Love, revenge and revolution Duo twists and turns their love

2016-11-08 06:00
Greta Pietersen and Ludwig Binge star in Quartet.

Greta Pietersen and Ludwig Binge star in Quartet.

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The twisted relationship between two French aristocrats living in a time of debauchery serves as a basis for exploring the cruelty and passion of human existence in Heiner Müller’s Quartet.

Local actors Greta Pietersen from Gardens and Ludwig Binge from Oranjezicht will be bringing this story of excess to life under director Marthinus Basson and producer Chris Pienaar in the Artscape Arena from Wednesday 16 November.

Quartet is based on Pierre Choderlos de Laclos’s 1782 novel, Les Liaisons dangereuses (The Dangerous Liaisons), a series of fictional letters written by various members of the French aristocracy shortly before the French Revolution,” Ludwig explains.

“It deals with the nearly grotesque yet sublime love between two soulmates who incessantly entertain themselves by playing games of sexual revenge in order to save themselves from the boredom of the aristocracy,” Greta continues.

The plot centres around Marquise de Merteuil and Vicomte de Valmont whom Ludwig describes as “bitter rivals and ex-lovers”. Through their correspondence, the two play a game of manipulative scheming, indulging their sometimes sadistic fantasies.

Quartet is essentially a 12-page dialogue between Merteuil and Valmont. His text adds another dimension to De Laclos’s story by letting the two rivals enact each other’s parts as well as the parts of the virginal niece and virtuous wife, often switching their roles and their sexes,” Ludwig says.

Greta and Ludwig are both familiar with these characters, having first performed the show as students at Stellenbosch University under the direction of Marthinus who was their lecturer at the time. He believed the piece had great potential as a professional production.

“He felt that it would be very good exposure for two young actors and also believed it deserved to be seen by a larger audience,” Ludwig says.

“Since then we’ve been performing it professionally on and off every few years,” Greta adds. “Every time we pick it up again I am amazed at the incredibly layered text and I feel blessed to be part of it. I learn so much about myself as an actress every time I do it.”

Greta says the play challenges her both as human being and as an actress.

“Because the text is very wordy and we play different characters, one must be very careful not to embellish too much – otherwise you lose the thread of the story,” she says, adding that she tries to stick to the advice of Marthinus who taught her to “invest in the argument”.

The fact that the lead characters play different characters themselves is a fact Ludwig says is important to keep in mind.

“It is therefore not my interpretation of those characters but Valmont’s. He is sending them up. There is enjoyment in playing them. It is quite tongue-in-cheek.”

Greta believes that audiences will find the themes of Quartet are universal.

“It illuminates varied avenues of philosophy and existentialism but eventually deals with a very accurate look at love between two people in all its beauty and brutality.”

Ludwig adds that theatre fans will enjoy the playwright’s macabre sense of humour and smart use of language.

“The characters are constantly using each other’s phrases and belief systems against one another, constantly sending each other up. If you enjoy clever writing, you will enjoy Quartet.V Quartet will be at the Artscape Arena from Wednesday 16 to Saturday 26 November. Tickets cost between R80 and R100 and are available at Compu­ticket.

The twisted relationship between two French aristocrats living in a time of debauchery serves as a basis for exploring the cruelty and passion of human existence in Heiner Müller’s Quartet.

Local actors Greta Pietersen from Gardens and Ludwig Binge from Oranjezicht will be bringing this story of excess to life under director Marthinus Basson and producer Chris Pienaar in the Artscape Arena from Wednesday 16 November.

Quartet is based on Pierre Choderlos de Laclos’s 1782 novel, Les Liaisons dangereuses (The Dangerous Liaisons), a series of fictional letters written by various members of the French aristocracy shortly before the French Revolution,” Ludwig explains.

“It deals with the nearly grotesque yet sublime love between two soulmates who incessantly entertain themselves by playing games of sexual revenge in order to save themselves from the boredom of the aristocracy,” Greta continues.

The plot centres around Marquise de Merteuil and Vicomte de Valmont whom Ludwig describes as “bitter rivals and ex-lovers”. Through their correspondence, the two play a game of manipulative scheming, indulging their sometimes sadistic fantasies.

Quartet is essentially a 12-page dialogue between Merteuil and Valmont. His text adds another dimension to De Laclos’s story by letting the two rivals enact each other’s parts as well as the parts of the virginal niece and virtuous wife, often switching their roles and their sexes,” Ludwig says.

Greta and Ludwig are both familiar with these characters, having first performed the show as students at Stellenbosch University under the direction of Marthinus who was their lecturer at the time. He believed the piece had great potential as a professional production.

“He felt that it would be very good exposure for two young actors and also believed it deserved to be seen by a larger audience,” Ludwig says.

“Since then we’ve been performing it professionally on and off every few years,” Greta adds. “Every time we pick it up again I am amazed at the incredibly layered text and I feel blessed to be part of it. I learn so much about myself as an actress every time I do it.”

Greta says the play challenges her both as human being and as an actress.

“Because the text is very wordy and we play different characters, one must be very careful not to embellish too much – otherwise you lose the thread of the story,” she says, adding that she tries to stick to the advice of Marthinus who taught her to “invest in the argument”.

The fact that the lead characters play different characters themselves is a fact Ludwig says is important to keep in mind.

“It is therefore not my interpretation of those characters but Valmont’s. He is sending them up. There is enjoyment in playing them. It is quite tongue-in-cheek.”

Greta believes that audiences will find the themes of Quartet are universal.

“It illuminates varied avenues of philosophy and existentialism but eventually deals with a very accurate look at love between two people in all its beauty and brutality.”

Ludwig adds that theatre fans will enjoy the playwright’s macabre sense of humour and smart use of language.

“The characters are constantly using each other’s phrases and belief systems against one another, constantly sending each other up. If you enjoy clever writing, you will enjoy Quartet.V Quartet will be at the Artscape Arena from Wednesday 16 to Saturday 26 November. Tickets cost between R80 and R100 and are available at Compu­ticket.

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