Guy Cassiers / Toneelhuis [BE]

Onder de vulkaan

Onder de vulkaan
Onder de vulkaan

30.10 – 31.10.2009

Ex-consul and notorious alcoholic

With Malcolm Lowry’s Under the Volcano (1974), Guy Cassiers is staging yet another great 20th century literary work.

The events in Under the Volcano take place in Mexico in the space of a single day: 2nd November 1938, All Souls’ Day, the Day of the Dead. The main character is Geoffrey Firmin, ex-consul and notorious alcoholic, addicted to tequila and mezcal. His wife Yvonne has left him, but is willing to try and save the relationship. She has had affairs with Hugh Firmin, the consul’s half-brother, and with Jacques Laruelle. Hugh Firmin is worried: he is getting older and is, moreover, also feeling guilty about having withdrawn from the Spanish Civil War. Geoffrey is too far gone to embark on a new relationship with Yvonne. He hears voices that sometimes lead him astray and at other times admonish him. He finds himself in a twilight zone with no sense of time, adrift in his lonely alcohol-saturated brain and with a diminishing number of threads connecting him with the outside world. There are very few books that describe the hallucinatory universe of a drunk so clearly, so pitilessly, so interestingly and so poignantly. At the same time, Under the Volcano is also the deeply sad and moving story of an impossible love: two people who love each other as much as they hate each other. For the consul, the Day of the Dead becomes a fatal descent into his own hell, from which there is no escape.

As a project Onder de vulkaan (Under the Volcano) is linked to other productions by Guy Cassiers such as The Wasp Factory (Ian Banks), Bezonken rood (Jeroen Brouwers), Hersenschimmen (Bernlef) and The Woman Who Walked Into Doors (Roddy Doyle).

In each case the world is described through the very subjective eyes of a traumatic and tortured consciousness. It is the conscious mind of the outsider: the girl who is brought up as a boy in The Wasp Factory, the writer traumatised by camping experiences in Bezonken rood, the Alzheimer sufferer Martin in Hersenschimmen, and the woman terrorised by domestic violence and alcohol addiction in The Woman Who Walked Into Doors. Cassiers examines how a very personal and idiosyncratic world develops from this experience. This inner world is given shape through a sophisticated use of visual technology.

Last year Cassiers staged his Triptiek van de macht (Triptych of Power) at the Kaaitheater: Mefisto for ever (written by Tom Lanoye after Mephisto by Klaus Mann), Wolfskers (written by Jeroen Olyslaegers after the films by Aleksandr Sokurov) and Atropa, de wraak van de vrede (Atropa - The revenge of peace - Tom Lanoye, after the Greek tragedies).


direction Guy Cassiers | text Josse de Pauw | after Malcolm Lowry | dramaturgy Erwin Jans | with Katelijne Damen, Josse de Pauw, Bert Luppes, Marc van Eeghem | design, scenography Enrico Bagnioli, Diederik de Cock, Arjen Klerkx | costumes Katelijne Damen | production Toneelhuis | co-production Théâtre de la Ville (Paris), Festival d’Automne (Paris), MC2 (Grenoble), Maison de la Culture d’Amiens, Théâtre du Nord (Lille), Le Volcan (Le Havre), La Comédie de Reims | thanks to Universitaire Associatie Brussel, Het Platform, Doctoraat In De Kunsten, Het Brussels Model en Universidad Nacional Autonomica De Mexico, Centro Cultural Universitario, Tlatelololco, Tim van Steenbergen, Kapsalon Salvatore, Kleding PR'ins