republic of dreams

(bruno schulz)

Adaptation of 'Spring' and seven stories from 'The Cinnamon Shops' (1933) by the Polish avant-garde writer Bruno Schulz.

Premiere French version: January 2005, SN Le Volcan, Le Havre (FR)
Premiere Dutch version: January 2006, deSingel (on location: Red Star Line hangars), Antwerp (B)

The text

Bruno Schulz (1893-1942) was born in the Austrian region of Galicia, but in 1918, Drohobycz, the village where he was born, was annexed to Poland and he became Polish.
Schulz was already fascinated by drawing at an early age and throughout his life taught it in the village where he lived with his family and where his father, Jacob Schulz, had a draper’s shop. It was only by chance that he came into contact with literature. He wrote letters to a friend describing his lonely existence, the life of his family and fellow citizens, and events in the village. These letters soon expanded into longer stories and in 1934 the first collection of them was published under the title 'The Cinnamon Shops'. This was followed three years later by 'Sanatorium Clepsydra', and this signalled the completion of Schultz’ oeuvre. The piece entitled 'Republic of Dreams' is an adaptation of seven stories from this oeuvre. Waas Gramser, Kris Van Trier, Herwig Ilegems and the costume designer Thijsje Strypens adapted Bruno Schultz’ baroque, expressionist work to form a complex but not necessarily less lucid and comical play about the power of the imagination.

Staging

The play has been made with an eye to the cold days of winter. Comp.Marius’ semicircular wooden seating stand is to be set up in an old hangar. The members of the audience can keep warm in the bar, which serves tea and hot apple juice with cinnamon. 'Sissi', the film starring Romy Schneider, is projected on the wall. Reflector heaters are hung above the seating and woollen blankets lie ready on the benches.

Schubert’s 'Der Erlkönig' emerges from the loudspeakers; the play begins. The audience passes over the acting area to their seats. All the actors are on stage. We see the mother doing her hair; Polda and Paulina are at sewing machines; Adela, the housekeeper, is making tea; the friend, Rudolf, is tinkering with his moped. Jozef is looking for his father, who is somewhere nearby.

The composition of the play is straightforward: at its heart is the emblematic father-figure, an occasionally demented scientist and a poet who is not of this world. But to his son Jozef he is the embodiment of the pure artistic soul. Jozef wants to create things too, and with the help of his postage stamp album and puppets he fantasises the story of Bianca, the princess who is kidnapped and swapped with someone else. It is a monologue that unfolds throughout the performance. It is the thread running through a chaotic household, the response to the drabness of the world ruled by Emperor Franz Joseph. Since it is performed outside the traditional setting of a theatre, transparency and simplicity gain the upper hand, which corresponds entirely to Comp.Marius’ artistic creed.

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Collaborators

Adaptation: Waas Gramser, Kris Van Trier, Herwig Ilegems, Thijsje Strypens
French translation: Monique Nagielkopf
Actors: Marie Bos, Frank Dierens, Waas Gramser, Herwig Ilegems, Kyoko Scholiers, Thijsje Strypens, Kris Van Trier
Costumes: Thijsje Strypens
Sets / technical: Koen Schetske, Stevie Van Haver, Bram Verhagen

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