STAN, an acronym for Stop Thinking About Names, is a theatre collective consisting of Jolente De Keersmaeker, Damiaan De Schrijver and Frank Vercruyssen. They met at Antwerp Conservatorium in the late 1980s where tutor Matthias de Koning from Maatschappij Discordia introduced them to a different, less dogmatic approach to theatre.
The company operates on the democratic principle that everyone participates in decisions about everything, from text selection, set and lighting to costumes and posters. STAN puts the performer centre stage and firmly believes in the principle of the sovereign actor, i.e. that the actor is both player and maker.
Nothing is rehearsed in the conventional sense of the word but, rather, most of the rehearsal process takes place around the table. Once the play has been chosen, the text is reworked and retranslated to arrive at a new script. Only in the last few days before the première do the actors take to the stage and only when the spectators are seated in the auditorium does the production really come into being.
STAN nurtures a firm belief in the ‘living’ power of theatre: the performance is not a reproduction of something that is learned, but something that is created anew every night together with the audience. So a STAN performance is not a finished product, but rather an invitation to a dialogue.
STAN is synonymous with text-based theatre and has recourse to an extensive and diverse repertoire. High on the repertoire list is the work of classic playwrights such as Chekhov, Gorky, Schnitzler, Ibsen, Bernhard and Pinter. Texts from the history of theatre are reread and brought into the here and now. Besides the classics, STAN is also drawn to the work of contemporary authors including, most recently, Yasmina Reza and Jon Fosse. At the same time, authors such as Tiago Rodrigues, Willem De Wolf and Annelies Verbeke are commissioned to write work for the company. But the choice may also fall on collages of texts inspired by stage plays or short stories, sketches, film scripts, philosophical tracts or novels. STAN’s stance is that theatre is not an elitist art, but rather a critical reflection on how all of us live, on our beliefs, our concerns and our indignation. The world repertoire has no equal when it comes to providing insight into the human condition for it hands us the keys to unlock the complexity of our world.
Though all of STAN’s actors are part of the collective, each also does their own thing. While exploiting their natural affinity, they also give themselves the necessary and essential space to meet and interact with other theatre companies and performers. STAN has often worked with Maatschappij Discordia (NL), Dood Paard (NL), Compagnie De KOE, Olympique Dramatique and Rosas. For The Cherry Orchard the company brought in nine guest actors. As well as occupying a very specific place on the Dutch theatre scene, STAN is in great demand abroad. Over the past two decades, the company has built up a superb repertoire of foreign language productions and toured extensively in Europe and on other continents performing foreign versions of its Dutch creations, as well as French or English plays it created abroad. France is a second home to STAN, having tight bonds with theatres such as Théâtre Garonne and Théâtre de la Bastille. Since 2001 STAN has performed nearly every year at the Paris Autumn Festival.