TROUBLE SCORE | NTGent

TROUBLE SCORE

A witty, moving and confrontational theatrical concert about the hardships of living with trauma and recovering from it.

Website images professionele paginas trouble scrore

MAKERS

Luanda Casella & Pablo Casella / NTGent

Trouble Score  is an NTGent production in co-production with DE SINGEL International Arts Centre. The piece will premiere in September, 2025 and is distributed by NTGent.

PREMIERE

Scheduled for autumn 2025

ABOUT

Trouble Score   is a witty, moving and confrontational theatrical concert about the hardships of living with trauma and recovering from it.

Lifelong collaborators and siblings Luanda Casella and Pablo Casella delve into an old family scandal, a web of fragmented criminal stories they've been piecing together for over two decades. Only to unravel an impossible plot. A plot where childhood innocence clashes with the distorted reality of trauma.

Traumas leave scars, long lasting imprinted marks that are born out of the need for safety and belonging. In Trouble Score, brother and sister explore the unreliable memories of victims, witnesses and perpetrators, and the deceptive narratives and daily rituals one creates in order to survive.

On stage, the duo embarks on an aesthetic journey that resembles a ritual, with the narrative symbolism typical of the format; songs, evocation, prayer, spell…, within the frame of a pop concert.

In this self-prescribed ceremony, they dismantle their own psychological space, pushing the limits of their personal stories into the universal themes of segregation, betrayal, exile, vindication, death and mourning. With a lot of humour and complicity, they look into the meaning of the ‘strangely familiar’ to capture the fantastic, mysterious, and oftentimes hallucinatory nature of family dynamics.

Trouble Score   turns to magic realism and speculative fiction for transforming negative events into pop songs, coping mechanisms into hyperbolic analogies, unhealthy patterns into healing mantras; to change scores of suffering into scores of healing.

The stage, solely constructed by laser light design within a minimalist set, creates illusions of vast distances or immense structures. A sense of infinite space, an otherworldly and distorted atmosphere, reflect the fragmented narrative of the show. The clean laser lines create the visual metaphor for the constraints faced by the characters of the multi-layer plot. In this ritualistic environment, there’s a third character composed of text projections animated in a whimsical typographic choreography

Trouble Score AI renders 17 promobeeld

Trouble Score has many of the elements that compose Luanda Casella’s artistic universe: a take on the ‘unreliable narrator’, the exploration of one or more literary genres, a speculation around popular communication formats and the prominent use of text projections.

✔ The ‘unreliable narrator’, a literary figure ever present in her work, is here represented by ‘the traumatised’ and their self-deceptive discourse, exploring a tightrope walk between self-protection and self-sabotage.
✔ Linked to this, Casella consciously explores the eeriness and humour of magical realism—a literary genre born out of the necessity to address phantasmagorical events involving historical traumas and wrenching personal upheavals— to create a healthy distance to trauma and give name to ‘the unnameable’.
✔ The use of text projections functions as a ‘rhetoric apparatus’ within the piece, engaging the audience directly in a process of reading, philosophical thinking, constructing meaning and collective recovery. Like in all of her works, Casella’s strict avoidance of video imagery is founded on the belief in the power of language for the building of imagination.

In Trouble Score, Luanda and Pablo Casella go back to the roots of their collaboration, to the format which they started their artistic trajectory with: the storytelling concert. The show flows in their unique style of arranging multi-layers of text and sound samples, pre-recorded and live music in a complex composition. A healing celebration and a symbol of eternal connection.

IMG 4620 Luanda Casella druk c Michiel Devijver

NOTE FROM THE DIRECTOR

My work is about the power of stories to manipulate reality and the deconstruction of language. Drawing on literary strategies and techniques, I create theatre pieces that explore the influence of storytelling on our perception of reality and the role of literature for critical thinking. I’m interested in how our timeless desire for narratives is exploited and how popular communication channels use fiction to influence our consumption; of goods, of values, and of the self.

I composed my theatre pieces through principles of text assemblage, they are fundamentally triggered by the digital hypertext, by the reading and interpretative strategies of a contemporary audience, keen on fragmentation. I believe I'm creating a unique genre in Flemish contemporary text theatre, with pieces that are socially critical, aesthetically bold, and that possess the intertextuality of postmodern literary works. Throughout my trajectory, I've combined literary elements with popular culture formats, which I believe allow us to look at a certain reality in a way that we recognise it. 

Pablo

Subverting popular formats becomes then a strategy of lowering the threshold. The exercise is to present the deceptive elements of that very same reality with more acute criticism. Due to my lifelong collaboration with composer Pablo Casella (photo), my theatrical compositions always reinforce the musical aspects of these formats.

My creative process involves choosing a clear format combination, which creates specific writing constraints. For example, Short of Lying   (2018) subverted the TEDTalk lecture-performance format with a fictional biographic narrative addressing the theme of media manipulation. Killjoy Quiz  (2020) blended multiple-choice tests with speculative fiction, employing a television quiz format, with a live band and dynamic scenography, to critique the violence of language. Ferox Tempus   (2022) delved into video game narratives (adventure, maze, horror) to create a dystopian plot about the ecological crisis, with a soundtrack built from manipulated 'found footage' (audio files).

