What ever happened to that saxophone, Mr. De Pauw?


Today Josse De Pauw embarks on his unique three-week theatre trip down memory lane in Brussels. Nostalgia is highly contagious, I have noticed. While I was interviewing the renowned Flemish actor for the newspaper I’m working for, I suddenly remembered that he must have been one of the first artists I ever interviewed, some 25 years ago. He continued being an actor (and a very succesful one), I became a journalist. But what happened to that saxophone?

These days Josse De Pauw gets his own festival, at the KVS and Théâtre National, two of Brussels’ biggest theatres. Back then? In ’85? I remember wanting to write a thesis about his play Usurpation, his first after the split of his successful theatre trio Radeis. I asked De Pauw for permission to film one of the performances. The deal? He wanted a copy of the tape, because he didn’t have the money to capture Usurpation on film himself.

Some time later I interviewed De Pauw for Oor, the Dutch music mag I was writing for, back in those days. I don’t remember anything about that interview, but I do remember the picture, taken by photographer Filip Wouters: Josse De Pauw with a saxophone. A saxophone? Is there a part of Josse De Pauw we don’t know anything about?

‘I still have that saxophone, but I seldom play it. I am not a saxophone player. But the funny thing is that my instrument has a very good reputation among Belgian saxophone players. Archie Shepp has played on it, as he was recording the soundtrack for Just friends, the movie I played in, in ’93. And believe it or not: Shepp even wanted to trade his instrument for this one. So yes: Belgian musicians know that I have an extremely good saxophone at home. They know they can come and get it, if they want to. Jeroen Van Herzeele did so, for instance.’

‘I love being on stage.’ De Pauw said during that interview. (I did manage to find a copy of that Oor from ’85 in my basement.) ‘But there are things that you will never see me do. You’ll never catch me in a maillot with a sword, doing Shakespeare. Even when I was a kid I hated to dress up.’

I’m a fan of De Pauw’s work. The man obviously likes to act. Even if the play he’s in is not that good, there’s always his eagerness, his hunger, the ‘jazziness’ in his acting and his infallible diction. It’s always a joy to hear him ‘talk’. So, if you’re not that familiar with his work: do go and catch as many of the performances during (‘1952-?’) as possible.  

More info about De Pauw’s marathon (‘1952-?’) here. You’ll find Filip Wouters’ portfolio here.


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