For my third directed piece at the Toneelacademie I worked with a text of playwright Lot Vekemans about the uncomfortable meeting of a former couple at the cemetery of their deceased son. It was also my first experiment with scent in theatre.
A COFFEE MACHINE
Gif, or poison in English, is a Dutch play about a he and a she who used to be an us, but who have not been around each other for nine years. They meet again in a room of a cemetery with nothing but a hyper-functional coffee maker to keep them company. It is uncomfortable, it is quiet, impersonal and yet something feels right. There’s a problem with the grave of their son, something they haven’t talked about, and now, finally, they’re about to.
I kept my adaptation of the play quite natural, even though it’s an absolute wicked situation. There’s a he, and a she, both on an old orange rug, in their old clothes, comfortable, as if they were still living their lives of nine years ago. That rug traps them in the imaginary world of their past, something they both long for, but know, is long gone.
SCENT IN THEATRE
To broaden my abilities of using the audiences’ senses in theatre, I wanted to incorporate scent into this production. Your nose is not the first sense organ you might think of, but that is exactly why it passes on the most to your unconscious. The idea of connecting with the unconscious of your audience that way for storytelling, is absolutely thrilling, and so I began.
In Gif, there is a massive elephant in the room: a child. A baby that was once born and loved by these two individuals, but has been dead for several years. The death of this child did not only mark the end of a life, but also the end of a marriage. And even in the conversation these two have now, after all these years, they still can’t bring themselves to talk about it. Their pain runs too deep. But, since the audience isn’t aware of that child, as he’s not spoken of, I thought the perfect way to introducing him was letting the scent of baby, through soap, into the theatre. Something you won’t actively notice, until the very last moment.
Gif could be seen at the end of October 2019 at the Toneelacademie Maastricht. It was played by Seppe Salomé and Emma van den Elshout.