Belgian actor Douglas Grauwels plays a character inspired by Jean-Claude Van Damme at the Sorano theatre. Who better than the irresistible JC to tackle such a serious and complex topic as the monetary system? To see Wednesday 18 and Thursday 19 May.
Juliette Navis’ “JC” show is a funny mixture with a Belgian accent, between Jean-Claude Van Damme, an economist from Brussels, and the psychoanalyst Jung. Alone on stage, the Brussels actor Douglas Grauwels (cop in the 3rd season of the series “Public Enemy” soon on Canal) mixes the words of Van Damme, philosophy, and martial arts. This funny and muscular solo artist explores our relationship with money. After the performance, screening of the feature film “JCVD ” (2008) with Jean-Claude Van Damme in his own role and François Damiens.
How did you find yourself in the shoes of Jean-Claude Van Damme?
First of all, a clarification. It’s not a show about Jean-Claude Van Damme, nor about Van Damme’s thought. The author, Juliette Navis, who staged me, wanted to do a show on ecology. She was inspired by this character who articulates thought in a very eccentric, very playful way, by associations of ideas, as we can see in her interviews. Everyone finds it very funny, we laugh and finally, at the turn of a sentence, we say to ourselves that this guy can have quite interesting intellectual flashes. For example, he says: “I don’t believe in the Catholic religion anymore, because a snake is nice and an apple is good for cholesterol”.
He has a quirky way of seeing the world…
Yes, like a child who approaches the world in a pragmatic and somewhat naive way. Nevertheless, what he says in this sentence is quite strong, because he questions the founding myth and comments on a way to demonize certain animals.
So the form is funny, but the substance is serious?
I hope you’ll find it funny, but there’s not a word that isn’t full of meaning. There is a real paradox between this funny thought which seems to go all over the place, and the bottom line which is extremely learned. We have compared Van Damme’s forms of thought with a thesis by the economist Bernard Lietaer, “At the heart of money, collective unconscious, archetypes and taboos”. He says that we must change the value system, have solidarity currencies recognised, bring sharing and the protection of Nature up to date.
What is the link between the actor and this eminent economist?
In reality Van Damme expresses a real ecological thought, an ambition for wildlife, a desire to save the world. Bernard Lietaer explains a system to achieve this.
How did you work on the character of JC?
The show was built little by little on the set, based on themes given by Juliette Navis. There isn’t really any text, I improvise a lot. I can always choose different images to explain my thinking. I discovered that I had this ability to speak without stopping. I put myself in a state close to a dream, or a psychoanalysis session, where we associate thoughts with each other.
This thought is also expressed by the body…
Yes. It’s a very physical show, because Jean-Claude Van Damme, who is a karateka, also expresses himself through the body. I was accompanied by an award-winning choreographer, who introduced me to martial arts. One of the ambitions of the staging is to say: this slightly crazy character, a kind of naive person who takes everything literally, makes us see images of the whole universe, the big bang, the mother goddess, a amount of incredible images. But on stage there is just one actor alone. When I play, I really see the images around me. For example, JC goes in search of Jesus, a patriarchal figure he wants to overthrow. I’m doing a ghost fight (Editor’s note) with Jesus.
Did Van Damme come to see you?
We tried to reach him, but we were never able to reach him. I had the impression that being from Brussels like him, it would be easier. But no. It’s a real star.