For Billy’s Violence, Victor Lauwers researched the ten tragedies of Shakespeare and rewrote them into violently loving, intimate dialogues in which the woman is the central focus, stripped of any historical reference or anecdotal content.
Shakespeare is the most read and performed writer the world has ever known. And yet many of the bard’s plays are virtually unperformable due to their violence, gruesomeness, racism and misogyny. What does violence in art mean in today’s world? Why do we enjoy watching it so much? Is violence viewed differently today than it was in the 16th-17th century?
Jan Lauwers: ‘Shakespeare wanted an audience in his theatre, but in the streets of London there were dog fights and torture. Women were being burnt in the squares, public executions took place. These were large-scale festivities that brought many people together on the streets and Shakespeare had to use sex and violence, among other things, to lure the audience to his theatre. That is very interesting. It is not dissimilar to Quentin Tarantino. Is it gratuitous, entertaining, or is it necessary or impossible? Quentin Tarantino is a choirboy by comparison to the sheer brutality evoked by Shakespeare