A Lesson in the Art of Rhetorics.
Belgian writer and performer Valentijin Dhaenens explores the art of oration in the multimedia piece Bigmouth. Famous speeches by a multitude of historical figures, such as Socrates, Hitler and Muhammed Ali are presented through the innovative use of sound technology. Each text is spoken into one of five microphones lined up on a long table on a bare stage as the artist effortlessly switches between languages and accents, dramatically changing his timbre and tone of voice. Dhaenens’ characterisation is supported by sound effects designed and operated live by Jeroen Wuyts, whilst Dhaenens creates delightful musical interludes using loops to sing three-part vocal harmonies with himself.
Bigmouth is a powerful insight into the use of propaganda to fuel war. Valentijin Dhaenens seems to highlight the contradictions of reality through speeches that sound absurd enough to be fictional. The collection of texts is impressively wide, spanning some 2500 years of western civilisation’s history.
Though the piece is heavily text-based and deals with difficult subject matter, the performer with his energy, presence, and charm, keeps us engaged throughout. Bigmouth is not your average entertainment show; it is a thought-provoking work that compels us to engage with difficult truths, and reflect on the world we live in today. It is an ambitious piece performed impeccably by a wonderfully talented actor.
Dhaenens performed his one-man show Bigmouth in the Visy theatre at the Brisbane Powerhouse.