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Carcer Voluntarius

September 2022

Les Bonnes and the Louvain theater awards

Our intimate production of “LES BONNES” was performed with great success. The audience praised the quality and the accessibility of every production aspect, despite Jean Genet’s complex text.

Our performance was honored by the yearly Louvain theater awards. We got one of the three nominations for the “Euripidesprijs” (best play). Fred van Put en Frans Dumortier were nominated for the “Margrietjuweel” (best acting), which was won by Frans. The interplay of the actors was praised in all commentaries, by the public and the jury. Frans illustrated this by giving his “Fiere Margriet” trophy to Lie Hellemans, our third “actrice”. In this way he captured our feelings of connectedness.

Here are the jury reports.

Nomination Euripidesprijs 2022 for Carcer Voluntarius

Solange and Clare are poor sisters, maids. They are forced into complete obedience to their Madam. They fill their hopeless situation with games in which they “act” their Madam, each in turn. They improvise erotic desires. They repeat with strict precision ritual acts in which they strangle Madam, a desire they want to act out in reality. They love each other… but… loving each other while disgusting, is not the same as loving each other.
We watched an incredibly strong direction. On this production had been worked very hard. With passion, with love, with blood, sweat and tears. Typical for the approach of Carcer Voluntarius.
The set was extremely beautiful, though one sees nothing. Only the smell. The smell of decay in the dungeon of Solange, Claire and Madame. Mozarts music lays a blanket over the whole, hope and despair at the same time.
But the most important thing: Jerry Olbrechts guided his team to uncharted heights. Try doing this: on the lap of the audience and an extremely difficult text. For this you need concentration, supreme concentration and focus. And that is exactly one of the traits of Carcer Voluntarius. But most of all you need talent, much, much talent.
Not only Frans Dumortier and Fred van Put were magnificent. Also Lie Hellemans was sublime. Expressive, breathtakingly strong and with eyes filled with strength. She made Solange and Claire act as they act, behave as they behave, be who they are.
Because of a fantastic group effort with Les Bonnes Carcer Voluntarius deserves a thunderous applause.

Nomination Margrietjuweel 2022 for Fred van Put

Fred van Put as “Claire” shows the utmost concentration and focus, which is not obvious, feeling “the breath of the spectator in your neck”. He portrays Claire with much variation, with much subtility. Just as her sister Solange, Claire suffers under the immense weight of Madame. Fred switches perfectly between anger, servility, hate, longing… Rhythm, expression and timing are perfect. Fred acts with great intensity, he has become Claire.
In his diction, expression and posture he heavenly captures Claire’s almost childlike rebellion, again and again suppressed.
Here Fred is positioned against Frans Dumortier. They don’t overstage each other. On the contrary. They are literally and metaphorically “partners in crime”. In the part of “Claire” Fred delivered a wonderful acting performance.
A truly meant applause for Fred and Carcer Voluntarius.

Margrietjuweel 2022 for Frans Dumortier

Jean Genet’s text is an amazing fit for Frans Dumortier. An occasionally poetic text that creates deep wounds. In his diction, in his movement, in his body there is a frail softness and at the same time a tender toughness, characteristics of the feelings of hate against Madame, and the mixed feelings for his sister.
Frans Dumortier is able to open every register. Submissive, creepily submissive against Madame. Exploding in a role play with his sister Claire. In a fraction of a second switching from one emotion into another. His gaze, his piercing gaze, his gazes that tells you everything. His wonderful, dosed voice, always under control, even when the volcano is about to burst. Carried by sublime support by both Fred van Put and Lie Hellemans, Frans offers a combination of concentration, focus and big talent.
A heartwarming applause for Frans Dumortier and Carcer Voluntarius.

April 2022

Les Bonnes

Carcer Voluntarius plays with Jean Genet


Solange and Clare are poor sisters, maids. They are forced into complete obedience to their Madam. They fill their hopeless situation with games in which they “act” their Madam, each in turn. They improvise erotic desires. They repeat with strict precision ritual acts in which they strangle Madam, a desire they want to act out in reality.


