SmallWaR picks up where BigMoutH left off.
BigMoutH offered a platform to leaders through history and from across the world, people who invariably spurred masses on to war: praising the fallen, and smooth-talking to their families and loved ones. SmallWaR shifts the focus from statesmen and commanders to the small fry and the effects of stirring words. Once again all alone on stage, Dhaenens now tells the tragic fate of those who fell victim, those who have to act upon those words, who are forced to live in the wake of man as a belligerent creature. The noble, heroic, exalted side of war gets ample coverage. SmallWaR investigates the reverse side of the medal, the clash between underlings and the massive structures crushing them.
“You’re so numb that you go into battle quite serenely, without tears and without fear, yet we know full well that we are en route to sheer hell. In full uniform, however, your heart does not beat the way it wants. You’re not yourself, you are barely a human being, at most a well-oiled automaton that performs without really thinking. My God, I do wish we could be human beings again!” (Kresten Andresen, private in the German Army, Dane, 23 years old)
The First World War was the mother of all modern wars. It was the first time that killing had been industrialised. Modern warfare took shape back then and has barely changed since. While set in a 1914-field hospital, fragments and splinters from several other wars throughout history pass by reflecting on the universal man and his innate warring side.
Through an ingenious video projection all characters get evoked by 1 actor leaving the Nurse and sufferer as one, the living and the dead: almost interchangeable. High and low up the ladder: an arbitrary hierarchy.
“After this war, there will be many other wars, and in the intervals there will be peace. So it will alternate for many generations. By examining the things cast up in the backwash, we can gauge the progress of humanity. When clean little lives, when clean little souls boil up in the backwash, they will consolidate, after the final war, into a peace that shall endure. But not till then.” (Ellen Newbold La Motte, nurse in a French field hospital, American, 1915)