Written by Marianne Van Kerkhoven (1946 - 2013)
Marijs Boulogne is one of the few female playwrights and directors from Flanders. The body of work that she has produced since her graduation at the RITS in 2002 constitutes an original world where vitality, humour, imagination and physicality set the tone. The way she brings female sexuality onto the scene is truly unique. In her performances, the audiences feel that they approach the secrets of life and death very closely. The body of the woman – the insides of that body in particular - is the source of vitality in Marijs' vision. The various juices and substances that the body produces - blood, saliva, tears, ejaculate, shit ... are important attributes in the stories told by Marijs Boulogne.
The topics that covered in her performances reach much further from the woman as a powerful birth giving machine. The liberation of the female body is accompanied by liberation from many other taboos and institutions. No obstacle - from religion to language – can withstand the violent swirling of the woman’s power propelling her pieces.
Marijs Boulogne: 'The language is supreme, stronger than death. The way you speak about what happened can change everything."
The language of Marijs Boulogne could be described as rebellious: it is the language of naughty girls, the language of children who find pleasure in the use of dirty words. Boulogne’s vocabulary is teeming with neologisms. Speaking, naming things is an act of creativity, as if the language is being invented. Her images are of the first degree, essential and original and they have a great poetic force. Her directness is reminiscent in its formulations to the texts of Jan Decorte. The humour and the perversity, like using the scatological to express pleasure, evoke the association with Mieke Maaike’s Obscene Youth by Louis Paul Boon.
directing / imagining / playing
From the outset of her graduation project Endless Medication – Marijs Boulogne has been staging her own texts, she often performs on stage as well.
Both, the intuitive - almost primitively instant - acting style and the imaginative use of very ordinary objects, costumes and props, represent an extension of her words and make the world they speak of concrete and material. This is 'poor theatre' out of necessity and choice. The attributes are either made of found objects or they are made. Often she works with dolls, to make use of her ingenious crochet and embroidery skills. But objects can be characters as well, like in the work of Joseph Van den Berg, one of the sources of Marijs' inspiration. Marijs Boulogne has the gift to bring dead matter into life. Her theatre leans on the visual arts: e. g., the baby doll from the show Beware all rot (Excavations) exhibited as an installation within the Canvas Collection 2008 in Bozar (Brussels).
The songs in performances, often sung and played on accordion by Marijs herself, are a key component in many of her projects. As a theatrical form they represent interruptions or summaries of the narrative line in the performances. Marijs is a storyteller and an epic dimension determines the acting style: actresses (and actors) address the audience directly and thus involve them immediately.
The performances of Marijs Boulogne have a high degree of accessibility, their immediacy is comparable to that of street-fair theatre. The characters with their rapid and simple metamorphoses and the simple story lines allow lively communication with the audience to take place. The magical and often gruesome fantasy component of Marijs’ work enhances its appeal. In terms of acting, the audience is swept along by the fun of the performers.
The blasphemous imagination, the perverse obscenity of Marijs Boulogne, is very Flemish in a peculiar way. She refers to the historical sensitivity, to the grotesque, macabre and the vital reminiscent of the works of James Ensor, Michel de Ghelderode or – to reach deeper into history - Hieronymus Bosch. Boulogne approaches their affinities with a female version.