On stage are 13 teenagers between the ages of 14 and 18 who, with Alexander Devriendt and Joeri Smet, developed the words and actions of the performance in a way that captures the rebellious spirit of their lives and makes the raw emotion, intentional defiance and uncontrolled outbursts visible and tangible on stage.
In ONCE AND FOR ALL WE'RE GONNA TELL YOU WHO WE ARE SO SHUT UP AND LISTEN, the untamed energy of adolescents is not presented as a destructive force, but rather as an exultation of the pleasure derived from passing limits and exploring personal boundaries without anyone telling you how or why. Here's what the cast has to say about the show:
The performance does something to us: everybody is more silly, more intense, more extreme. That makes the show so special. It’s great to be so unrestrained. In this production, I’m a complete adolescent. I can be shamelessly arrogant, and I don’t need to care about anybody. I think that three-fourths of the audience will find it brilliant what we convey, glad to be flashed back to their own adolescence. And a fourth of the audience will feel like it’s not for them. As for me: they can’t take away the experience of the past few months. I’m really in love with this show.
Here, I can do what I like. For instance, I can beat Ian. Or throw eggs. The performance is this: that they shouldn’t always get frustrated at adolescents. That we might go too far, but that everybody has done that at some time in their lives. Am I still an adolescent? Pfff... I don’t know. I became so well-behaved. Really, before, I used to climb on roofs all the time. Or I slapped a teacher in the face... I don’t do that anymore. Being an adolescent is just a phase in life.
The performance is some kind of trip. You’re so intensely involved that you almost forget about being on stage. That has a lot to do with the music. And with the “yeah” feeling. For me, the performance is also an outlet: I do things onstage that I wouldn’t do elsewhere. I’ve never felt like an adolescent. It does happen to me sometimes, and I cry. But I’m certainly not the rebellious adolescent who contradicts or always arrives late. For me, being an adolescent is to search. To search for who I can become, later on. This is possible now because I’m in a protected circle. I can afford to fall down.
Alexander (our director) often talks about what he did when he was an adolescent, and I think that now, he wants to show how adolescents feel. It’s a strange word anyway, “adolescent.” And a strange subject. There isn’t really a sound definition, but it always sounds derogatory. That’s why I agree with the Dutch title – adolescents don’t exist.
I consider the stage a playground. Purely experimental. Because, as Christophe, I would never dare to shout “whore!”. Or to give a super-erotic hug. And on stage I can. I absolutely feel like an adolescent. Recently, I’ve started to stand up for myself. People always equal puberty with emotional inconstancy. But even now, at the age of 18, I feel the same way. Cool people, who are open to everything, will find this show top.
The performance is ours. The first scene, for instance, we made it ourselves. That’s why it will always be cool to play it, especially the first version, which never gets boring. I think I am an adolescent. I want to do things that I’ve never done before. Also, things that are not allowed. It gives me a kick. I want to try all sorts of things. I want to know more about the world. Puberty is a transition to something else. It’s allowed me to do all sorts of things. And I use that opportunity.
In the performance, I’m somebody who likes to flirt, to be licencious. I think it’s a cool part to play. In real life, I don’t want to be like that, but here I can allow myself to behave in that way. The performance is about the things that are on an adolescent’s mind. About how we are. About the fact that we’re not stereotypes. About what we like to do, and that this doesn’t necessarily differ from what other people like to do. That we’re not a different species.
In the performance, I play a character that is very close to my own: sloppy, lazy and playful. Am I an adolescent? I don’t know. What’s that, an “adolescent?” Adolescent is a negative word. My father sometimes calls me that, when I do stupid things, or when I’m being rebellious. Or when I ignore him. Which is what I do more and more often. I used to say sorry, but now I don’t feel like it anymore. I feel like hanging around with friends. Just... to do what I want.
What I like about this performance is that it’s not “artistically beautiful” in the traditional sense, because I don’t feel familiar with that. I prefer to destroy things. The performance is about the clichés surrounding adolescents. I think that we confirm those clichés, but at the same time we don’t. My father sometimes calls me adolescent but I don’t consider myself one. Not anymore. I’m very curious about what people will say about this performance. I think lots of people will think: I want to do it too!
The audience will see teenagers’ “stuff.” Not that it’s always apt, mind you. I mean, it’s not only because we’re adolescents that we’re like that. I am an adolescent, absolutely. Sometimes I feel supergreat, and two seconds later, bad! Rotten, insecure, dark thoughts. That’s what people say to me when I’m being boring or sad. “She’s in her puberty again.” But it’s good like that. I need a period to be allowed to do things without being blamed. It’s puberty, they say. That’s practical. Then they leave me alone.
I enjoy being really wrong for once. To be someone else and somewhere else. I’m not the naughtiest in the group, but I think it’s cool to bully someone, like in this show. I think I’m an adolescent. At least, that’s what my parents tell me when I’m nagging. Or when I do something that they totally don’t expect from me. I believe that the image, presented by this performance, is correct: that we break free from time to time and don’t feel like following the rules.
Sometimes I feel like an adolescent, sometimes I don’t. It depends. But what is that, an “adolescent”? People often think that adolescents don’t know very well what they’re doing. But actually, we’re very aware of it. Like with sex and drugs. They say, “These teenagers, well, they’re just bungling around.” But actually, I think very hard about what I’m doing. The drug scene is one of the coolest to play.
I love the drug version. I have to play high and you can’t do that every day. And also the jump version, because it’s totally not my style. I actually don’t feel like an adolescent. They have never called me that. I think I’m really not like that, at least when we’re talking about the cliché of adolescents – not listening, not respecting the rules, not feeling like doing something for someone else. I’m not into that sort of thing.