By Viviane De Muynck and Jan Lauwers, based on ‘Penelope’, the final chapter of Ulysses by James Joyce
A magnificent monologue that, in these#MeTootimes, reinforces the need for equality for women in the voices of two great actresses: BelgianViviane DeMuynckand ChileanGaby Hernández.
In 1999, Belgian artists Viviane De Muynck and Jan Lauwers began working on a theater version of the last chapter of James Joyce’s Ulysses, a radical monologue spoken by Molly Bloom, the unfaithful wife of the principal character, Leopold Bloom. What they did not expect, though, was for the author’s grandson to send them a series of offensive letters forbidding them from using this material. Nevertheless, they managed to hold secret dramatic readings of this version in Germany, which were well-received by critics.
Twenty-two years later, once the copyright on James Joyce’s work had expired, De Muynck became Molly Bloom once again. At 74, one of the grandedames of European theater performs in a play that, in these #MeToo times, reinforces the need to talk about emancipation, equality and sexual freedom for women. She is not the only one to bring the leading lady to life though: Jan Lauwers, who has taken part in the festival before in 2009, with a touching version of Elcuartode Isabella also starring Viviane De Muynck, directs a version starring renowned Chilean actress Gaby Hernández.
This Belgian theater, movie and television director (1946) began a long-standing artistic collaboration with director Jan Lauwers and Needcompany in 1993, touring the world with them in starring roles. As well as her work as an actress, she has also directed theater plays and musicals. In 2018, she won the Ultima Award for General Cultural Merit from the Flemish government. She is considered the grande dame of European theater.
Born in Antwerp in 1957, he is one of the most avant-garde artists on the European artistic scene. He founded Needcompany in 1986, a company that is involved in various aspects of the performing arts (theater, dance, performance and the visual arts) and is a pioneer of multilingual productions (Dutch, English, French, Spanish…), with an emphasis on post-dramatic texts. As well as his work in theater, he has had an important career in the visual arts and has since 2018 started working in opera.
This theater, movie and television actress started her career at the University of Chile’s Experimental Theater, where she trained as a performer. At 24, she went to work in Mexico, then the United States and then Spain, where she lived until 1988, when she returned to Chile. Since then, she has been part of the drama department at the TVN, Canal 13 and Mega television stations, has taken part in theater plays and has also been a television presenter on Chilevisión. In 2018, she was honored by the Chilean Syndicate of Actors for her career in the arts.
Created in 1986 by Belgian artists Jan Lauwers and Grace Ellen Barkey and later joined by Maarten Sehgers, this multidisciplinary group’s work is mainly based on avant-garde scripts that are constantly pushing the boundaries of art and promoting its importance in society. Their work has been presented and lauded throughout Europe and the world.
- Chilean actress Gaby Hernández takes to the stage in the role of a character who ‘fits her like a glove’, given her profile as a versatile performer with a great stage presence. This has been seen, for example, in one of her latest pieces for theater, Niebla, with Gloria Munchmayer.
- Its provocative script is like no other, not only because of its subject matter but also because of its style: it is written without almost any punctuation, making it a declamation hard to even take a breath and as direct as a bullet made of words. “It is clear that a woman wants to be embraced 20 times a day almost as a way of staying young it doesn’t matter by whom as long as she is in love with or loved by someone if the man you love isn’t always in there by God I was thinking that I would go to the dock myself on a dark night where no one knows me to screw a sailor recently arrived from the high seas who was desperate for it and who wouldn’t give a damn who I was and was only interested in getting it on in a doorway somewhere”.
Theater monologue: This is a speech by a single person, normally to express their thoughts out loud, although sometimes also to address another person or the audience. It comes from the Greek words monos (alone or solitary) and lógos (speech), and also serves, from the characters’ point of view, as a way of expressing feelings lyrically.