In BigMouth, which opened last night at our York Theatre and runs until Feb 21, creator and performer Valentijn Dhaenens traverses sermons, declarations of war, farewells, final arguments, victory speeches and eulogies from across time. After the show, the lobby was buzzing as audiences members speculated about the creation of the show and the connection between speeches.
Here in his own word, Dhaenens describes his process for creating the show:
“Over the course of a year I promised myself to read at least one speech a day. Doing so, I read more than a thousand speeches that year. I tried not to force speeches to relate to one another but simply put them on stacks hoping that one day they would start communicating with each other. For instance, there were 5 months between the reading of Goebbel’s ‘Totaler Krieg’ speech and the moment I ran into the Patton-speech. I learned that that they were given at about the same time, saying exactly the same thing to exactly the same kind of people in a very different manner. Those speeches were begging to be interweaved with one another and become a massive go-to-war-appeal.
One of the key moments in the development of the show came when I had just memorized the funeral oration of Pericles (around 400BC) and at night watched the television news and saw French President Sarkozy (who had just lost 10 soldiers in Afghanistan) repeating about the same words. A few months later I added King Boudewijn’s abduction speech right after Pericles. The last one talking to the parents of literally thousand killed lying there at his feet. The first one refusing to sign an abortion-law, fighting for the even unborn single life.”
So what speeches made the cut? Here’s a sneak peek of some of the memorable speeches featured in the show. For the rest, get your tickets to BigMouth before Feb 21!