© Danny Willems
Fri 19.02.2021 - Fri 05.03.2021

Madame Bovary

Carme Portaceli & Michael De Cock / KVS

Madame Bovary, by French novelist Gustave Flaubert, set off a bomb in world literature. This story of an adulterous wife who takes her own life is so startling that it was seen as an attack on French society, eventually resulting in a court case. Emma Bovary sent shock waves through France and the world. 

This was the book with which Flaubert invented the modern novel. After a lengthy journey through the Middle East, Gustave Flaubert settled in a French country house with a view of the Seine. For five years he worked on Madame Bovary there. He wanted to write a book about ‘nothing’ but it became a book about ‘everything’ – a book about the insatiable desire to be loved, about patriarchy, about (impossible) love, adultery, life and death. Emma Bovary refuses to conform to the boundaries society has set for her and resists them, perhaps against her better judgement, and even though it will mean her downfall. 

“Madame Bovary, c’est moi” (Madame Bovary is me) said the author. But isn’t the gaze on Emma Bovary a male one? Or rather, how universal is the feeling of unease that affects her? Although the novel is over 150 years old, the subject remains current. Equality between men and women has still not been achieved. As a society we continue to struggle with age-old stereotypes and paradigms that we inherit. 

Carme Portaceli and Michael De Cock previously worked together on Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf; now they bring another iconic female literary character to life. Maaike Neuville plays the title role. 

‘She was the amoureuse of all the novels, the heroine of all the plays, the vague “she” of all the poetry books.’ 

Gustave Flaubert 


REGIE / MISE EN SCÈNE / DIRECTION Carme Portaceli & Michael De Cock MET / AVEC / WITH Maaike Neuville
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