An old shed close to the Antwerp port. Nightfall.
Mourad, an Algerian guy without papers, is on his way to Ostend to take his chances on crossing the Channel to England. Erik, a young Flemish entrepreneur, could use some help and gives him a ride. On the road, they start talking. About their world, about how it is and what it could be like.
Five women travel with them – unseen. With an arsenal of songs, sounds and languages, they sing about the things the men cannot talk about.
In HAVEN 010 sound, image and text will be woven together to tell the tale of a contemporary odyssey. A very difficult journey at times, along our roads, and through our cities and ports. But always behind the scenes of our daily lives.
The text is written by Michael De Cock, inspired by the statements of and the talks with the refugees he encountered over the years. Singer Judith Vindevogel will start from the song Seerauber Jenny from Die Dreigroschenoper (Bertolt Brecht/Kurt Weill) and together with the Albanian violin player Anna Naqé, the Norwegian accordeon player Camilla Barratt-Due, the Dutch singer, composer and musician Hadewig Kras, the Croatian clarinet player Marija Pavlovic and the Spanish composer Charo Calvo she will create a world of sound that is alienating and familiar at the same time.
Hassan Abdelaziz, Haytham Abdo, Kamil Abdoursoulov, Ahmadzayeem Ahmadzai, Nabil Ali, Hamid Abdullah Al-Mashhadani, Nabil Al Oubeidi, Waheed Aryaie, Kubilay Badur, Ganesh Bahadur B.K., Alassane Camara, Fidel Congo, Diallo Hamidou Amadou, Bernard Alex Fokou, Gabiam ‘Innocent’ Follivi, Abel Garcia, Safet Gavranaj, Pascason-one Hakirimana, Rodwal Hayaturrahman, Ehmed Houja, Esperance Ingo-Bokana, Namgyal Jamma Geuteng, Awa Jassey, Nima Jawidi, Ajan Karunaiataan, Krishna Khagdi, Jamal Khalesallisami, Wahid Khanjar, Ahmad, Nirouz & Jan Khouja, Elimane Lo, Delroy Kenneth Lampart, Idrissa Mbengue, Richard Maungmaung, Nancy Mayambu, Ali Moeit, Mireille Mujinga, Bashir Ali Nasir, Rahman Pachenar, Wangmo Pema, Kiran Rai, Amir Abdullah Rassull, Zekeria Rezaie, Mustafa Mohammed Sayed, Asef Turkmani, Abdul Wadood Wasefi, Vivienne Wanjiru, Hashmatullah Yousafi, Abdullatif Zarifi
WALPURGIS & 't ARSENAAL icw Union Suspecte
in cooperation with
TAZ, ZVA, National Theatre London & Moussem Nomadisch Kunstencentrum
Do 29/07/2010 21:00
Theater Aan Zee
Ma 23/04/2012 20:00
Wo 25/04/2012 20:15
Vr 03/08/2012 21:30
Reviews (in Dutch)
THE INSIGNIFICANCE OF HUMAN LIFE
… But sometimes life does take a happy turn and twenty minutes later HAVEN 010 has it premiere. This coproduction of ’t Arsenaal and Walpurgis in collaboration with Union Suspecte, is once more directed by Michael De Cock, this time next to Judith Vindevogel. De Cock also wrote the text, after long talks with refugees, a matter of interest to him since many years. Here too lots of extra’s: three screens forming a moving set and five women performing fun and relevant music.
Ruud Gielens plays a truck driver who has lost his job and self-esteem. Mourade Zeguendi plays an Algerian refugee who wants to go to England. The two men meet on a parking lot in Jabbeke, which sets the beginning of a friendship. Their dialogues alternate with recorded testimonies of the real Algerian that served as the basis of the character of Mourade Zeguendi. Some of his stories are downright shocking. Belgian policemen release a dog on a refugee. The dog bites one of the man’s eyes out of its socket.
It is and will continue to be a tricky thing, I feel, to make art out of distressing realities. Because real life is easily so much stronger than our imagination. Because good intentions are no guarantee for artistic quality at all. Because keeping the balance between a clear message and predictable messaginess is a difficult matter.
Just as, after an hour and twenty minutes of HAVEN 010, I hesitantly started wondering whether I would not have preferred a documentary on Michael De Cock’s talks with the various kinds of refugees, they suddenly get me with the short hairs again. And how. The players have only just left the scene through the opened gates of the hangar in which the performance is set, or Judith Vindevogel starts Bach’s cantate ‘Ach wie flüchtig, ach wie nichtig’, all of a sudden joined by an odd twenty refugees who run onto stage and sing along. They sing, say and mean it: Ach wie flüchtig, ach wie nichtig ist ein Menschen Leben/wie ein Nebel estheet/und auch wie bald vergehet/so ist unser Leben sehet! And then there is no holding it. No more escape. Goose bumps and bafflement. These are people, some with children, who have no papers and therefore are not welcome here. People shoved in refugee centres like dogs, only to perish from boredom and uncertainty. People hunted by the police and abused by crooks who think of nothing else but their own profit. People who often have been working here for years and have built up a life here, but who will be sent away just as well. There they are. Not as an abstraction in a theatre play, but for real. They ask for our attention, they’ve got something to say. In our faces.
Already in these five minutes HAVEN 010 proves that it is possible: politically correct theatre that really works, that does what art realises in the best of possible worlds: it touches and confuses us and stays with us to make us think. And so Michael De Cock managed to turn this opening night into a happy entry after all. Much obliged.
