A writer (Arnon Grunberg) thinks that the time has come to take up the defence of mankind, to exonerate his species, too long and too often humiliated, from all guilt. He takes on an actor (Josse De Pauw) to deliver his defence speech to the court. Possibly out of habit, the actor engages a singer (Claron McFadden) and a pianist (Kris Defoort) with the aim of making the hymn of praise sound more convincing. Together, they will try to raise man out of the mud bath in which he is plunged by half-baked intellectuals, confused philosophers and perverted novelists. The question is, will our four heroes succeed? This production gives you the answer.
A good fifteen years ago, Arnon Grunberg wrote Mankind Be Praised, a pamphlet in which he declared that although mankind may well be greedy, lecherous, violent and cowardly, it can in its defence be said that ‘this is all it knows’. All these years later, the writer still stands by the words he wrote at the time. At Josse De Pauw’s request, Mark Schaevers adapted the piece for the stage, while De Pauw thought up a concept and performs it onstage with Claron McFadden, Kris Defoort and Arnon Grunberg.
Enough! Enough! Stop cheering me. I don’t want any applause. I don’t want money either. I’m doing this free of charge. I’m doing it because mankind is a splendid race, an intelligent race – the pick of the bunch. We are thinkers, great thinkers. We are cleaners too, if need be. We invented money, the microwave, brotherliness, the cuckoo clock, the woollen jumper and equality. Even the Red Cross was invented by my client, and humour too.