Valentijn Dhaenens – BigMouth

Photo Credit: Maya Wilsens
Photo Credit: Maya Wilsens

Getting to know about an actor is an interesting experience, as most of the time we only see them in their on-screen persona. There is so much to learn about them and we rarely get a glimpse into who they are and what they like (or not).

Here we are in conversation with Valentijn Dhaenens, solo performer of BigMouth, being featured at the upcoming Going Solo International Theatre Festival 2015. Have a deeper look at this fascinating performer:

1. What is your backstage routine before a performance?
Iron my shirt. Whispering some hard bits of the show with my head under a towel. Hum the songs. Ad fundum a cognac.

2. What is the most rewarding experience for you during a solo performance, as opposed to performing in a multi-cast play?
Having a dialogue with the audience instead of your fellow actors. Having total control of the entire pace and timing of the show.

3. What genre of plays/theatre would find you in the audience?
Hard to say, Some af the greatest shows I’ve ever seen were contemporary dance performances (Café müller – Pina Bausch, Rosas danst Rosas – A.T. De Keersmaeker, Endless House – William Forsythe) I guess I’m not so much interested in good storytelling as I am in an unique experience, a surprising insight or a sudden emotional impact. Not so much interested in craftsmanship as in the encounter with an intriguing personality.

4. Have you had any memorable fan/audience encounters?
Nothing spectacular I can remember right now. What I’m most proud of in my experience with audiences is the huge amount of really young people / students that after they’ve seen BigMouth are surprised that theatre can be like this as well and it doesn’t have to be boring, intellectual, or old fashioned. That I can be some kind of inspiration to them or can regain their lost interest in theatre.

5. Is there any Indian food you are looking forward to trying?
Chana masala with mint chutney. Dal. Haleem.

6. How does the story of the play affect or influence you?
The show isn’t a story in the traditional way of storytelling of course. I always hope and feel that because I play all these different speeches from different speakers out of world history that through my fatigue and incarnating all these characters you also get to see mankind through me wanting so badly to be God.

7. What are 5 things you’re looking forward to about your performance in India?
Encounter with audiences that are not strictly Western people and that have a different background and culture than me.
The food experience.
Getting to know people through the work that I would never meet as a tourist.
Have a feel of these massive big cities bustling with energy and life.
Having full nights of sleep without being woken up by my 2 year old daughter :)

8. Do you have any advice for stage actors struggling getting their message and talent noticed?
Be always true to yourself I guess. Try not to listen too much to other people giving you advice. Trust your instinct in making decisions rather than by what’s easy to explain.

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