Ontroerend Goed's A History of Everything comes to Chicago Shakespeare
Apr 25, 2012
Chicago Shakespeare Theater (CST) presents Ontroerend Goed's American premiere of A History of Everything, a CST World's Stage presentation, May 25-June 3, 2012 Upstairs at Chicago Shakespeare. Ontroerend Goed takes us from present day all the way back to the Big Bang. Based on evolutionary theory, cosmology and the infinite beauty of the physical world, the company reaches for the ungraspable astronomical history of the universe-in one evening-in their own unique, theatrical way.
The Belgian theater group Ontroerend Goed began in 1994 as a Ghent-based poets' collective of young writers whose founding members were Alexander Devriendt, David Bauwens, Joeri Smet, later joined by Sophie De Somere, forming the core of the ensemble. Ontroerend Goed, a play on words best translated as "Feel Estate," creates intimate, individual performances, as well as larger-scale theatrical plays. Following this double track, the Company explores the boundaries and codes of the performing arts, seeking to open up the medium of theater to the variable expectations and tastes of a global and diverse audience. Ontroerend Goed has received awards and worldwide recognition for its innovative work, including an unprecedented number of Fringe First Awards at Scotland's Edinburgh Festival Fringe.
Ontroerend Goed's first breakthrough production came in 2001 with a project which took in the sultry nightclub atmosphere of the Hotsy Totsy bar in Ghent. The Company's The Smile Off Your Face (2004) placed its spectators alone in a wheelchair, blindfolded, and led them around a sensory circuit in which questions about intimacy, love and happiness sparked their imagination. In 2007, the premiere of Internal saw five performers build up a meaningful relationship with five spectators in twenty-five minutes through a combination of speed dating and group therapy. The joyous spectacle, entitled Once And For All We're Gonna Tell You Who We Are So Shut Up And Listen, was created and performed by thirteen Belgian schoolchildren, aged 14 to 18. This theatrical distillation of adolescence was the wildfire hit in Edinburgh in 2008, and the production took the international theater festival circuit by storm from 2008 to 2010.
The critical response to their newest work, A History of Everything, a co-production with Sydney Theater Company that premiered earlier this year as part of the Sydney Festival, has further enhanced the company's international reputation: Time Out Sydney said, "A History of Everything earns its extraordinary title...An awesome, powerful, inspiring work." The Australian proclaimed, "Part of the great pleasure of this show is wondering how they will do the really big events...the invention of agriculture, the movement of the human race out of Africa, the age of dinosaurs, the formation of the solar system. Nothing disappoints. It is all utterly marvelous..." Adding to the universal acclaim, the New Scientist says, "Even the most knowledgeable audience member will be enticed by the artistry with which the Earth's story is told...It is a humbling portrait of how modern humans came to be, and a playful exposition on the reality of our insignificance."
Directed by theater-maker Alexander Devriendt, the cast members of A History of Everything include: Charlotte De Bruyne, Zindzi Okenyo, Tahki Saul, Joeri Smet, Matthieu Sys, Angelo Tijssens and Nathalie Verbeke. The text has been written by Alexander Devriendt and Joeri Smet in collaboration with the cast, and with fragments of Sum by David Eagleman. The scenography and costumes are by Sophie De Somere.
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