Frans Dumortier (Solange)
Fred Van Put (Claire)
Lie Hellemans (Madam)


Jerry Olbrechts (translation, scenography, direction)
Peter Ariën (scenery, website)


12, 13, 14, 15, 19, 20, 21 mei 2022 – 20.00 p.m.
Salco – Geldenaaksebaan 277 3001 Heverlee, Belgium
€9 - €5 (students, unemployed) - €1.8 (UiTPAS)

Book your seats here.

We can perform in living rooms, so the scale of our production is small.
Let us know if you are interested in inviting us.
Surtitles in English are not available, but are possible.

“The actrices withdraw their movements, as if each movement is interrupted, or broken. Each movement erases the actrices. It were good if, once in a while, they would tiptoe, after they had carefully taken one or two shoes in their hand, and they would put them on a piece of furniture, avoiding to with them – not to stay silent for the downstairs neighbours, but because the action is part of the style. (…)
The two maids are not bitches: they have become old, they have gotten skinny in the gentleness of Madam. They do not have to be pretty, which would immediately show their beauty to the spectators from the moment the curtain is raised, but we should see them embellish through the night, until the very last moment. (…)
And if you want to perform in Epidavros? It suffices that, at the beginning of the performance, the three actrices would enter the stage and, under the eye of the public, agree on the corners on stage, which they would name: bed, window, wardrobe, door, dressing table, etc. Then they can disappear, to reappear immediately in the order the author wanted.” (Jean Genet)

“In nature the tragic is found in what is actually happening. In art it is more found in style than in what is happening. It is possible to paint a herring tragically, even if such an animal has got nothing tragical in itself.

About Les Bonnes

(original texts)

“Les Bonnes” van Willighe Vanckenis
Comment jouer “Les Bonnes” – Préface
Kaas - Inleiding
Equality and Love at the End of The Marriage of Figaro: Forging Democratic Emotions

October 2020

Les Bonnes – interrupted

In season 2019-2020 we planned a technical and narratively simple production, with a short series of theater shows, followed by a series of performances in private homes. Les Bonnes (“The Maids”, by Jean Genet) is a theatrical text about (gender) identity, role play, eroticism and power relationships. We worked on a hybrid performance (dance/text theater), with three performers and a lot of attention to skin contact. Remarkably the owners of the theatrical rights gave us the permission to make our own, brand new translation of this French play from 1947.

Six weeks before opening night in May 2020 we had to stop the rehearsals because of the corona pandemic. Logistically the production was ready.

At the moment we would love to pick up Les Bonnes when it is possible in a save way. We hope the enthusiasm of the performers won’t cool down.

Because of the health crisis we are all obliged to express ourselves in a new way. Maybe that new “body language” will be part of our final production: “social distance”, in a show about the eroticism of the body.

October 2020

Project “Scheutsite”

In season 2019-2020 Carcer Voluntarius partook in a co-creation trajectory, organized by the city of Louvain, our home base. A former religious domain has transformed into the “Scheutsite”, where many local social and cultural organizations may (cheaply) find a steady home. One of the conditions that enlarged changes to a spot in the enormous building on the site were “partnerships”. Collaborating with other groups is part of our DNA, and we took the initiative to find partners. And we did, rather swiftly.

We are happy to share storage and rehearsal space with theatrical groups from Leuven. The other residential organizations may lead to even more exciting collaborations in the future. Meanwhile we have new friends to share our logistics with.

The participants of our collaboration are interested in a future collaboration for a shared theater production. Although the current corona pandemic is slowing down our move to the Scheutsite, we hope our ways will also cross artistically in future.


July 2020

Project Verantwoordelijkheid/Responsibility in retrospect

Our theatrical multimedia project Verantwoordelijkheid/Responsibility (April/May 2019) combined an incubation period on social media and a series of shows in a context of multimedia.

Acting: Tuur Dutoit, Frans Dumortier, Johanna Goris, Lie Hellemans, Anna Kostyleva, Nele Vaes, Jan Van den Broeck and Fred Van Put. Musicians: Margot Brumagne, Mehrad Naghashzadegan en Kobe Vaes. Set: Peter Ariën. Film, sound, editing: Alexander Marinissen. Camera: Alexander Delanote. Subtitling: Els Bouwen. Website: Tuur Dutoit. Photography: Tuur Dutoit. Costumes: Jerry Olbrechts, Olga Maknovska. Make-up: Kanittha Paksee. Direction, concept, production: Jerry Olbrechts.

