Shakespeare has been a controversial artist for over 400 years. Sometimes he is the greatest ever, other times he is dismissed as an anti-Semitic mysoginist who especially got a kick out of conceiving violent scenes. That's what Billy's Violence covered extensively. In the eighteenth century, people detested the violence and dark twists in his tragedies. Consequently, these were shamelessly rewritten. Romeo and Juliet lived happily ever after!
This inspired Needcompany to ask Victor Afung Lauwers to read the comedies and see what they can still mean in our time - a time of great controversies, vulgar polemics, cancel culture, structural racism, climate change, war. What is there left to laugh at? Is humour the coward's weapon or a form of activism?
"Billy's Joy: a liquid comedy, a 'HYSTORY', a battle of attrition. Something is rotten in Fairyland!"Victor Lauwers
The essential difference between Shakespeare's tragedies and comedies is that the comedies are not funny. The pages of the comedies are a collection of prisms of eroticism, ranging from pastiche to obscurity. Performances of canonical texts like Shakespeare's have long ceased to be necessary. It is therefore not Victors intention to present a repertory piece. Rather, he is concerned with history - that is; with our mistakes. Those who do not want to know the past do not want to know themselves.