© Lot Doms

Hof van Eede: names, dates, works

Hof van Eede is a theatre collective founded in 2011 by Ans and Louise Van den Eede. They have written and staged three original theatre plays, writing and assembling the piece in close collaboration with the actors they work with.

Their debut Where the world is going, that’s where we are going, a dialogue, premiered in Autumn 2012, toured intensively both in Belgium and in the Netherlands, and won the prestigious ‘TAZ-KBC Jongtheaterwerkprijs’. In 2014 this piece premiered in English during the Big in Belgium-festival within the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Their first production was followed by the quartet Thirsty (2013) and a trio, The Weiss-effect (2014), the last of which is selected for ‘Circuit X’, a quality label for interesting performances by young artists.
Since this third piece Hof van Eede has expanded its writing team with dramaturge-writer Wannes Gyselinck, who also co-authors their next performance, Paradis (December 2015). Paradis will be their first experiment in music-theatre, together with composer Thomas Smetryns and Ensemble Besides (co-production LOD).

In 2017 they plan another quartet, Vanish Beach (Schoenberg goes to California), a co-production with KlaraFestival and LOD, with music by Fulco Ottervanger (for more details on the productions: see ‘Their Work’).

Their work and mission

Hof van Eede is both charmed, puzzled and fascinated by the power of words. This power can be both constructive – communication and communion with other human beings – and potentially deceptive: many of the stories we tell ourselves and others are explanatory or apologetic, but few of them are absolutely true. They are, in other words, myths. Myths have the puzzling power to both cloud the truth and reveal one that is hidden under the surface of what we call reality. By lying, art can tell the truth.

This preoccupation with words, literature and myths, or fiction, surfaces both in how Hof van Eede works, and how they characters behave towards the world and each other.

Their characters are also invariably steeped in literature, although they often use literature to avoid saying what they need to. It is often from their circumloquacious and evasive pedantries that springs the comedy, often verging towards zany farce – another recurring trait in Hof van Eede’s output. Although their writing is witty, poetic, often philosophical and always deals with books and the world of ideas, their work is far from cerebral or pedantic of itself. Rather, they always boil down to very real human emotions such as the risk of loving some-one, the fear of losing one’s youth, the difficulty to connect with each other and the world, and loneliness. In some way, all their show try to do what David Foster Wallace called ‘making heads throb heart-like,’ to short-circuit intelligence and emotion into something that transcends both.

How they work

Hof van Eede’s first three productions all started from books they read and were fascinated by. These books both answer and raise questions, that serve as a starting point for writing bits and pieces of text that are initially not necessarily connected, and often have the form of poetic, essayistic pieces. Parallel to this they develop a theatrical ‘momentum’ (what is the reason for the characters to address the audience), and a dramaturgical arc. Once characters, situation and a rough dramaturgical arc have been shaped, the material is rewritten, reworked and arranged to fit in. Since Hof van Eede’s pieces are, up till now, not plot-driven but rather explore themes and reveal through them, always implicitly, the relationships between characters, the arrangement of material is both ‘musical’ and logical: it is all about the distribution of tension versus relaxation, dissonance and harmony, speed and pauses, intensity versus calmness, seriousness and comedy, build-up, climax and coda.

In all three shows there is always one recurrent, overarching question, which they borrowed from the Dutch writer and television maker Wim Kayzer: ‘Do we want stories that are true, or is it enough if they are beautiful?’