A group of Borgloon patrons wanted to invite an artist to work and reflect on grief and the deal with death, regardless of religion.
The idea was born from an earlier project with (almost) the same group of sponsors that gave birth to MEMENTO, a work of art by Wesley Meuris.
The support of the Fondation de France made it possible to carry out a second project. The choice of the medium "stage" was obvious: the theatre was born from lamentations, an important mourning ritual.
The group of patrons is not so much looking for "new rituals". Through their experience, they see that in our society, we delay the death of life and we barely know how we can cope with loss. The work must therefore speak to emotions and bring people closer to their feelings.
The work must not only speak to people who have already lost someone, but also to a much wider audience. Sooner or later, we will all be faced with the death of a loved one.
The patrons were looking for an artist who was very sensitive to the theme of mourning and farewells. They felt it was important to be able to dialogue with the artist and bring their experience. The artwork must focus on the personal process of mourning and provide inspiration and comfort.
The group chose the young Belgian visual theatre director Leen Braspenning, who works in the Netherlands. Leen gives frank, direct and pure representations about ordinary people that appeal directly to the public. Starting from a sociological perspective, she always seeks out a part of society that is still foreign to her: clubs, shop windows, factory halls or a social housing building. She has already won several awards.
Leen Braspenning's work is often based on research and interviews conducted by herself or an employee. This is how she discovers strong stories that she integrates into her performances. For this project, she wants to collect stories in Borgloon.
With the customers, it is decided that it will be a set design project: the play will be performed in a special place, not in a theatre.
For the show, Leen decided to use texts, photos and videos of conversations she had between 2010 and 2013 in Poland (where she also collected mourning material) and in the Borgloon region.
On Saturday, November 23, 2013, the time had come. The show was presented at three locations in the centre of Borgloon: Gasthuiskapel, CPAS-kerk and Sint-Baptistkerk in Kuttekoven.
At each location, films of interviews in Borgloon and Poland were screened, sharing testimonies on how to deal with death and say goodbye. These images were interspersed with theatrical performances performed live by 3 actors. In the Gasthuiskapel, visitors could literally sit at the coffee table, where a man and a woman, each in their own way, said goodbye to a loved one.
The performances ran from 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and could be seen continuously during the weekends of November 23 and 24 and November 30 and December 1.
Rouw (Grief) was made possible thanks to the support of the Fondation de France and the logistical cooperation of the Borgloon Cultural Service.