The inveterate handyman Louis Vanhaverbeke explores other possible options beyond so-called normality in this liberating performance. Imagination as a way of life.
What if another world lies within reach? Rebellious and unclassifiable, Louis Vanhaverbeke explores the limits of his own mind as well as the limits of theatre. Combining beat box, slam, a do it yourself aesthetic and the poetry of the micro-spectacular, this high-wire handyman deconstructs the box that encloses him in this liberating performance. Imagination as a way of life.
A shed made of pipes and screens, like a fence or barrier. A refuge? A cage? The young artist rides through it on a bicycle loaded with piles of boxes. Transforming simple actions into complex and indeed dangerous tasks, he converts banality and constraints into spaces of infinite invention, passageways that lead to laughter and fascination. Mikado Remix opens a surprise package, revealing other possible options beyond so-called normality. Exciting and exhilarating, a remedy for helplessness.
Produced by CAMPO
Created and performed by Louis Vanhaverbeke
Dramaturgy Dries Douibi
Videography Freek Willems
Light and Sound Design Bart Huybrechts
Stage Mechanics Philippe Digneffe + Simon Van den Abeele
Co-produced by Kunstenfestivaldesarts (Brussels) + Beursschouwburg (Brussels) + le phénix – scène nationale Valenciennes, european creative hub
Residencies Malpertuis (Tielt) + PACT Zollverein (Essen) + Grand Theatre (Groningen) + De Grote Post (Ostend) + Arc artist residency (Romainmôtier) + Pianofabriek (Brussels)
Thanks to Oneka von Schrader + Sophia Rodriguez + Benjamin Vandewalle + Yorick Van Ingelgem + Jakob Ampe + Family Volksroom + Wim Loobuyck + Claudine Grinwis
Presented in association with Espace Libre
Written by Morena Prats
Translated by Neil Kroetsch
Premiered at Kunstenfestivaldesarts, Brussels, on May 9, 2018
Louis Vanhaverbeke (Brussels + Ghent)
A graduate of the St. Lucas School of Arts in Ghent (mixed media) and of SNDO – School for New Dance Development in Amsterdam, Louis Vanhaverbeke works in various media: music, beat box, poetry, a do it yourself aesthetic, installations, dance, performance.
After participating in the Mayday Mayday festival in Ghent in 2010, he embarked on a collaboration with the CAMPO arts centre which led to the creation of Kokokito (2015), for which he received the Circuit X for Young Talent award at Theater aan Zee in Ostend. It was followed by Multiverse (2016) and Mikado Remix (2018). Since 2017 Vanhaverbeke has been an associate artist at the Beursschouwburg art centre in Brussels.
A talented handyman, he finds everyday objects to be essential to his work. Plastic, metal, musical instruments, electronic devices and other materials are used in his performances. In Mikado Remix (2018), Vanhaverbeke has a barrier as the main structure in the piece. More than a barricade, it is also an invitation to cross the threshold and step inside.
The piece conveys a certain urgency of speech and action. What is the impulse behind that urgency? Does this work pursue the same vein as your previous shows?
The point of departure for this piece was the feeling of being locked inside a body, of being imprisoned in a cage.
In my previous show Multiverse (2016) I ran circles around myself, and around objects and record players. It was a piece about circularity, the metaphor of a man onstage trying to find himself, going round in circles in a self-referential state.
There was a small box onstage, a symbol of what suppresses a being, a body, a personality.
For Mikado Remix, I wanted to take that box as the point of departure and take the audience inside it.
What happens when we step inside that box, into the logic of a body and a being? What sort of polarity is at play between the being and its image? I felt an urgent need to explore those questions.
I’ve always been fascinated by barricades. In Secured Court (2011) I built a barrier structure, a symbol of rectitude, an enclosed space, around which athletes would play a game of basketball. I reprised those materials for Mikado Remix.
I built the set using metal pipe and tubing to create barriers and cages. I wanted to tear down that rigid, square aesthetic and toy with it, like playing jackstraws, wanted to undo that chaotic tangle of piping.
You wear several hats: performer, composer, singer and jack of all trades. What was the creative process for this piece? Did you start by writing a script, composing the music or building the sets and props?
I always start work in different media simultaneously. I sketch, write texts, create rhythms, dance, sing and build props and sets. In this case the question was how to address that polarity of self-reflection. I started by playing with surveillance camera images and video mixers to create infinite reflections of images: mirror images, echo images.
I worked on the piece for two years. I generally take my time developing a new work, mixing and combining a lot of ideas and honing the content to the right shape.
I also compose all the music.
For me this piece is a Gesamtkunstwerk or total artwork that combines several disciplines. I like to give it the attention it deserves, so that it becomes a comprehensive experience for the spectator.
Music has long been a source of inspiration, as it involves the body and is performed live. I want the spectator to see how the music is made. I like to record and play back music in real time by means of sampling and live looping.
For me, music is a tool for survival, for giving soul to things, to sing them rather than being absorbed by them. Mikado Remix also has Do Re Mi, a reference to the music underscoring the piece.
You install several constraints in the piece that greatly complicate your movement and actions, and treat them as a means of exploring alternative paths. Do the constraints act as something that will set you free?
I like to base my work on a very simple principle, similar to playing jackstraws. « It will work even if it’s complicated. » An easy way out is boring. I arrange things so that the challenge is stimulating. It would be much easier for me, of course, to choose a simpler approach, but then there would be no show.
I set myself tasks and rules, and work with objects and the set design so that I find it fun and entertaining.
Everything is this piece revolves around that principle, which follows my own logic of play. Despite that strange logic and the jumble of sets and props, this work speaks to something universal, a sort of recognition of the human in search of solutions, someone seeking his place in a closed system.
I’m also interested in failure and coincidence, for they open up new avenues. I’m not looking for a form of emancipation, but am interested in creating a system that can fail. It is by no means a solution for other systems; I am not solving any problem.
I do not have the solution. I’m simply talking about my discordance and anger, showing how this system works on me, through me, how I react to it.
Mikado Remix says something about society. It’s a snapshot, a symptom of society.