Griet Op de Beeck, DE MORGEN, 31.07.2010
ONLY THE FAR SHORE OF THE NORTH SEA OFFERS HOPE
… A bit further, in an old hangar on the station yard, De Cock’s own company ‘t Arsenaal from Mechelen and the music theatre company Walpurgis present ‘Haven 010’. Just like in Vanfleteren’s pictures, harsh reality offers the inspiration. De Cock’s direction has the same tone: dark shadows rule the scene and the bright theatre lights mainly cause fear as the beams represent blinding search lights. Vanfleteren and De Cock are emphatically clear about their message: they ask our attention for the fate of the illegal aliens. The character Amro Khaled is a symbol for all refugees. He comes from the Maghreb, Western Sahara, and is hunted by the police. One of his friends was attacked by a police dog. The beast ate his eye. He hangs round Ostend and sleeps in the bushes.
He meets a Flemish truck driver. Giant film footage shows Ostend in the early morning. Trucks come and go, ships leave the harbour. The black silhouette of the illegal alien Amro glides over the scene, a character on the run. Between him and the driver a kind of friendship and understanding grows. In tranquil scenes the direction weaves their stories into one fabric: the hunted life of the former, the relatively safe one of the latter. Amro has no official papers, the truck driver does. A world of difference that nobody in the West gives a single thought. Probing is Amro’s testimony of brutal interrogations and the violence that comes with them. He is hooked: he cannot stay and he cannot go back. Only the far shore of the North Sea offers hope. A small but dramatically precise reference to the truck driver who tried to take across 58 stowaways, who all died in his loading space.
Haven 010 consciously leaves open the question whether or not the driver will help the illegal alien to cross the channel. At the end the doors of the hangar open, the driver takes Amro with him to the rails and says: ‘Look, just follow them until you reach the sea. Wait for Winter. Sometimes the whole North Sea is frozen and then England is less than a twenty kilometre stroll away. You’ll be there in no time.’
The set is simple and efficient. Engaged theatre without theatrics. Actuality without pathos. Ruud Gielens as the driver and Mourade Zeguendi als Amro reinforce each others doubts. How sincere is an illegal alien? With what intentions does he look for friendship? What the words don’t tell, the music does. The members of Walpurgis offer Haven 010 a tantalizing accompaniment. Singer Judith Vindevogel introduces Pirate Jenny from the ‘Dreigroschenoper’ as a hyphen between the Western and Arabic culture. The world of sound created with instruments like a melodeon, a violin and a clarinet is menacing and gritty, as if the harbour sounds themselves were enhanced violently – even frighteningly.
Kester Freriks, NRC Handelsblad, 02.08.2010
THE MOUSE AND THE ANT
To us ‘Haven 010’ (***1/2), a production of ’t Arsenaal and Walpurgis, is the real opening show of TAZ 2010. Quite unlike ‘Flying to heaven’ it sets the right tone. The projections of the deserted harbour and the rippling sea by night have an almost hypnotic effect and the contribution of an international women quintet under the direction of singer Judith Vindevogel is as subtle as it is striking. Here the actors and musicians shine in the dark.
Fittingly, the performance is set in an old hangar near the railway. The kind of hangar in which illegal aliens like to hide, unless of course when the police release their dogs on you. And when the dogs bite in your arms, or worse, chew out one of your eyes. Director De Cock was inspired by the testimonies of illegal aliens whom he had met in the course of the years. He selected one story, the story of Mourad, an Algerian young man who wants to go to England, expecting, as so many do, that the land of fish and chips is a land of milk and honey.
The Brussels actor Mourade Zeguendi – who a short while ago did an outstanding job in Union Suspecte’s ‘25 Minutes to go’ – plays Mourad. His Unions Suspecte colleague Ruud Gielens is the truck driver Eric Van der Plas, who meets Mourad near the highway. The former is the mouse, wanting to join in as a stowaway. The latter is the ant transporting food all over Europe with his truck. Both are neglected by the people and they develop a special relationship. In this way ‘Haven 010’ is not only a story about migration but also about a friendship between two lonely men.
The truck driver is actually a fictitious character who replaces De Cock, but in fact the fictionalisation lends the performance a deeper shade: as Mourad uses a fake name in the Merksplas refugee centre, Eric confesses that he too, when travelling with his truck to England on the boat to Hull, presented himself as the computer salesman Eric Uytterhoeven. Don’t we all want another and a better life? No matter how deep the water is, the grass is always greener on the other shore. That is our tragedy.
‘Haven 010’ is a docu-theatre, it mingles theatrical fiction and true facts and ingeniously permits reality to creep in further and further. There are the real images of Mourad (we only get to see the back of his head), the documents on his placement in the closed refugee centre of Merksplas, the text messages Mourad sent De Cock. There are the images showing the actor Mourade with Mourad’s parents in Algeria. And at the end of the show the many asylum seekers with whom Vindevogel created a choir stand up among the audience, the human sea in which they were hiding like stowaways, and enter the scene to perform a Bach cantate: ‘Ach, wie flüchtig, ach, wie nichtig is der Menschen Leben’. (‘Oh, how fleeting, oh how insignificant is human life’).
Fortunately there are people who record their stories, who do see the ants and mice. Thank you Michael De Cock. Or as Ariadne said to Icarus, when they were still kids telling each other stories lying down and watching the clouds: ‘One day we will be a story as well’.