Dirk Opstaele, ° Ostend (B), 1958
Ensemble Leporello, ° Brussels (B) 1985
Author, stage director, visual artist Dirk Opstaele is generally known as the founder and helmsman of Brussels based Ensemble Leporello (1985). Not only is he director, choreographer and actor in his own company and other groups in Europe, but he also writes, adapts and translates plays. He has breathed new life into several classical dramas, such as Le Cid by Corneille, Britannicus by Racine, Coriolanus by Shakespeare, The Metamorphoses by Ovid and Walden by Thoreau.
Dirk Opstaele studied at Jacques Lecoq's International Theatre School in Paris at the beginning of the 1980s. From Lecoq he learned to view language as music, and body language as a supplement to and compensation for verbal communication. In his early carreer, Opstaele collaborated with the stage directors Moshe Leiser and Patrice Caurier, during wich he discovered the various possibilities offered by musical theatre.
To Dirk Opstaele, theatre is an important and meaningful art form in which form and content, image and movement, text and score belong to one and the same form of expression. He wrote several libretti for small scale opera’s (“The Final Party”, “Galantes Scènes”, “L’Algerino in Italia”) and is the author of a large variaty of plays and comedies (“Cyberfall”, “On Holiday”, “The Revenge of Macbeth”…). As curator, choreographer, coach, teacher and, most of the time, stage director, Opstaele worked for theatrer companies, dance companies, circuses and art houses. He staged plays by Sophocles, Ovid, Molière, Marivaux, Shakespeare, Beckett an a number of contemporary authors (N. Sarraute, R. Schimmelpfennig, P. Roth…).
Ensemble Leporello and artistic director Dirk Opstaele develop their own theatre language and a unique performance style. Music, song, text and movement are combined in an extraordinary alchemy. Leporello constantly searches for a form of theatre in which a minimum of props and set elements are required to create a whole new world in the minds of the audience. In this pure form, theatre is an integrated and playful organism for theatre makers, singers and musicians. By opting for Arte Povera theatre, the company forces itself to manage words, text and context in a creative and resourceful manner. Thus it aims to perform 'the primal acts of living players for living spectators.'
Most of Leporello's productions remain on the repertoire for years and are performed on a regular basis. 'The company is all the better for it,' according to Dirk Opstaele. All creations, however different, display the same world and form a whole in this sense.
By combining different forms of theatre and by performing them in several languages simultaneously, Leporello acquires an international character. The company tours intensively in Europe. Many productions are performed in a mixture of Dutch and French; other performances have a Dutch, French or English version.
Dirk Opstaele is curator, coacher, teacher and, most of the time, stage director for authors like Sophocles, Ovidius, Molière, Marivaux, Shakespeare, Beckett an a variety of contemporary authors.
A few striking productions:
Tartuffe, 1992: A rhythmical ‘distillation’ of Molières masterpiece, where choral staging mixes with virtuoso lazzi in commedia-style.
The revenge of Macbeth (2006), a collective ensemble piece, an adaptation, a reworking and musical expression of a universal and age-old theme: that of a power struggle between family members.
In The Final Party (2013) actors and singers present key scenes from the collected works of Chekhov in the form of tableaus to music by Kurt Bikkembergs.
Arabic Night (2009) is the result of intensive collaboration between Dirk Opstaele and the composer Frank Nuyts on a play by the German playwright Roland Schimmelpfennig. This production will be revived at ‘special and unexpected locations.’