The Belgian director Luk Perceval has organized a brand new production. This new show, entitled “Front,” aims to honor the First World War through a multilingual performance which is complemented by other media. This performance is named for All Quiet on the Western Front, by Erich Maria Remarque, upon which the performance is partially based. Luk Perceval has worked on this production with Christina Bellingen from the Thalia Theatre in Hamburg, and showings have already begun.
The novel on which the production is based was a best-seller when it first released, and is still studied in schools to this day. The millions of copies that Remarque’s book sold were printed in nearly two dozen languages, and “Front” has followed suit by keeping its presentation entirely multilingual. Luk Perceval has included wartime accounts in at least four different languages, attempting to show the varying perspectives that people of different nations would have had during the war. He has also based some of his production on Under Fire, a book that was penned by Henri Barbusse while he was still fighting.
Despite the sense of realism that is attained by offering numerous perspectives, this is not anything resembling a reenactment or other particularly realistic portrayal of war itself. Instead, Luk Perceval has decided to keep his actors in basic formal wear. They appear as everyday people, simply sitting around and speaking of their experiences. The depictions of actual soldiers come from the accompanying projection screen, which shows images of soldiers as the actors speak.
The production was inspired largely by music, specifically symphonies in which there is a give and take of various instruments. There are no characters per se, but rather a vocal collage of experiences. Luk Perceval and his colleagues had trouble finding any written experiences from the eyes of Belgians. They found this to be an interesting side-note, given that Belgium was one of the primary locations of the war, the Herald Scotland reports.
Luk Perceval and his colleagues found “Front” to be well-received after the production’s premiere in Hamburg this year. They were grateful for this fact, as there is not much talk of the First World War in Germany. One of their main goals of the show was not to present any particular nation involved in the war as being either “good” or “bad.” Instead, Luk Perceval and associates showed the manner in which all were affected by a horrific and bloody conflict that took the lives of young men from across the globe.