Taking the Actors Seriously: Michiel Vandevelde's 'Paradise Now (1968-2018)'

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The article departs from a phrase in Paul Ricoeur’s “Memory, History, Forgetting” (2003), and attempts to take Ricoeur at his word, by taking seriously the troupe of Flemish teenage actors performing Michiel Vandevelde’s “Paradise Now (1968–2018)”, a re-working of the iconic performance by The Living Theatre, which when it was presented fifty years ago at the Avignon Festival offered itself as a preparation for its audience to take action, individually and collectively, personally and politically, beyond the space of the theatrical representation. Vandevelde and the teenagers’ re-do functions rather differently. Drawing as much on film history and news and popular media as on theatre history, it offers a compilation of iconic images winding back to 1968, an occasion for these young 21st century performer-citizens – at once theatrical actors and “actors” of their own history – to voice their ambivalence about the potentials for common action in the present moment and the times ahead. The article considers the role of the “actors” (including the absent and the dead) in historical representation. It argues that the temporal form of the serial or chronicle (one image after another in chronological order) rather than the supposedly more complex – and human – dramatic plot (which structures relations between beginning, middle and end), attends to “taking the actors seriously” – in their actions and their passions – as a pressing task for our time.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)92-103
Number of pages12
JournalCulture Crossroads (Latvian Academy of Culture)
Publication statusPublished - 2019

Cite this