Kaspar

a play by Stijn Devillé & Adriaan Van Aken

9 scenes for at least 3 actors
 
 
Kaspar is contemporary playwriting in its purest form. Seldom an audience was shown a play as colorful and eclectic as this one. It starts out as an bivocal oratorio, an elegy on Kaspar’s dead body, soon to become a piece of nice and simple show-and-tell-theatre, a series of songs, jokes and sketches, a summary of the alpha and omega of life on earth, a commercial for a circus act, an attempt to break the guinness world record in ‘not mentioning someone’, an anecdote about one of the actors new-born daughter, a fire-and-brimstone sermon, a lengthy description of an angry crowd forming a mob,... all to become a bivocal oratorio again in the end, a bunch of people mourning over the death of a child. 
 
Kaspar of course is Kaspar Hauser, Child of Europe, the kid that became famous in the whole world by simply spending most of his youth (more than 10 years!) in a dark cellarspace somewhere in the german countryside in the early 19th century. He never saw anyone, never heard a sound, never smelled anything but his own faeces and the spicy bread he was served every day by a guard that always kept as silent and invisible as he was.
 
At the age of 16, Kaspar was set free in the city of Nürnberg and left to his own. Because he was funny-looking, unable to walk and speak properly (he didn’t know more than three words and a couple of short sentences like ‘I want to be a rider, like my father’) people thought he was a weirdo of some sort and locked him up in jail. It didn’t take long though before they realised he was everything but a criminal, so they moved him to the teacher’s house where he learned the german language in almost no time and lots of other highly important stuff too, like latin and high-level mathemathics, so that in the end he became what everybody else already was: a friendly, polite and hard-working german guy in a nice suit with nothing else to ask for than the latest BMW on the porch of his ugly new house. Maybe that’s the reason why Kaspar was murdered. Because in the beginning he made us dream of what we can be, but in the end he only reminded us of what we already are: not very much.   
 
The eclecticism of the play doesn’t only involve the scene-structure, it’s more than that. The writers don’t see any problem in switching between a german and a belgian, a historical and a contemporary context. Not just for fun – although they seemed to have had plenty of that – but also to be able to tell their own story with the Kaspar Hauser biography as a starting point.
 
The story of the Belgium of Marc Dutroux, kidnapper and rapist of six young children (that he kept in a small cellarspace) and brutal killer of four of them, is probably the most important. The revealing of this scandal sent huge shockwaves trough the country and led to a cathartic climax, the so-called ‘white march’: 300.000 people demanding justice in the streets of Brussels. But this version of the Kaspar Hauser story is also one of a stranger trying to fit in, the story of the rise and downfall of a new-born star.
 
Nevertheless one thing is very clear. The writers didn’t choose to make Kaspar the main character of the play. The play rather tells the story of the people surrounding him: in the very beginning they see Kaspar as kind of a hero, a messiah almost, a victim who survived. In the end they look at him as if he were an imposter, a nasty bug, a botherer, a perpetrator instead of a victim. He himself will be called a Marc Dutroux by the angry and frightened mob before he is stabbed to death. Even the narrators, who in the beginning sing the elegy of Kaspar, will abandon their hero in the end.
 
In the text, each character/voice starts at another tabulator distance of the left margin. There are no other indications of characters (no names, numbers etc.).