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Bosse Provoost

Bosse Provoost (b. 1993) graduated with a Master’s in Drama from the School of Arts Ghent|KASK Ghent. Since 2018, he has made theatre productions together with visual artist and lighting designer Ezra Veldhuis (b. 1991). In their work, they radically opt for ‘a theatre of sensory under-stimulation’. Bosse Provoost creates compositions of shifting light and atmospheres, silences and semi-human seeming figures in his shows. He made his first productions together with Kobe Chielens, in which they often emulated the physical idiom of animated cartoon characters. His more recent work with Ezra Veldhuis explores the sphere between theatre, performance and installation art, turning a theatre space into an ‘environment’ in which all objects within that space have the possibility of expressing themselves. Matisklo (2018) was a challenging quest for the visualizable and expressible aspects of the pitch-black poems of the Jewish Romanian poet Paul Celan. SUN-SET (2020), focused on the evocative effect of light and darkness on the spectator. This was an intimate performance that sharpened your senses, operating as it did on the borderline between perception and imagination. On the programme for the spring of 2021 is Indoor Weather, a production that uses the entire technical apparatus of the theatre to stretch one’s imagination to the limits. Moby Dick and Jeff Vandermeer’s eco-science fiction are among the sources of inspiration for Indoor Weather. To put it another way: What if the theatre were the belly of a humungous whale? 

His productions are “compositions of shifting light, silences, rhythmic games and half-human figures”. In 2015, he made two productions with Kobe Chielens. Herberg, a grand and breathtaking anti-spectacle, was performed at sunset beneath a highway crossover, far away from the audience. In Moore Bacon!, a radical game of ‘sensory understimulation’ was performed with a minimum of light in a pitch-dark space, causing the spectator to perceive impossible images. The show won the Jong Theaterprijs (Young Theatre Prize) at Theater Aan Zee (BE) and Het Debuut (The Debut) at the ITs Festival in Amsterdam, and toured in Belgium and the Netherlands. “An incredibly strong show,” said the TAZ jury report.

In 2017, Bosse worked with the collective de polen to make The Act of Dying, in which three performers play an animated game of death and resurrection. A wooden frame moved in response to the strains of Gorecki’s Symphony No. 3. In Matisklo (2018), made with Ezra Veldhuis and others, Bosse Provoost refined his search for the limits of the expressible and visualizable. The show was based on the poems of Paul Celan, in which each word is like a stone that has been picked up and can be viewed from many different angles. In their ‘meaning-hunt’ (Celan’s term) in poems, the two actors were accompanied by figures clothed in radical, ‘person encompassing’ costumes designed by Max Pairon. Said Carl De Strycker, editor-in-chief of Poëziekrant: “Seldom have I experienced such a surprising evening of theatre, but neither have I ever before had the feeling that poetry was staged so accurately.”

The recent SUN-SET (2020), again made with Ezra Veldhuis, explores how to visualize a ‘cosmogonic moment’, the precarious instant in which ‘nothing’ turns into ‘something’. Balancing between light and darkness, abstraction and figuration, SUN-SET evokes bastard worlds, in a theatre space that itself seems to be alive. “What’s so brilliant about this production is that they start with familiar old visual formulas in which ‘light’ dramatically symbolizes ‘truth’ and ‘creation’ and end up somewhere else. They show us that we ourselves produce reality.” Pieter T’Jonck.

For autumn 2021, a new production is on the programme: Indoor Weather, a site-specific play in the theatre. Usually the apparatus of a large stage is at the service of a director and his or her performers. A good deal of what effectively occurs in this space is invisible and inaudible. Indoor Weather aims to examine these relations and turn them inside out. The current ecological crisis invites us to make a poetic reversal in the theatre, a space that traditionally places humans at the centre of things. The loudspeakers speak, the spotlights are in the spotlight and on the emergency exit signs the little man running away gets not a step further.

In the meantime, Bosse has trained under Jan Lauwers (Oorlog en Terpentijn), Ivo van Hove (Een klein leven) and Guy Cassiers (Bagaar).

Follow the projects, work process and dialogue of the four P.U.L.S. directors here.

Productions from/with ‘Bosse Provoost’

SUN-SET Theatre 11 January 2022

SUN-SET

Toneelhuis / Ezra Veldhuis / Bosse Provoost / Oshin Albrecht