Created in 2017
Christophe Coppens & i.s.m. architecten
From The Cunning Little Vixen to Foxie!
Christophe Coppens (director) and Reinder Pols (dramaturge – literary advisor)
Although Janáček’s Cunning Little Vixen has, ever since it was first performed, been steeped in a fairy-tale atmosphere and has always been seen as an ode to nature, it is reasonable to ask today whether that is the significance that is still relevant to us now and whether it still works dramatically. Can one still portray these characters in a truly credible way as ‘animals’? If you opt for the animal, you find yourself in the world of allegory or fairy tale; if you opt for humanity, a gritty world opens up whose consequences may at times lead us far afield.
By opting for the human world, we undoubtedly lose something in terms of childish simplicity and poetry, but we gain in depth and in insight into the condition humaine. By taking the work away from the unsophisticated natural world, much of its ecological context and significance is undoubtedly lost, but the emphasis on the human aspects makes it possible to lay bare certain fundamental mechanisms of our society, although without explaining them or applying value judgements to them. This choice was certainly not prompted by iconoclastic considerations: we sought, indeed, first and foremost, to fully respect the score, to keep the storyline, and to find a context that is relevant to our time, without repudiating Janáček’s message. A certain number of transpositions were, it is true, necessary in this new context: the wood, in our production, became a multi-purpose hall, the forester became a security guard, and, above all, the division into animals and people was given a highly distinctive interpretation.
In our production, Janáček’s ‘animal world’ represents the adolescents of today who, with their own highly distinctive perspective on reality and their own ideals, have to tentatively, experimentally, feel their own way in the world before they can make it their own. Janáček’s ‘human world’, in this production, symbolises the somewhat hidebound world of adults. The young people observe, help out, intervene, search, and fight for their ideals and draw their own conclusions. Their youthfulness, enthusiasm, and passion contrast with the inflexible attitudes of the middle-aged people who control the organisation of the world. This permanent tension is also part of the cycle of life, which is not just the cycle of life and death, but is also that of letting go and making way for the new.
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