The Flood

The Flood, a theatre monologue by Clara van den Broek


The Flood is set at the sea. There is a house by the sea. Here lives an amorous couple, a man and a woman. They have nicely appointed their lives: a beautiful setting, time together, time for themselves. But, one morning, bodies have washed up on the beach, a few adults first, then a child.


He does what he can to continue his life as undisturbedly as possible. She becomes increasingly affected by what happened. While the loving couple used to be so good at being together in silence, their silence has now become an abyss of incomprehension. Maybe she could have saved the child - could have held it in her arms - she thinks, if only he had helped her? Or is she actually being cowardly, and is she blaming him as an excuse for her not having acted? Why doesn’t he say something?


The Flood is about our (in)ability to empathize with the other, about how we behave when something threatens our happiness, about the impact of the world on our private lives.


Paul Verrept wrote the text. Clara van den Broek is playing.


Clara van den Broek: “In the coming period SkaGeN will be working on the theme of the boundary between culture and barbarism. We want to turn the current, intercultural world into theatre, transform the world into emotional, formal, physical, linguistic signs, that have feelings, thoughts and questions crystallized.


Does the accumulation of European and global crises, both economic and ideological, herald the collapse of our world? Will we be flooded by refugees? Are the Western values - the Enlightenment, the French Revolution, the Human rights, our heritage - put under pressure?


Already we fall back on our daily stimulants such as comfort, money, responsibility, outward indignation. We also seek to strengthen our borders, in the name of our culture, our comfort, and so on. We try to hold off barbarism. Because we are civilized.


In this performance it’s all about how we relate to a drama from the outside that enters our inner world. We do not wish to be harmed by that drama, but we have no defence against it. It touches us.


Paul Verrept: “The flood is a tragedy in every respect. The couple’s personal drama is becoming insufferable in the light of the other drama - the refugees - because it is so horribly selfish. Their story takes place so to speak in a beautifully landscaped park, while those refugees walk among the wild animals and are at risk of their lives. Apart from that, the couple’s personal drama, however annoying, is also suffering. They suffer from it. Only... if you see the two together, it’s shocking.”


“The flood is about a moral crisis that has really affected me personally. The theme was necessary. But it’s a very delicate subject to make theatre about, even to write about. It is about the suffering of others, while every attempt at empathy is a bit outrageous. I wouldn’t pretend that I understand. I do not recuperate such drama for myself, to make a nice little story. But it wasn’t a free choice to do something with this subject, I couldn’t do otherwise. This is a crisis. Our society cannot deliver what it has pretended to be.”


***


An intense trip through the heart and conscience of a woman.


Verrept has the washed up bodies slowly drive a wedge between the two occupants of the white house by the sea. The once so perfect, quiet, tender love bends, cracks and breaks. Van den Broek demonstrates that especially with a frown, an intonation, a motion while she talks about the actions that arrise from that bending, cracking and breaking. [...] You empathize. You recognize the will to do something for the stranded people, but also the inability (or unwillingness) to actually do so. [...] ‘The Flood’ muses about how we deal with the flood of emotions, people and images in this Europe, without wanting to be do-gooders / world-improvers. Paul Verrept sought and found words that are pregnant with intimacy and passion, but also falter from helplessness. His text carries ‘The Flood’ and has Van den Broek excel in intimacy and sobriety.



(< Els Van Steenberghe – Knack)




***




A drama about refugees: it’s increasingly present on our stages. But what do we really know about them?



Paul Verrept is turning the logic around. He has written a beautiful text about the impact of stranded asylum seekers on a western couple. Clara van den Broek plays the female voice in this silent but very precise monologue. [...] ‘The Flood’ is spoken poetry rather than expressive theatre. But this silence is also the force. It’s pretty clever how Verrept - with a few well-chosen metaphors - links a broken love to the sinking of the refugees. So the woman says: “Our boat is sinking. You fall overboard. And I end up in the water myself.” Grabbing you by the throat.


(< Filip Tielens – De Standaard)







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