Kristof Vrancken / A Two Dogs Company


  • Texts for Nothing : the final monologue.

    Where would I go, if I could go, who would I be, if I could be?

    What is a human being in a world without grand narratives and certainties? Nobel Prize winner Samuel Beckett described this quest like no other in Texts for Nothing. A lonely, isolated character digs within himself in an attempt to find an answer to the ultimate questions: 'What am I doing here, who am I? Beckett bites ruthlessly into this conundrum and does not shy away from any taboo.

    Kris Verdonck directs Johan Leysen in a unique performance of this text. Texts for Nothing is the ultimate monologue for Leysen. His many years of experience make him the perfect actor to perform this text right now. This three-hour tour de force will be a special experience, immersing the audience in Beckett's world of thoughts.

    Written as prose, Texts for Nothing is rarely performed. Getting permission to do so is not an easy matter. So it is exceptional to see them on stage. Forty years after Joseph Chaikin's iconic version from the 1980s, Kris Verdonck and Johan Leysen are taking the plunge. For Leysen, after more than fifty years, this monologue is the crowning glory of his rich acting career. If anyone can revive such a challenging Beckett as Texts for Nothing on stage, it is Johan Leysen. The beautiful concoctions and dogged search for the right words to capture his existence are right up his street. For Kris Verdonck all elements are present to design a spectacular setting: duplicates, ghosts, deserted landscapes, machines, objects... the desolate world of Beckett fits seamlessly with Verdonck's mechanical world.

    Doubt and isolation

    The Texts for Nothing are a pivotal point in Beckett's work. Written in the early 1950s, they mark the transition from longer stories to short texts in his oeuvre. After the Second World War, there was little left of great, fixed values, which were replaced by doubt and uncertainty. Today, with the bankruptcy of truth and the feverish search for identities, that uncertainty has only increased. What does it still mean to be 'human' in a globalised, technological world? The character in Texts for Nothing can accordingly be seen as desperate Western man, stuck and searching in vain for answers.

    At the same time, this is also the ultimate lockdown text: being alone with your thoughts that keep coming and going in all directions, locked up and without any idea of what exactly is happening. To understand the loneliness and struggle of months of quarantine, you have to read Beckett. The Texts for Nothing balance on the edge of disappearance, between light and dark, between speech and silence, between movement and standstill, between life and death, between searching for and letting go of a story. Despite, or just because of all that grinding, these texts are full of wonderful sentences, beautiful poetry, funny self-deprecation and touching memories. Above all, they testify to a will to go on, even when it seems impossible: that drive and mix of emotions make for an intense evening.

    Voices and images

    To give shape to the loneliness and the various inner voices that express all these doubts, Kris Verdonck creates a special scenography. With voice over, video projections, holograms and machines, he creates an environment in which Leysen can disappear and reappear, where he can duplicate and engage in a dialogue with himself, or, like the audience, listen to that deep, penetrating voice.

    In ACT (2020) Kris Verdonck and Johan Leysen have already worked with fragments from Texts for Nothing. This performance was appreciated by both the public and the press and was selected for the Theatre Festival in Flanders and the Netherlands.

    It was written in the stars that the combination of Samuel Beckett, Kris Verdonck and Johan Leysen would produce something beautiful. For an hour, you hang on the lips of a man who becomes hopelessly entangled in his attempt to define himself and the world around him.
    From the jury report of the Flemish Theatre Festival 2020


Director/Concept: Kris Verdonck
Dramaturgy:  Kristof van Baarle
Performer: Johan Leysen
Costume design: Eefje Wijnings
Production: A Two Dogs Company
Coproduction: NTGent
Technical production: Oliver Houttekiet
Technique: Geert De Rodder, Raf Willems
With the support of The Flemish Authorities, the Flemish Community Commission