Brussels Shakespeare Summer Festival returns from 1-11 June
The second Shakespeare Summer Festival returns to Espace Lumen in Brussels from 1 to 11 June, promising a feast of drama and action.
Brussels Shakespeare Society's exciting lineup includes the bard’s ultimate tragedy Macbeth, plus a series of one-act plays that are the creative result of a lockdown writing competition.
They include Shortly To Go by Ilias Konteas and Dimitrios Stasinopoulos, which premieres at this year’s FEATS Festival in Luxembourg (26-29 May). Director Tim Myers explains the premise: “In the loneliness of his room in plague-ridden London, Shakespeare grapples with finishing King Lear. In the same space 400 years later, at the height of the pandemic, Mary Fortnite struggles to re-invent herself as an author.”
He continues: “Does love save us? The play is mysterious, playing with our perception of time. In a way that was what happened during the isolation of lockdown. With none of the usual rhythms for us to rely on, it distorted our grasp of time.”
Meanwhile, Geoffrey Mamdani’s Yellow is a story of office politics and romance set in London in 20210. Rosie Arden’s new job in law firm Hathaways is to defend a notorious fraudster from justice. It brings her face to face with a man who - like one of Shakespeare’s famous antiheroes - has lost everything to a moment of madness.
Mamdani has long been fascinated by what becomes of the losers in Shakespeare’s plays after the curtain falls. “What is it like to be the butt of someone else’s joke, or the victim of their evil schemes?”
It’s a question that inspired him to pen the play. “What I’ve loved about rehearsing it has been the way that, by transposing the story to a modern office, we’ve been able to tap into experiences that we all share.”
Stephen Challens’ drama Will.I.am. Am I? delves into the thorny question of the true authorship of Shakespeare's plays as seen through the eyes of the various contenders for the claim.
The play is directed by Guilhem Chevalier who describes theatre as a living art. “For this reason I have been focusing on the interpretation, actors and actresses. When I first read the play I was immediately inspired by how ‘meta’ it is: a play about writers hiding themselves behind an avatar to write more plays.” He says this laid the perfect groundwork to stage theatrical tricks without looking like a “show off”.
Macbeth needs little introduction, although for the first time in its history, BSS is adding French surtitles to the production. One of Shakespeare’s shortest tragedies, it’s also one of the fastest paced. Director Stephen Challens says: “I have long wanted to direct Macbeth. It’s full of violence, politics and love and ours is steampunk themed!”
The Shakespeare society also revives its traditional mid-festival Sunday Social gathering. Free for all ticket holders, the family-friendly event is an opportunity to engage with the theatre community and enjoy performances by fellow youth theatre groups and a Shakespeare-themed karaoke. A bar will be serving food and refreshments.
1-4 & 9-11 June 20.00; 4 & 11 June 14.00 Macbeth
5 June 12.00-18.00 Sunday Social
6 June 20.00 Will.I.Am. Am I? + Yellow
7 June 20.00 Yellow + Shortly To Go
8 June 20.00 Shortly To Go + Will.I.am. Am I?
Tickets for individual performances and combi tickets are available at thelittleboxoffice.com/bss
Photos: Macbeth witches (from left) Kristina Kardum, Sara Hammerton, Hannah Riley; Banquo and Macbeth (from left) Martin Henry, Neale McDonald. Sorry! Our prize giveaway has now closed and the winners have been notified.