The first actual plans for collaboration between Eric De Volder and Dick van der Harst took shape in late 1998. They had already long been interested in and admiring of each other’s work, and in the summer of 1996 a subject presented itself. Eric De Volder tells us that ‘The work originated in the words of Yves Desmet, editor of De Morgen newspaper, which he wrote in his daily ‘Standpoint’ after the Dutroux affair blew up in 1996.’
It was as if this affair had stirred up all the murky pools in Belgium at the same time. The news was full of endless excavations, white marches, horrible discoveries, the defects of the entire justice system, and, most of all, of huge incomprehension.
Yves Desmet’s writing encouraged De Volder to express in his own way his feelings and reactions to the whole affair. How, as a dramatic artist, could he tell this story? He had soon completed an initial script, a basis. Aye and grim words they were.
How could and can one communicate on this topic? Just talking about it did not offer enough. Song would and did have to express the inexpressible. Dick van der Harst provided the link. Breton music, of which he is a great admirer, has a tradition of women’s songs. It is a form with great narrative power. Van der Harst says, ‘They sing in small groups of three, four or five; one leads and the others reply at the end of the verse. They pick up the last line of a verse, repeat it and add something new. This type of singing corresponds very much with Eric’s way of writing.’ The simplicity of the songs made it possible to tell of these shocking events without its becoming suffocating. The horror for which no words remained had thereby found a voice.
Premiere 20 November 1999 Minardschouwburg Gent