The theatre-makers Waas Gramser and Kris Van Trier have been inseparable on stage since 1991. They created their first performances as part of tg STAN (1991-1993), after which they played under the name Maten (1994-1996) with Guy Cassiers, subsequently spending eight years under the banner of De Onderneming (English translation: The Enterprise, 1997-2005), a n alternative production structure for which they took the initiative. Since 2006, they have steered an independent course, performing under the name Comp.Marius.
“What I expect art to be is not only that it is good as art, but also that it is deeply embedded in life. I much prefer hearing Chopin flowing onto the streets from an open window than Chopin with all the frills and trimmings of a concert stage.”
Comp.Marius, theatre-makers since 1991, specialised in open-air performance.Comp.Marius translates and adapts classic plays as well as novels, displaying a preference for comedies with an existential undertone. Many of them are by 20th-century authors (incl. Samuel Beckett, Thomas Bernhard, Marcel Pagnol and Bruno Schulz), but they also include earlier writers (August Beaumarchais, Johann Nestroy) and are given a new language and sometimes a completely revised dramaturgy. The name Comp.Marius originated in a play that was created in 1999 and for a variety of reasons became key in the path taken by these two theatre-makers :
>Performances outdoors and on locationWith the play 'Marius' they left the traditional indoor stage for the first time. They set up an old circus seating stand on the banks of the river Scheldt, performed in daylight and personally welcomed the audience. Two years later, taking inspiration from this modified circus seating, they built their own wooden tiered seating. Since then, their adaptations of classic writings have consistently been performed on river banks, in public parks, on waste land and in discarded hangars, under a radiant sun as well as in pouring rain.
>Bread and circusesMarius also marked the first time we combined bread and circuses. The show started at 12 noon, so we welcomed a hungry audience with home-made sandwiches. Later, 'Aftergrass' and such longer performances as 'The Trilogy' and 'Manon and Jean de Florette' combined theatre with a meal served to the audience. By doing this, Comp.Marius succeeded in linking theatre to another social event of crucial importance: sharing a meal. In shorter performances, we may just have a drink together. The reception of the audience is part of the identity of the company: the actors are always the hosts.
>InternationalThe French version of 'Marius' was first performed in Nantes (France) in 2001, marking the start of an extensive international tour, mainly through France and later also Spain and Germany. Today, almost all the plays on its repertoire have an international premiere.
Mobile constructions & audio-playsIn parallel with this work outside the traditional theatre building, the company has developed a separate line of activity building mobile constructions: two sets of tiered seating with a capacity of 250 (2001, 2008), an open-air library (2010), mobile accommodation (in residence at the Middelheim Museum since 2014), and a small set of tiered seating with a capacity of 80 (2014). In 2009 the company discovered the sound play and developed a series of them that can be listened to in small set-ups: 'All That Fall' and Kharm’s short audio-plays.
Repertoire and kindred spiritsAlmost all the productions remain on the company’s repertoire. This enables the audience to keep track of the course the makers have followed and it is also a deliberate statement: it reacts against the habit of throwing away what is no longer new.
Lastly, together with Jan Decorte they form a small Shakespeare alliance that adds a play to the repertoire every two years. Together with the Dutch company ’t Barre Land, Comp.Marius regularly ventures into more complex works. This cooperation has led to some highly-acclaimed productions that can be seen in the classical theater auditoriums.