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“I want to talk about the relationship between sadness and power, because it is obvious that nowadays the greatest political weapon is to make people sad, and guilt, shame, frustration, powerlessness, hatred and despair are its by-products.” Stated by director Anne-Cécile Vandalem. The combination of music, film and acting accompanies our sense of helplessness without pathos and with the unique characteristic of Das Fräulein that enables it to find humor even in the darkest of circumstances.Synopsis
Sadness is a small island in the North of Denmark. After the slaughterhouses—the island’s main source of income—went bankrupt, most of the inhabitants left. In 2016, only eight islanders remain. The mayor of the island of Sadness is a member of the Popular Awakening Party, a right wing populist party founded by islander Käre Heiger and currently led by his daughter, Martha Heiger. National elections are approaching fast: Martha Heiger is expected to win and become a new prime minister. Her mother, Ida Heiger, is about to make revelations about the Popular Awakening Party’s involvement in the slaughterhouses going bankrupt and closing down and in the death of two farmers but she is assassinated. The killer, Joseph Larsen—a pastor and former accountant at the slaughterhouses, heavily involved in this affair—disguises the murder as a suicide.
The islanders wake up the next morning to find Ida Heiger hanged, her body draped in the flag of Denmark. Her daughter has no doubt: her mother’s suicide is meant to destabilize the party and prevent it from winning the elections. Martha Heiger returns to the island of Sadness in order to secretly recover her mother’s body. There, she makes a suggestion to the islanders: the old slaughterhouses will be turned into studios for the shooting of propaganda films warning against the dangers threatening Denmark.
Each islander is implicated in a compromising affair and has no choice but to submit to the party’s will. They resign themselves to signing the project. Only two teenage sisters, Ellen and Malene, attempt to resist. Convinced they are guided by the visions of the youngest who communicates with the ghost of Ida Heiger, the sisters undertake to restart the slaughterhouses in order to fulfill Ida Heiger’s last wish to be cremated there. They candidly commit to this quest, which leads them to try and assassinate Martha Heiger. But this futile form of resistance leads them indirectly to their death. The same goes for all of the islanders: pushed to their last limits, they end up killing each other. All that is left for Martha Heiger to do is to leave the island, incognito, taking with her footage that will become the first film produced by the party.
Anne-Cécile Vandalem (b. 1979) started her career as an actress, working with directors and theatre collectives such as Charlie Degotte, Dominique Roodthooft, and Transquinquennal. She also appeared in films directed by, amongst others, Anne Leclercq, Frédéric Forestier, Xavier Serron, Frédéric Fonteyne, Dominique Standaert and Karine Devillers. In 2003, she decided to embark upon the writing and conceiving of theatre shows, and together with Jean-Benoît Ugeux, created Zaï Zaï Zaï Zaï and Hansel and Gretel. In 2008, she created Das Fräulein (Kompanie) within which she would develop her work.
Concept, text and realisation ｜ Anne-Cécile Vandalem
Music Direction ｜ Vincent Cahay, Pierre Kissling
Set ｜ Ruimtevaarders
Sound ｜ Jean-Pierre Urbano
Light Design ｜ Enrico Bagnoli
Costumes ｜ Laurence Hermant
Video ｜ Arié van Egmond, Federico D’Ambrosio
Cameraman ｜ Federico d’Ambrosio / Lou Vernin
Technical Director ｜ Damien Arrii
Assistant Director ｜ Sarah Seignobosc
Props ｜ Fabienne Müller
Make-up ｜ Sophie Carlier
Dramaturge Assistant ｜ Sébastien Monfè
Hairdresser ｜ Gaétan d'Agostino
Soprano, instrument, vocal coach ISFV ｜ Françoise Vanhecke
Lighting Technician ｜ Kevin Sage
Sound Engineer ｜ Antoine Bourgain
Video Technician ｜ Tonin Bruneton
Assistant Producer ｜ Marie Charrieau
Executive Producer ｜ Audrey Brooking
Production ｜ Das Fräulein(Kompanie)
Coproduction ｜ Théâtre de Liège / Le Volcan
Cast ｜ Vincent Cahay, Anne-Pascale Clairembourg, Epona et Séléné Guillaume, Pierre Kissling, Vincent Lécuyer, Alexandre von Sivers, Catherine Mestoussis, Jean-Benoit Ugeux, Florence Janas, Françoise Vanhecke
Founded in 2008, Das Fräulein (Kompanie) is designed to develop and promote the work of Belgian artist Anne-Cécile Vandalem. The resulting productions are original works that the artist conceives, writes and directs. Das Fräulein (Kompanie) is currently subsidized by the Federation Wallonia-Brussels. In 2003, Anne-Cécile Vandalem began to create and write plays: Zaï Zaï Zaï Zaï (2003) and Hansel and Gretel (2005). Already, fiction is her preferred medium and her essential means of expression. From 2008 to 2013, habitation plays a major role. The artist sees it as the perfect place of confinement, by which and with which everything happens. Starting from an ultrarealistic universe, Anne-Cécile defines the framework of so-called domestic tragedies, within an individual frame with (Self) Service, a family one with HABIT(U)ATION and a collective one with After The Walls (UTOPIA).
But Looking for DYSTOPIA, a hinge show, which is currently being written, opens a new cycle of work for the artist. In 2014, Anne-Cécile Vandalem leads off exploring the modalities of posture and imposture. She questions the subject/individual’s capacity for action and transformation of reality within different societal spheres and addresses the issue of disclosure and fragility as honest posture and / or strategic one in her writing. Her new productions Still Too Sad to Tell You, TRISTESSES and WHAT CAN I DO FOR YOU? testify in their own way to these new aesthetic concerns.