Hey you, out there in the cold! ‘Muur’ by Inne Goris, Pieter De Buysser and Dominique Pauwels

The best part? Walking up to that wall. To that shimmering silver/yellow construction, looking like some sort of op-art mirage. There’s some static coming through your headphones, then some music. You’re wondering what’s going to happen, what to expect. You see kids running around and you think: they probably are playing here all the time. Welcome to Muur (Wall), a theatrical installation in open air, by Flemish artists Inne Goris, Pieter De Buysser and Dominique Pauwels. It premiered during the Kunstenfestivaldesarts (Brussels).

Upon arriving at the wall, you walk around it; around that giant metallic zero, constructed by Flemish architects Kersten Geers and David Van Severen. Where do they want me to go? What do I have to look for? You’re checking out the other members of the audience. Have they discovered something yet that I might have missed maybe? We’re all wearing those headphones that have been handed out to us at the entrance. Slowly you notice that some of the people aren’t wearing them. And those kids are here again. And suddenly you hear a voice, coming through those headphones. And another one. You see somebody talking. You focus and you zoom in.

Muur is based on a text by Pieter De Buysser, who was invited by the Goethe Institute for their European theatre project After the fall. Playwrights from every country in Europe were asked to write a play on the fall of the Berlin Wall. De Buysschers’s story begins in 2064, when four children arrive at the place where in 2010 four other children erected a wall on a wasteland. Those children are old by now and have spent their lives living in the shadow of that circular wall. But are those new kids really merely paying a visit?

By now you will have understood that Muur is by no means a traditional ‘play’. All of the time you’re free to walk around on that wasteland. It means that you witness several scenes from close-by and that you miss out on others, because they take place at the other side of the wall, out of sight. There’s a certain intimacy, because you hear the voices of the actors in your ears and Dominique Pauwels’ soundtrack as well, but at the same time a distance is created too. I must admit that I never felt really involved.

Muur is a brave undertaking, but it somehow failed to draw me in. It takes awfully long for a story to develop. And in the end (when the kids rebel) the story is what you already knew it was going to be. It’s a brave choice of director Inne Goris to opt for amateur actors but I was wondering if Muur wouldn’t have benefited from professional actors with a stronger presence. It is an impressive ‘installation’ and a courageous attempt to create something really special, using decor, actors, music and technology, but somehow in the shadow of that wall, that fascination installation fails to become a captivating ‘play.

‘Muur’ is produced by LOD (Ghent) and Beursschouwburg (Brussels).

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