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What on this week: 1-7 November

11:04 31/10/2019
Our top picks of events and activities in and around Brussels

A festival just for kids, Big Bang fills Bozar with sounds of all sorts and explores the wonderful ways we find to make them. Jump on a noise-making trampoline, visit the music playground and hear a jazz trio make child’s play of the music of Thelonious Monk. And that’s just a start. 3 November 13.00-17.30, Rue Ravenstein 23

The expat Irish Theatre Group takes on Mark O’Rowe’s Our Few and Evil Days, which made waves in Dublin when it premiered a few years ago. A suburban couple’s veneer of normalcy begins to dissolve when their daughter brings home her new boyfriend. What starts as a comedy gives way to a thriller as it wends through challenging and difficult social and emotional territory. (In English) 5-9 November, Petit Théâtre Mercelis, 13 Rue Mercelis (Ixelles)

While all of Belgium’s classical music festivals are keen to emphasise their embrace of fusion and lack of stuffiness, Ars Musica has been doing this since the beginning. Celebrating its 30th anniversary, the festival of contemporary classical compositions dares listeners to open their minds as well as their ears and take in electronica/cello combos, percussion-led scores and Stravinsky recreated as film soundtrack. 2-29 November, across Brussels and Wallonia

American Does Not Exist

Based on 20th-century American writer Henry Miller’s statement in his controversial book Tropic of Cancer – “It doesn’t exist, America. It’s a name you give to an abstract idea” – the latest exhibition at Art et Marges explores the country’s place in our collective imaginations. The museum dedicated to art brut, or outsider art, has culled from collections in the US and worldwide for America Does Not Exist, a particularly intriguing look at fantasy vs reality considering the artists who created the works. Until 2 February, Rue Haute 314

Brussels is dotted with little café theatres, which often make you feel like you’ve entered another decade. Discover them along with some charming acts during Bruxelles sur scènes. The annual festival of café theatre includes plays, concerts and cabaret. (In French) 1-30 November, across Brussels

Museums Nocturnes continues in Brussels, with highlights this week including a Meet the Romans virtual experience and performance at the Art & History Museum, a slow fashion workshop and historical catwalk at the House of European History and the 30-strong Jour de Fête marching band at the Wiertz Museum. Thursdays until 5 December, across Brussels

Jeanne d’Arc au bûcher

Joan of Arc is an enduring figure, with new interpretations of the French martyr’s life and death continuing to permeate the arts over the centuries. One of the most intriguing of the last 100 years is Swiss composer Arthur Honegger’s Jeanne d’Arc au bûcher, an opera that works backwards from her death sentence to her childhood. La Monnaie performs the piece, interpreted by choruses, spoken roles and an orchestra that includes saxophones and keyboards. 5-12 November, Place de la Monnaie 5

Did you ever play the game Chinese Whispers as a kid? Also know as Telephone, it's a children’s party classic: The first child in a line of children whispers a phrase into the ear of the second. The phrase continues down the line, with the final child saying the phrase out loud. It is always mangled or completely misunderstood – a lesson in the pitfalls of rumour-mongering. Brussels Medeber Teatro mixes it up a little, recording the game among residents with different mother tongues. The result, De bouche à oreille, can be seen at the BELvue Museum. Until 10 November, Place des Palais 7

London-based novelist Tash Aw will talk about his new book We, The Survivors with MO* magazine editor Gie Goris at Bozar. Author of critically acclaimed and award-winning titles such as The Harmony Silk Factory and Map of the Invisible World, Aw calls his new book – set in his home country of Malaysia – his most personal yet. (In English) 5 November 20.00, Rue Ravenstein 23

The first edition of the Picture Festival kicks off this week, a celebration of illustration in its many varied forms. Belgium is home to a number of illustrious graphic artists, many of whom are better known overseas than here. This festival puts them in the spotlight through exhibition, live drawing concerts and master classes. It’s held in all sorts of unique locations, so you can discover places new to you as well. 31 October to 10 November, across Brussels

Chineke!

OUTSIDE BRUSSELS

The UK’s unique Chineke! Orchestra makes stops in Bruges and Antwerp on its first tour of the continent. Europe’s only orchestra made up of a majority of black musicians, it is inspiring change in the UK’s classical music industry by highlighting its lack of diversity. For four years now, Chineke! has helped musicians find their place in an area where they are sorely underrepresented. The programme includes works by Romantic composers Weber, Coleridge-Taylor and Brahms. 8 November 20.00, Concertgebouw, Bruges; 16 November 20.00, Desingel, Antwerp

Create your own art trail at Fêtes de la Saint-Martin in the beautiful little village of Tourinnes-La-Grosse. Main exhibitions are staged in a few locations in the town, with a theme this year of time – how different people live and experience it. Added to this is a second parcours in which residents invite you to wander into their farms, gardens and homes to experience intimate exhibitions of single artists. The event also includes a colossal production of the musical Peter Pan, with 150 actors, singers and musicians, as well as a closing classical concert featuring the music of Schubert. 3-24 November, across Beauvechain (Walloon Brabant)

Photos, from top: ©Peter Acoustic; Wesley Willis, ©M Thies, Collection MADmusée, Fonds Duvel Moortgat; ©Stofleth; ©Ntando Brown

Written by Lisa Bradshaw