‘Practically speaking it will be a challenge. But in fact, I realise that, more than anything else, the one thing I really wanted to do with my father, namely appear together on stage... is what we are actually going to do.’ (Kris Cuppens)
Kris Cuppens (53) has a son. His name is Jef. He is eleven years old. And a daughter of eighteen, Jacoba. His father Jaak Cuppens (77) is close to eighty. Kris literally has this cast freely at his disposal for his new project. Anyone who is familiar with Kris’ prize-winning play Lied (Taalunie Toneelschrijfprijs, 2006) or saw the performance of the same name in 2005-6, will already recognise these people as the main characters in the story. Even though in 2005 Jef had just been born, Jacoba was a schoolgirl and Jaak was still strong and healthy.
Lied was also a family story, an epic, but in words and music. This time Kris tells it physically, in movement, in terms of the body. From a simple ‘being present’ on stage to lightly dance-like. Jef is a real stage animal, Jacoba is more subdued (Kris describes her as ‘the hyphen between three egos’) and Jaak varies from day to day, but the fact that he has a past in public forums (education, politics) is still very evident in his strong statements with which he effortlessly baits everyone.
Of course we cannot promise anything, but this production has all the requisite elements for it to be a beautiful, emotional family portrait, across generations. The great merit of Lied was that the performance, inspired by the highly individualistic story of Kris Cuppens, managed to appeal to and move everyone. Because basically we all share the same experiences in life – we are born, we grow older and we die. Only with Kris everything is always just a little more intense.
‘I like movement, physical interaction, attraction and rejection, manipulating each another. But I also see it as a ‘stand-up-to-the-mic’ thing about visions of life, love or the lack of it, sexuality, past and present expectations, and failures and successes. About what makes our family a family.’ (Kris Cuppens)
Kris Cuppens was also in at the birth of De Queeste in 1998. In 2001 he appeared with Braakland/ZheBilding, where he created Lied in 2006 (Taalunie Toneelschrijfprijs and nominated for the Flemish Culture Prize for the performing arts) and the highly acclaimed, poignant Adem in 2011.
Both performances were about the transient nature of our existence, a theme that Kris plans to distil even further in Zwischen. In what became Het nieuwstedelijk, Kris plays an indispensable role as a creator.
Kris Cuppens also performs in Odysseus. A Wanderer Returns, in the third part on 4 February and during the marathon performance on 24 March.