Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Heart of Darkness - Dark Heart - Duister Hart

 I love the theater, I love monologues and Josse De Pauw is one of the real good ones. Guy Cassiers is a formidable director who with seemingly meager means visible on the stage manages to evoque an array of moods and situations. If you have a chance to go and listen and watch and feel, don't miss 'Duister Hart'.
 I also love this particular theater, the Bourla, with its ornate interior: the sciences and the continents are represented on the ceiling. This monologue is written by De Pauw based on the excellent Dutch translation by Bas Heijne of the novel Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad and deals with the Congo and a trading post where Kurtz gathers the most ivory of all the agents. The language is rich and at times chilling.
 A good crowd showed up to listen to this monologue dealing with colonialism and the effects of greed and loneliness, the loss of a moral compass when one has nobody to talk to and the horror, the horror when looking inward at the state of ones soul. One will recognize the final scene as used by Francis Ford Coppola in Apocalypse now. 

Kurtz has plundered the region, has been a violent and cruel representative of the firm, yet he is remarkable, intriguing, imposing, awe inspiring violent and even lovable man. The story is told by Marlow the Captain of a ship sailing up the Congo River in Africa for a Belgian Company. His goal is meeting Kurtz, who has been member of an international society to abolish rude manners and customs. Yet in Kurtz he meets a dark heart, without moral references or control. Josse De Pauw plays all roles thanks to a state of the arts technical approach, projecting the roles that have been  'taped' before and sometimes in the dialog, the actor on the stage is filmed and projected on the projected screen. Thus the meeting with Kurtz, becomes also explicitly a meeting with himself. One wonders why the company never intervened when they knew about about the plunder of the land and the violence against the indigenous inhabitants. The only reason would be greed, in other words capitalism and colonialism. Yet the play leaves one wondering whether one could lose one's own compass.  Great art is food for the soul and food for thought. When the thin gilded layer of civilization is scratched away all that remains is a dark heart.

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