolds according to the artificially real method of a work in progress, is of course not improvisation. With an amazing mix of genres punctuated with humour and comic passages like the scene from Stindberg’s ‘Dream Play’ in an ‘anti-theatre’ version, it also dupes the totally captivated spectator by blurring the borders between reality, the real, fiction, autofiction and theatrical illusion.
Froggy Delight, September 2018
In Bergman’s bottomless pit
Bergman says the same thing in his autobiography Laterna Magica: “I have a gift for representing most situations in life, I turn on my imagination and the right feelings come flooding in and take on colour and depth.” With him the quest for carefree happiness never lasts very long, unlike the wounds inflicted by that quest. “The way Bergman combines lightness, cruelty and self-mockery never fails to impress me. He deals with cruel subjects. We are cruel. And at the same time we have a good laugh”
Guillaume Tion interviews Frank Vercruyssen and Jolente De Keersmaeker, Libération, 21 September 2018
Theatre - Infidèles
As is their wont, the Flemish actors play with distance, they don’t take themselves too seriously, indeed they poke fun at themselves and at the theatre, reminding us that it is only a play, that they are just telling a story. The set is not intended to be any particular place. But despite everything, or perhaps because of it, it is more powerful than any realist drama. And on leaving the theatre, you feel you have known Markus, David, Isabelle and Marianne, and also that you had a good time (for even if you are sometimes moved to tears, you also laugh a lot) with the actors from TG Stan and de Roovers.
Pierre Charpilloz, Bande A Part, 23 September 2018
‘Infidèles’ directed by tg STAN and De Roovers
But tg STAN and de Roovers go further by using diegetic music as a succession of metaphors. The collectives derive malicious pleasure from torturing the audiotape by constantly interrupting it. The actors put on music only to switch it off abruptly a moment later. This evokes the idea of rupture, proof if any was needed that the tg STAN members are never so oafish (despite what they want us to believe). Let us applaud the brio of one scene in particular where the actors make fun of the sometimes questionable pretentions of contemporary theatre as adopted by some of its makers, reaffirming that they are firmly on the side of theatre without show-offs.
Alban Orsini, Culturopoing, 24 September 2018
Bergman in Paris
Those familiar with tg STAN are delighted to recognize a particular way of occupying the space, of showing how theatre is made, of putting the characters at a distance, of interrupting the intrigue by a simple change of costume, usually with humour. Dialogued from beginning to end, the initial narrative sometimes takes on a surprising vaudeville-esque tone, in which the author Bergman makes way for David the lover, in which the dramatic scheme dissolves in the laughter. But true emotion is aroused, not only by the character of the child torn between his parents and encouraged to commit suicide with his father, but also by its incredibly intense interpretation by Jolente De Keersmaeker.
Monique Le Roux, En attendant Nadeau, September 2018
tg STAN back at Bergman’s side
The result is a triumph. The four actors are in top form, the casting works brilliantly. We are immediately swept up in what unfolds before our eyes, rooted to our seats by the powerful truth of theatre when it is presented this way, without artifice, stripped to the bone. Ruth Becquart, in the central role, leads the acting and takes us with her from beginning to end. We recognize Bergman’s unparalleled sensitivity and lucidity in his meticulous portrayal of couples and human relationships, his inimitable way of analyzing the human psyche, of weighing sincerity against bad faith, without our knowing which way it will go. We recognize the Bergmanian tragedy, but also the lightness which tg STAN systematically brings without ever hamming it up, and we are grateful to the actors for that. So Infidèles delivers its dramatic charge, its narrative and its dark realism with great flair, while always providing an escape valve through the humour, the roguishness and the collective’s very special collusion with the audience which it has always managed to preserve and which is one of its nicest characteristics.
Marie Plantin, Pariscope, 26 September 2018
text Ingmar Bergman, translation Vincent Fournier
by and with Ruth Becquart, Robby Cleiren, Jolente De Keersmaeker and Frank Vercruyssen
costumes An D'Huys
lighting design Stef Stessel
production STAN and de Roovers
coproduction Festival D’Automne (Paris), Théâtre de la Bastille (Paris), Théâtre Garonne (Toulouse)