With his individualistic approach to theatre, in which his passion for literature strides side by side with an ingenious sense of filmic presentation, Guy Cassiers (1960) has conquered a position among the top of European theatre.
Guy Cassiers first crosses paths with Ivo van Hove as an actor in Rumours, the first play Van Hove created in Antwerp. Cassiers then proceeds to follow a self beaten path as a director of small plays, such as Kaspar by Peter Handke, and as an artitic director of children’s theatre Oud Huis Stekelbees in Gent. In 1996 he directs his first play with the Ro Theater: Angels in America is well received by press and audience, and receives multiple awards. Through the success of this play, Cassiers paves his way to becoming artistic director of the Ro city company in Rotterdam.
There, he makes several intriguing plays between and 1998 to 2006, in which he develops his multimedia approach to theatre with Rotjoch (Rijnders), and in the opera The Woman who walked into Doors (Doyle/Defoort) he succeeds in forming a remarkable fusion of text and visual technology. The highlight of his search appears in the Proust cycle he finalises between 2002 and 2004. This forms his breakthrough in international theatre.
For his first production as the artistic director of Toneelhuis, he collaborates with Tom Lanoye. Mefisto for ever, after the novel by Klauss Mann, forms the first part of the trilogy of power om which Cassiers sets out to find the connections within art, politics and power. Theatre critic Pol Arias: ‘…a political display, not set out to reprimand us, but to question us through the means of the stage.’
In the second part, Wolfskers, Cassiers bases his efforts on the films that the Russian Aleksandr Sokurov made about Lenin, Hitler and Hirohito. It shows ‘three world leaders who shaped the exterior of the twentyfirst century, and had their portraits taken right before their power eluded them’ (De Standaard). For Cassiers, politics are the work of man; he invades the intimate motives of those in power, and portrays them with an intricate sense of nuance. In the final part; Atropa, de strijd voor de vrede, Tom Lanoye writes, through beautiful poems, the moving tale of five women who confronted Agamemnon with his ideological choices.
In the meantime, his search for a visual and literary theatre style drove Cassiers further into the direction of the Opera: Adam in Ballingschap (Vondel) to music by Rob Zuidam premieres during the Holland Festival 2009.
His fascination for creating theatrical cycles in which to spread his ideas over a number of productions, thus developing an in-depth approach, leads him to De man zonder eigenschappen; a three-part theatre adaptation of the literary masterpiece by Robert Musil the opera Der Ring Des Nibelungen by Richard Wagner (Milan/Berlin).
Bloed & Rozen, het lied van Jeanne en Gilles, again based on a text by by Tom Lanoye, premieres across the borders in the Cour d’Honneur during the festival of Avignon 2011. The play about Jeanne d’Arc and Gilles de Rais is a tale about power and manipulation with a resounding of contemporary echo’s. For the first time, this work of Cassier’s features a theme that is also central in Josse de Pauw’s adaptation of Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad: The darkness that lurks within the human soul.
Carrier’s preference for lone wolves, unadapted and often anti social characters, delivers to his audience a range of breathtaking performances that guide us into the labyrinthian imagination and language cathedrals of the narrators. Through his visual and literary theatre in which he doesn’t shy away from the big issues and creates a unique universe in every play, Cassiers has managed to secure a grand and devoted international following.