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Billy’s Violence

Needcompany Victor A. Lauwers (Text) / Maarten Seghers (Music) Dir: Jan Lauwers

Teatre Nacional de Catalunya - Sala Gran 08/07 - 11/07

The works he wrote are a catalogue of human passions, which is perhaps why there are few authors as violent as Shakespeare. This is demonstrated by a Belgian writer, an especially innovative company and their local accomplices.

If you’ve ever seen Titus Andronicus, you won’t need to be told about the catalogue of horrors and gratuitous violence that the English bard’s plays descend into at times. Maybe it’s the most obvious example, but it's not the only one in his oeuvre. Many of the works he wrote acquire a degree of brutality that would make them impossible to assume for our sensitivities... were it not for the fact that TV news has long accustomed us to regarding fear, suffering and horror as practically normal. Racism, violence, misogyny... are not at all out of place in the pages written by Shakespeare but a good excuse for asking ourself why we like to see or read crime fiction, the role that violence plays in the art of our time and the differences there are in how it is seen and judged today, compared to past centuries. 

The Belgian director Jan Lauwers, one of the great names in European theatre of our time, has already staged many of Shakespeare's plays, from Julius Caesar (1990) to King Lear (2000), not to mention Needcompany's Macbeth (1996). That makes him a good guide on this journey through the darkest aspects of Shakespeare's works which the poet Victor Afung Lauers proposes in Billy's Violence. The author took his inspiration from ten of Shakespeare's tragedies to write intimate and violent dialogues, free of any historical or anecdotal reference. Is the violence Shakespeare shows us a demonstration of the need for law or does it contain its own truth? Jan Lauwers himself reminds us that in Shakespeare's London executions of criminals were public spectacles, women accused of witchcraft were burnt on streets and dogfights were an everyday event. Given that background, an author had no choice but to portray sex and violence in his works to fill the theatres they were being performed in. Is Shakespeare a kind of late-16th and early-17th-century Tarantino? We will find our answer from the members of Needcompany, the multidisciplinary, multicultural and innovative theatre company set up in 1986 by Jan Lauwers and Grace Ellen Barkey and joined in 2001 by Maarten Seghers - the composer of this production’s original score -, and also the local accomplices of Jan Lauwers and Needcompany; Nao Albet who’s always ready to explore the paths opened by the Belgian director; Gonzalo Cunill, an actor born in Argentina and with an extensive career on the Catalan stage and also in film and the actor and director Juan Navarro.


A Grec 2021 Festival de Barcelona, Needcompany, Teatre Nacional de Catalunya, Teatro Español, Naves del Español en Matadero, Teatro Central (Sevilla, Spain) and Les Salins - Scène Nationale de Martigues co-production.

Tax Shelter funding BNP Paribas Fortis Film Finance NV/SA

Produced with the support of the Tax Shelter of the Belgian Federal Government and the Flemish Government


A show for audiences aged 16 and over.

Absolute premiere during the Grec 2021 Festival of Barcelona.

Artistic card

Text: Victor Lauwers Music: Maarten Seghers Direction, scenography, costumes: Jan Lauwers Choreography: Grace Ellen Barkey With: Nao Albet, Grace Ellen Barkey, Gonzalo Cunill, Martha Gardner, Romy Louise Lauwers, Juan Navarro, Maarten Seghers, Meron Verbelen Dramaturgy: Elke Janssens Dramaturgical assistance: Erwin Jans Lighting design: Ken Hioco Technical and production: Marjolein Demey, Ken Hioco, Tijs Michiels Costumes and props assistant: Nina Lopez Le Galliard

Multimedia gallery


Discipline Theater

Dates and schedules Thursday 8/7 - 19:00 H Friday 9/7 - 19:00 H Saturday 10/7 - 19:00 H Sunday 11/7 - 18:00 H

Space Teatre Nacional de Catalunya

Duration 90 min

Language Show in English, Spanish and Dutch, with Catalan surtitles

Price 29 €

Other criteria Coproduction International


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