We performed for full houses, and the audience was not bored.

Our special production is not on line anymore, but you can still find some thematical background on Instagram and Twitter. (In order to make the project accessible, we communicated in two languages.)



Contemporary themes (migration, identity, gender and racism) were highlighted in two intertwined classic repertory texts by Henrik Ibsen and Joe Orton. Our story was set alternately in 2010 and 2015. In that year Alan Kurdi, the drowned refugee child with the red T-shirt, moved Europe’s heart.

There were different age generations on stage, and we focused on “the creation of identities with our own body’s”. Each character had to deal with problematic issues: “loss”, and “the tension between barely surviving or leaving”. Two stories packed with family relationships and histories created relatable scenes bursting with emotions.

We debated amongst each other, and after the show with the audience: can an actor naturally, without objection, act any character whatsoever, or must he restrict himself to the cultural group he/she belongs to? Can we show confronting images and words considering identity, sexual orientation, race and nationality without warning? Our production showed paradoxical (political) ideas and convictions simultaneously, while we tickled the emotions as well as the brain of the audience. Hence we evoked more questions than answers, which was our intention.

We created a “studio”, with the projection of live close-ups, and confronted the audience with documentary footage and music whilst the scenes were performed. There were surtitles in English and Dutch, so the dialogues in local dialect were as accessible as possible. Several members of the audience were bothered by this abundance. Fortunately most acknowledged how we tried to translate contemporary media-experiences into a theatrical form, “like in real life”. It was as if we made our own media-bubble for the time of the performance. At the beginning of the production process we envisioned “something like a complex HBO-series”. We noticed that amongst the audience precisely the youngsters got genuinely excited by our show, or, as one young man uttered: “This is theater for people who don’t like theater!”

We also partook in theater competitions: the “Landjuweel” and the “Leuvense Toneelprijzen”. The elaborate jury report of the Landjuweel praised our intelligent mix of stories and forms, the technical virtuosity, the acting performances and the ambitious enthusiasm of our group. The jury stipulated that the multitude of threads of our performance made it too difficult to follow, and advised more simplicity in future. We feel sorry our open style of storytelling was struggled with.

We read the same reservations in the short jury report of the Leuvense toneelprijzen, though we feel very proud of their words of praise.

“We know that Jerry Olbrechts does not shy away from extremely creative productions. Here he had two plays run through each other and he made it work. Yet this was a serious assignment, for the public and for the actors. At first we struggled with the who’s who and what’s what, but after a while we empathized with the story. We had the impression that not everyone in the audience got it, it stayed heavy stuff in content. Many technical devices like the projection of texts and live video images hindered more or less our empathizing. The acting performances were very good and homogenous despite a few less experienced actors. Frans Dumortier and Lie Hellemans were excellent.

Yet again a very remarkable production by Carcer Voluntarius. Few can do the same.”

March 2019


Carcer Voluntarius performs double bill repertory theater.

LILLE EYOLF (Henrik Ibsen)

Actors create identities, ages, genders

Two families in a recent past
Inappropriate behaviour
A soundtrack of seventies hits
We feed the audience with fact and fiction
We share emotions
We share

Dutch and English surtitling

April 25, 26 and May 2, 3, 4, 5
8.00 PM
Salco – Geldenaaksebaan 277 3001 Heverlee

April 27, 28
8.00 PM
30CC/Wagehuys – Brusselsestraat 63 3000 Leuven

September 2018


In season 2018-2019 Carcer Voluntarius plans a theater experience based on several classical theater texts on responsibility of the old for the young, of parents for children and of the mighty for the repressed. In this respect we will investigate contemporary morality issues considering the creation of identity, in “real life” and in theater.

Performances in April 2019 will be the final destination of a journey that will start in September 2018 on different social media. Our creation process will be shared on a specific website, a Youtube-channel, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and an online-forum.

Carcer Voluntarius

We hope using English as a main language, and English subtitles in our Dutch-spoken performances, will open up our small story to a broader audience. From 2018 “Willighe Vanckenis” becomes “Carcer Voluntarius” as well, and the title of our new project will not only be “Verantwoordelijkheid”, but also “Responsibility”. All aboard!