Text: Pieter De Buysser
Directed by: Inne Goris
Music: Eavesdropper
Production: LOD and Zeven






The text Nachtevening is published by De Nieuwe Toneelbibliotheek. It's a small book together with 2 other texts: "The last tragedy" and "'A sunny disaster". The 3 texts explore life after tragedy. The texts are in Dutch.

If you require a English translation of Nachtevening, please contact Pieter De Buysser


The evil in Medea is an archetypal evil, an inhuman cruelty that still manifests itself everyday, both geopolitically and at the kitchen table. Not everyone is involved with a woman who has killed her four children, but it requires no great feat of imagination to realise that every day we are all involved in a horror that is both real and inhuman. Whether we are a civilian, or friend, a loved one, neighbour or farmer. In Nachtevening Jason and Medea are together. The evil deed has been done some time ago. The tragedy has taken place but they are still there. In the play Jason and Medea seek an inhumanity that equals the cruelty of Medea’s deed: the paradoxical impossibility of remembering and forgetting: forgiveness. But is there a form of forgiveness that does not betray memory? And if this is not possible, shouldn’t there be a moment like this if the future is not to be merely a blind repetition of the past? 

Nachtevening, or the equinox, takes place twice a year and is the moment when day and night are equally long.

It is in this setting that this performance takes place.

A choir of young, skilled voices ensures the musical undercurrent in a composition of Eavesdropper. The singers drive the actors and the audience along, just like a classical Greek choir. Michiel Van Cauwelaert signed up for a stern set. A big cube dominates the theatre space as a threatening object. The audience enters the arena via the stairs on the outside. In that way it sinks into a place of oblivion where Jason and Medeia are located.

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{tab title=Interview with Inne Goris and Pieter De Buysser}

Judaspassie was your first joint production under the auspices of LOD. How did you end up working together?
Inne: Judaspassie was a project initiated by Dominique Pauwels. We both joined it at his invitation. Peter wrote the script. At a certain moment, it had to be staged in one way or another. That’s where I came in.

Pieter: And so we were married off to one another.

Inne: For me, it was a completely new way of working. I like to take the time to get to grips with a script or concept, to find my own thing in it, you might say. For Judaspassie, a number of things had already been determined in advance. We discovered that our working methods were somewhat different. It was like: “Oh, do you start with a script and only then begin working on it?”

Pieter: Or: “Do you first start with improvisation, with images...?” I generally start from an idea, a logos, a narrative structure that can be developed. I then arrive at a design for the stage. Or not, which sometimes happens too. My starting point is the theatricality of language and thought that a body receives. In Inne’s case, it’s precisely the opposite. She starts with an image, a physical presence on stage. From this emerges a dramaturgical narrative. The dramaturgical idea which follows from her images does not always have to be given the form of a script.

Inne: Although I like improvising, I of course don’t start from nothing. For example, for Naar Medeia, the fact of there being seventeen young people on stage represented an important step.

Pieter: For Nachtevening, I went to watch Inne and how she rehearsed with Lieve Meeussen and Jorge Jauregui Allue. During those rehearsals, I wrote a few individual lines and fragments. I was then able to develop a more definite idea on the basis of a compilation of things I wrote during that month. Inne had given me a title and a clear theatrical theme. I had seen the physical presence of the people and felt the tension between them. On that basis, I came up with a substantive proposal and beganwriting the eventual script.

Sound designer Yves De Mey is also involved in Nachtevening. Inne, this is not the first time that you two have worked together.
Inne: The great challenge for him is that he is going to compose with voices for the first time. There is a chorus of eight people. However, the chorus cannot say anything. They therefore do not sing a script. I wanted the young people from Naar Medeia to appear in Nachtevening in one way or another.
I also wanted to have the tactile quality of Yves’ soundtrack for Naar Medeia again. So I went to see the whole scenic arrangement. A sort of ring, a small core in which the two actors move about. The audience sits around it and the chorus moves freely behind the audience. It can be very exciting from an auditory point of view.

The rest of Nachtevening is not set to music. Both Yves and myself engage intuitively with the relationship between the music and what happens on stage. It often revolves around what the actors feel on the floor. That they have the feeling of being given space to improvise with it.

Pieter, has the contribution by Yves De Mey been a guiding factor for you?
Pieter: Yes, especially for the rhythm of the script. I would really like to insert long blank lines into it. The danger otherwise is that you kill a script.

Inne: The soundtrack is also very cinematic. In the past, I was far more explicit in telling Yves what I wanted. In Droesem, for example, I wanted a waltz with piano music. I was very curious how he would go about it. For Nachtevening, I think Pieter also wrote differently to what I am used to from him. More compact. I find that exciting.

Nachtevening is the epilogue to Inne’s production Naar Medeia. We see Jason and Medea after the horrifying facts. What interests you about their side of the story?

Inne: During my studies in Maastricht, I had to read a play every week. I didn’t enjoy it, to be honest. However, Medea is one of the plays that has really stayed with me. What has stayed with me most of all is the question of why. How can a mother murder her children? How can you be so goddamn awful? Furthermore, I think that from reading Martha Nussbaum (an ethical philosopher, DDR) I got the feeling that we are not actually any better. I think that every human being is capable of doing terrible things. Medea is one of us. That is the mirror that I want to hold up. My starting point for creating Nachtevening was to have Jason and Medea together in a small room with the audience around them. No escape is possible. For anyone. The murder is in the past. We have already heard and seen the story which precedes it countless times and I don’t want to tell it again. I want to look at these two people at a different time. Their story must also be told and heard.

