New York, Sydney and then… Eeklo. The incredible story of the teenagers of Ontroerend Goed

It sure is an incredible story. A year or two ago a Flemish theatre company set up a performance with teenagers. It went by rather unnoticed. Until strange things started to happen: those teenagers went to Sydney, Montreal and New York and all of a sudden Ontroerend Goed, that company, became the talk of the town in Flanders. Their performance Pubers bestaan niet, or, Once and for all we’re gonna tell you who we are so shut up and listen, as it is known in the rest of the world, got praised by The New York Times. I hadn’t seen Once and for all either, I must confess, so I was really happy to catch performance n° 170 (!), and one of their last, in the Flemish town of Eeklo, last night. 

They could have easily added a year or two to their touring schedule, due to the success of those performances in New York and Sydney. But the teenagers are growing up. And the guys from Ontroerend Goed want to move on, so director Alexander Devriendt is preparing his next performance with teenagers: Teenage riot, which will première May 7th in Ghent.

All those rave reviews did make me curious. (There’s even a rumor that Alexander Devriendt will be working on a special project for Cate Blanchett, director of the Sydney Festival that invited Ontroerend Goed, last summer.) Had I really missed out on something special? And the answer is: yes. That much I know since last night. Once and for all is an incredibly clever, funny, witty, colourful and rowdy performance, with the remarkable flow of a perfectly executed choreography, and all that by a bunch of wild teenagers.

‘We will try to make you feel old’, one of the girls said at the beginning, teasingly. Mission accomplished. But the sheer energy of the performance is contagious as well. I left the theatre smiling, feeling really invigorated. (And parents will add to this: and slightly worried as well.) I won’t elaborate on the way this play is structured, because you won’t have the opportunity to go and see it anyway. Once and for all is travelling to Toronto, this month, and the last performances will be in Ghent, in April. Already sold out, of course. For those of you living in Belgium: try to rob someone of his or her ticket.

Read the interview in The New York Times (January 6, 2010) here.

Read the review in The New York Times (January 11, 2010) here.

For more articles and reviews check the ‘news’ section of the Ontroerend Goed-site here.


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