In 1999, Viviane De Muynck and Jan Lauwers set to work with the last chapter of James Joyce’s Ulysses for the first time. Joyce’s grandson, Stephen J. Joyce, explicitly forbade them the use of the material with a number of offensive letters. Despite this ban, a few clandestine readings took place in Germany, which were positively received by the press. 21 years later – now the copyright on Joyce’s work has expired – De Muynck, the 74-year-old grande dame of the European theatre, puts herself back in the shoes of Molly Bloom, the unfaithful wife of Leopold Bloom, and approaches the text with new questions.

While writing this radical monologue one hundred years ago Joyce must have thought that “behind every famous man there’s a woman watching in astonishment.” Today, the aftermath of #metoo movement shows the burning necessity to create a space to talk openly about emancipation, equality and sexual freedom of women. That perspective sets a landscape for a new embodiment of Molly Bloom’s statement. To quote Viviane de Muynck, “It is a universal text about the impossibility of getting to know each other totally and accept the difference.” De Muynck herself says this is her best part ever.

Creation and adaptation Viviane De Muynck & Jan Lauwers text based on “Penelope” from Ulysses by James Joyce. Dramaturgy Elke Janssens. Dramaturgical assistance and coordination Melissa Thomas. Costumes Lot Lemm. Lighting design Ken Hioco, Jan Lauwers. Technical director Ken Hioco. Production management Marjolein Demey. Technicians Tijs Michiels, Saul Mombaerts. With thanks to Misha Downey.

Production Needcompany. Coproduction La Filature (Mulhouse). Copresentation Festival Temporada Alta (Girona), Festival de Otoño (Madrid), La Rose des Vents (Villeneuve d’Ascq), La Passerelle (Saint-Brieux), Espaces Pluriels (Pau). With the support of the Flemish authorities.


This article was originally published by on May 6, 2022, and has been reposted with permission. To read the original article, click here.

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