in the sexual act there's that moment of complete forgetting
which is so incredible,
and in the next moment you start to think about things
work on the play, what you've got to do tomorrow.
I think it must be quite common.
The world comes in quite fast.
Now, that may be because we don't have the courage
to stay in that place of forgetting,
because that is again close to death.
Like people who are afraid to go to sleep.
In other words, you interrelate,
and you don't know what the next moment will bring.
And to not know what the next moment will bring,
brings you closer to a perception of death.
So that, paradoxically,
the closer you get to living,
in the sense of relating constantly,
I guess the closer you get to this thing that we're most afraid of.
In My Dinner with André (1998, in Dutch), after the screenplay of the Louis Malle film with the same name, Damiaan De Schrijver and Peter Van den Eede eat a four-course dinner cooked live on stage every night by a different cook, while having an - at times hilarious - conversation about life and the theatre.
Since its creation in 1998 this production toured extensively in Flanders and the Netherlands. In 1999 it was awarded First Prize at the Theaterfestival and nominated for the Océ Podium Prize.
The French version was premiered at the end of October 2005 in Toulouse (Théâtre Garonne).
Theatre dinner becomes fascinating experiment
The chemistry of the production clearly lies in the confrontation. Eventually the original text and their own dialogues spill over into one another and My dinner with André reaches a wilful peak as theatre that makes you feel you are experiencing something unique. The sort of intensity and joie de vivre Cie. de Koe has dabbled in before, but here it is more structured. The spectator may be asked to sit and look at an elaborate meal lasting more than three hours, including the coffee and cognac, but this does not detract from the eventual gratification.
De Morgen, Steven Heene, 23/09/98
My dinner with André
When the play was written, their outlooks seemed incompatible. The contemporary spectator can however conclude that neither of the standpoints can exist in isolation, but that together they form an approach to reality which resembles the world we live in, where certainties and mysteries co-exist. An example of this is the play itself. In My dinner with André we see two men eating and philosophizing about reality. But that hyperrealism is a sham: they are two actors who act out a script they have learnt by heart which was written by others. The play is first and foremost entertainment. If we don't stand by that agreement and think that we are attending a philosophy lecture, it becomes endless waffle, but if we play along with the actors we see an entertaining production that juggles with our own ideas.
Vrij Nederland, Gerben Hellinga, 03/10/98
My Dinner with André
The production has fiction and reality spill over seamlessly one into the other. The dividing line between character and person, role and actor is continuously crossed and becomes increasingly blurred. The two actors seem to step effortlessly into and out of their role. The tension is maintained for three and a half hours and the sheer length of the play creates a sense of 'togetherness' between actors and audience. We become both table companion and partner. Because the stratification of this meta-theatre production is expressed in so many different ways, we have decided to award the First Theatre Festival Prize to My Dinner with André.
Jury report Theatre Festival 1999
This Dinner with André is the most stimulating performance of this autumn at the theatre. A performance worth a manifesto, demonstrating through purely theatrical means how the theatre loses its vitality whether it moves away from real life or satisfies itself with an imitation of life. A real treat, confirming moreover that tg STAN from Flanders is one of the most captivating and inventive companies of our time.
When the theatre sits down to dinner , Le Monde, Fabienne Darge, 09/11/05
The words seem to flow from the mouths of the actors without any premeditation, as if they discovered the text along with the audience. This makes for an instantaneous rapport between the two sides. These actors don't perform, they're having a conversation. And this approach is far more than a simple formula: each new performance leads to another assessment of the actor's craft. The actors are artless to the point of leaving their parts behind. They step into and out of their parts, they blur the demarcation lines as if endlessly replaying the scène from A Midsummer Night's Dream in which the labourers rehearsing the comedy Pyramus and Thisbe muddle up their true identity and the characters they have to play. The actors of tg STAN have fun adding new elements to the Russian doll: a drama lesson inside a piece of clownery inside a play inside a film adaptation
Theatre at will!
Tg STAN, dishing out on stage , Libération, René Solis, 10/11/05
text André Gregory and Wallace Shawn after the screenplay of the Louis Malle film with the same title
adaptation Damiaan De Schrijver and Peter Van den Eede
a performance by and with Damiaan De Schrijver and Peter Van den Eede
French translation Martine Bom
costumes Inge Büscher
production tg STAN and De KOE
coproducers of the French version Théâtre Garonne (Toulouse), Théâtre de la Bastille and Festival d'Automne (Paris)
premiere 17 September 1998, Toneelhuis, Antwerp
premiere French version 11 October 2005, Théâtre Garonne, Toulouse
The performance is dedicated to Yolande Lippens and Laurent Hubrecht.