Pieter: Somewhere in the play Medea says: “From the darkest, I have sought the darker”. In this piece, I wanted her to search for the moment when the excessive darkness is equal to an excessive light, the equinox. What she now wants – forgiveness – is as inhuman as the cruelty she has perpetrated – a mother killing her children. Jason and Medea meet each other after the tragedy. For me, the central question of Nachtevening is: how inhuman is forgiveness? Is forgiveness possible without betraying one’s memory?

This is the point at which the individual and the political touch one another. There is the presumption
in both political and other types of relationship that one can come to a reasonable agreement following a conflict. However, the damage is often too great. Yet, if the future is not to remain a blind dance of death, a promise must nevertheless be made, forgiveness must be granted.

Forgiveness conflicts with figuring out some sort of revenge, and a pardon is as illogical and absurd as a mother killing her children. The story of Jason and Medea is the story of a great many people and communities. History has proved conclusively that people are capable of excessive cruelty. In order to be able to forgive, an equal excessiveness is necessary.

Inne, the tension between the individual and the collective is a constant theme in your work. Now, for the first time, there will be two people standing opposite one another.

Inne: Previously, I didn’t want to do that. I have had to cover a lot of ground to end up with the couple. In Zeven, all the men have been cut out. The same goes for Drie Zusters. In La petite fille qui aimait trop allumettes, men play an important role again. The girl really has to cast off her yoke. She acts primarily at the rear and must literally appropriate the space. The original plan was to first create the story of Jason and Medea and then that of the children. In the end we reversed them. I’m happy about that because I am only just ready for it now.

I would change ‘forgiveness’ to ‘in vain’. Something which I think plays a role in many of your productions. As in the work of many contemporary directors and authors. It seems Beckett remains very relevant. At the same time, I get the impression that in your work the futility of things contains a seed of optimism. You do not render meaninglessness absolute.

Inne: I have a reputation for creating dark performances, whereas I think that there is always hope to be found within them. It is in the small things. In Drie Zusters, right at the end there is a sister who goes and stands in the doorway. She doesn’t go through it but you can see the expectation: one of these days she will go through it. I am regularly asked if I am busy working on great social issues. Sometimes. But I am primarily interested in seeing what happens within a small group of people, because that is already so complex and improbable.

Pieter: I find the difficult thing with Inne is that she abstracts the small-scale human aspect until you are left with a core which contains a primal force that falls outside the psychological framework. For me, a psychological framework is a register with which I sometimes work, but such a framework does not capture my primary interest. Here I have focussed on a psychological language and framework and as a matter of course a thought rumbles in the background about the relationship between imagination and politics and the history in which this imagination inscribes itself. It is not only written by individual emotions. It is also the product of political emotions. I am no more optimistic or pessimistic than Beckett. I may perhaps have a somewhat sunnier approach, but that is no more than a question of style. What I try to do is thematise what he touched upon in a different way, because our age is also fundamentally different. The weak absolutism of the 1950s is a reaction to the naive portrayals of mankind which had been offered by Catholicism. This does not bother us. We can engage in a completely straightforward manner with emotional thoughts or memorable emotions such as hope, faith and love. These have now been detached from their roots in Catholicism and the Enlightenment. This is what I want to address. How playable can these things be at the beginning of the 21st century?

In the light of our catastrophe-orientated era, wouldn’t the most obvious answer be that they are not?

On the contrary, the final works of such philosophers as Hanna Arendt and Jacques Derrida addressed the issue of mercy. Written at the end of one of the most catastrophic periods in history: the twentieth century. I would like to leap off that fatally travelled path. I think there is a sort of pessimistic regime connected with our bourgeois conservatism. The prevailing fear and negativity are things we can normally permit ourselves. After all, Flanders is still rich. If you look at it from a historical perspective, such defeatism is extremely misshapen. And I enjoy making a drama out of it.

Your next production will be Muur.

Pieter: The reason for making Muur is an invitation from the Goethe Institute to take part in a theatre project called After the Fall - Europa nach 1989. The story takes place in 2074. To summarise, at the centre of the piece are four children who have lived for more than fifty years on a piece of walled-in wasteland where people pass by to relax, curse, stare, and so on. They are a source of stories in themselves.

Inne: This concept seems right to me and I can really do something with it. The idea for Muur is actually already a year old. At a certain point I toyed with the idea of writing it myself. However, I gradually abandoned the idea. Writing is just not so easy.

Pieter: At that same moment, I had decided to stop directing.

Inne: When we had decided to join forces for Muur, I had half decided not to get involved in this story.I just find it very difficult to do something with an off-the-shelf theatre script. Fortunately, Pieter indicated that he wanted to write a story that I could take further.

Pieter: I now prefer not to get involved at all in directing productions. I’d rather be a playwright who is actively involved in the practice. Furthermore, I think Inne’s visual idiom is well suited to the way I engage with language. So, in this way, we have come together nicely again.

Daniëlle de Reg