My latest work, Elektra Unbound  (2024), dissects the exploitation of suffering on online platforms. It utilises a multi-format approach, with an audition functioning as the main frame structured around a talent show's logic. The narrative unfolds through TikTok's swiping mechanic, interspersed with fragmented narratives demanding fast audience interpretation and selection. Additionally, the core elements of tragedy guide stylistic choices. The re-imagined tragic chorus as text projection acts as both the classical narrator and the voice of the algorithm, accompanied by a synchronised musical and typographic composition.

Each of my pieces explores the figure of the 'unreliable narrator', a literary term used to describe the behaviour of characters who suffer from some sort of mental instability; whose knowledge, perception or ethics have been seriously compromised. In previous pieces; the insomniac, the disillusioned activist, the survivor, the mental patient, the authoritative theatre director, the drug addict, the filthy rich, the beauty-obsessed, the indifferent.

In Trouble Score  (2025), Pablo Casella and I continue investigating unreliable narration and the narrative impact of communication formats on the audience's experience. Here we explore the discourse of ‘the traumatised’ in a self-made pop concert ritual. This theatrical concert, based on a family scandal, explores a myriad of fragmented stories with multiple narrators and perspectives, leaving the question ‘what really happened?’ unanswered.

PRESS QUOTES

Elektra Unbound, the previous performance for which Luanda and Pablo Casella collaborated at NTGent was received very well by press and professionals. The play was selected in spring 2024 for the Belgian Theaterfestival as one of the best of the season:

✒ "CASELLA GROTESQUELY DOES AWAY WITH THE GENTEEL ARTISTS MODEL THAT WAS DOMINANT ON STAGE FOR SO LONG (...) IN HER ULTRATIGHT TEXT, CASSELA INTEGRATES SOCIAL CRITICISM ABOUT HOW, IN THESE NARCISSICTIC TIKTOK TIMES, WE ALL EXPLOIT OUR WANNABE TRAUMAS FOR ATTENTION" --- From the jury report of the Belgian Theaterfestival

✒ "IRREVERENT, AWFULLY INTELLIGENT, AND HORRIFICALLY FUNNY" --- Etcetera (BE)

✒ "RIGHT THROUGH THE FAKE DRAMA DRILLS THE ECHO OF 2,500 YEARS OF LIVED, AUTHENTIC SUFFERING" --- De Morgen **** (BE)

✒ "IN HER ULTRA TIGHT SCRIPT, CASELLA WEAVES A GREATER CRITICISM ON SOCIETY ABOUT HOW WE ALL EXPLOY OUR WANNABE-TRAUMAS FOR ATTENTION IN THIS NARCISSISTIC TIKTOK-TIMES AND HOW THAT CHOKES ALL POLITICAL THINKING" --- De Standaard (BE) ****

BIOGRAPHIES

LUANDA CASELLA is a writer, performing artist, theatre director, house artist at NTGent and artist in residence at DE SINGEL International Arts Centre. Above all, she is an ingenious storyteller who knows exactly how to make the point she is trying to make. Focusing on the uses of 'manipulative discourse' in communication processes and 'unreliable narrators' in classic and contemporary works of fiction, her work has been referred to as ‘awfully intelligent’, ‘surprisingly light-footed’ and ‘horrifically funny’.

Read the full bio here

Read more about the work of Luanda Casella

PABLO CASELLA is a composer, song-writer and multi-instrumentalist. His ear for harmonies is unique in contemporary music. With skills and virtuosity he knows how to paint landscapes through sound, emotions through melody, power through rhythm.

Read the full bio here

CONTACT

❔ Are you interested in programming this performance? Please contact Sophie Vanden Broeck, sales manager at NTGent:
✉: sophie.vanden.broeck@ntgent.be
☎: +32 485 80 38 43

TECHNICAL NEEDS

  • Black box theatre with a flat floor and a standard seating arrangement that can accommodate between 200 and 600 spectators.
  • The auditorium has a grid under the rafters, consisting of 5 trolleys that can be moved along the length of the auditorium. The clear height under these trolleys is 5.95 m.
  • Playing surface of 12 m. (depth from zero line to fund wall ) by 15,45 m. (width between walls).

The stage hosts a self-made ritual, solely constructed by laser light design within a minimalist set. It transforms to create spatial illusions and play with the audience’s perception of scale, evoking the presence of ‘the unknown’. On stage, the two performers build up a storytelling concert accompanied by animated text projections. They make use of musical instruments, midi-controllers, midi-triggers, pedal effects, synthesisers, loop and drum machines to compose a multi-layered plot.

*** the graphic images on this page are merely used as references and cannot be used by third parties ***

Beyond madness, tenderness awaits Only humans can fantasise There's all that future, still With closed eyes, you can see whomever you’d like Until it holds from the inside