Maarten Van Den Abeele

The Blind Poet

Reviewer's Rating

It was the second time that the Greek audience had the opportunity to see a show of the Belgian Needcompany. The Blind Poet is the latest play by Jan Lauwers, in close cooperation with the composer Maarten Seghers, which premiered at the Kunstenfestivaldesarts in Brussels in the spring of 2015 and was presented at the Athens and Epidaurus Festival in June 2016.

Jan Lauwers starts out from the performers’ family trees and is writing a new story based on their various nationalities, cultures and languages. He goes back a thousand years to ponder the notion of identity in today’s multicultural Europe. Lauwers quotes the work of Abu al ‘ala al Ma’arri, a blind Arab poet who spanned the 10th and 11th centuries, and Wallada bint al Mustakfi, an Andalusian poet from the 11th century. Their work describes a time in which women held positions of power and atheism was commonplace.

In the beginning of the show we see on stage seven performers from seven different nationalities, introducing themselves one by one and telling the audience their own personal story. Everyone tries to reveal his/her identity, tries to “scream” his/her uniqueness and at the same time, every performer tries to prove that his identity and his uniqueness is a part of a whole. The seven stories are seven routes which started from a point of our world and now are in the other side of it. On their way they met different people, heard other stories, incorporated in mass of societies but are still so unique.

Except from the family trees of the members of Needcompany, Jan Lauwers used the magical combination of different kinds of art; dance, music, theatre. Without doubt the music composed by Maarten Seghers is one of significant parameters of the Blind Poet, as well as the sense of humor that gives the show the breath it needs. On the positive side of the show we could add the imaginative costumes by Lot Lemm as well as the inexhaustible energy of performers.

On the other hand, the Blind Poet has also its weak moments notably in dramaturgy as the text is sometimes larger than it could be, thus creating a gap between the personal story and the general frame. In addition, the seven stories are not always equally interesting and appealing and this point intensifies the gap.

Despite the positive and the negative points, the Blind Poet is a significant show in our days; It is a show with seven performers of different origin who speak many and different languages and via their different cultures try to convey the message of unity by dancing, acting and singing perfectly. Do you believe that this is a negligible effort? Living in such a Europe that every day builds walls and drives out refugees, I personally believe that “The Blind Poet” is an alive show interacting with society and this strengthens its artistic value.


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