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SUNKEN RED (BEZONKEN ROOD) - Jeroen Brouwers - Guy Cassiers - ro theater - Toneelhuis 2004
After a première in Rotterdam, Sunken Red toured throughout Europe for 10 years. It was selected for the Festival d"Avignon 2006.
Peter Missotten designed the set, video and light for this memorable production.


Sunken Red from Toneelhuis on Vimeo.




Rouge Décanté (Sunken Red) is a deeply moving monologue adapted from the autobiography of the same name written by Jeroen Brouwers, telling the story of the two years he spent with his mother and his grandmother in Indonesia in a Japanese prison camp at Tjideng (now Jakarta) where Dutch citizens were interned between 1943 and 1945. This tale is told by a man who was once the five-year-old boy who, at the age of forty, learns that his estranged mother has passed away. Her death plunges him deep into his memories and gives rise to a constant movement of thoughts between the past in the camp and the present. He spares no details, even the most terrifying ones about the barbaric things done by the Japanese, the so-called ‘lackeys of death', even about what was irretrievably destroyed afterwards in the relationship between mother and son, in the relationship between this man and women, and about the permanent daily fear which paralyses the author.

Actor Dirk Roofthooft drags us into the maze of the hero's thoughts and feelings, so that we can hear all the words of this soul-bearing, of this voyage into the depths of a suffering man. The story is all the more touching given the author's gift of observation and conciseness, to the point that we are enchanted and compelled to keep up with the writer's own quest. With great modesty, the actor shows us the quintessence of pain around which this man has built himself, this man who is unable to distance himself from the child in the camp, and who continues to haunt him.

On stage the tension is extreme and reinforced by an exemplary use of video images and subtle work on sound. This is not historical theatre requiring exactness or objectivity, it is theatre about living and obsessive memory with the evident partiality of a victim and eye-witness. It is seen from the height of a child of five years who was also able to laugh and to play in the middle of hell.
Jean-François Perrier

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Text adaptation of the book by Jeroen Brouwers : Guy Cassiers, Dirk Roofthooft, Corien Baart
Direction : Guy Cassiers
With : Dirk Roofthooft
Dramaturgy : Erwin Jans

Set, video and light design : Peter Missotten (de Filmfabriek)
Soundscape : Diederik de Cock
Video technique: Arjen Klerkx
Costumes : Katelijne Damen

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Cassiers and designer Peter Missotten create the impression of a man struggling with various levels of memory and consciousness, combining shifting video projections of Roofthooft and his shadow with the live actor. He is shown in extreme close-up with every nuance of his eloquent face on display. The screen is often covered with slats, giving the effect that one is voyeuristically looking through blinds as the narrator writes his memoirs. The live Roofthooft is equally subtle and forceful. It is easy to forget that he is not telling his own life story.

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