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Ontroerend Goed's

A History
of Everything

May 26

June 3, 2012

Upstairs at Chicago Shakespeare

A World's Stage Production 
created by Ontroerend Goed
and Sydney Theatre Company
text by Alexander Devriendt and Joeri Smet
directed by Alexander Devriendt

A Note from the Director

Before I start working on a performance I always want to know what will happen in the very last scene. It helps me at every moment during the creative process to know which direction I have to go.

For this show, I knew I wanted to tell a history of everything. I also knew I wanted to tell that story backwards, so humanity wouldn’t seem the purpose of everything that happened before it. Reading evolutionary science and theory about the origins of life, I wanted to deal with the tiny part we take up in the overall history of the universe. So, multi-universe theories put aside, we would end with the big bang, that was clear.

Now I only had to decide on the phrase to accompany that. The first one I had in mind was, “And if we fuck up, we weren’t that important.” Because that’s what I believe, that if we don’t manage to take care of the time we’ve been given, in the scale of all that happened before us and will happen after us, we will end up being just that, unimportant. Somebody assured me that was utterly depressing, and although I was a bit stubborn, I gave in. I didn’t want to leave the audience with a warning sign.

The next candidate came from Richard Dawkins’ book, Unweaving the Rainbow: “We are granted the opportunity to understand why our eyes are open, and why they see what they do, in the short time before they close forever.” It embodied an important aspect of the show: how science and history can provide us with answers about our life, as opposed to religious or creationist views.

But still, during the creation process I realized that a show about history is always a story, selected and put together by humans. No matter how scientific or exact the data, the beauty lies in how you deal with it as an individual. So we found our ending to reflect that. It’s not a warning sign, nor depressing.

Alexander Devriendt

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