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TITLE OF GOOD PRACTICE:

Exploitation of the theatre play « Niets » and the film « Ben X »

KEYWORDS:

Autism, difference, violence, drug, suicide, theatre, cinema

GOOD PRACTICE TYPOLOGY:

theatre and cinema

TARGET GROUPS:

The play and the film are intended for the general public and for the school public, as well as to the persons working in the associative, medical, psychological or social field.

WORKING GROUP COORDINATING THE INITIATIVE:

It is a local news item, “in Ghent (Belgian city of Flanders) an autistic young boy bullied at school commits suicide throwing himself out of the window”, that gives the Flemish producer, Nic Balthazar, the idea to take an interest in the theme

COUNTRY WHERE IT TOOK PLACE:

Belgium

LANGUAGE OF THE REVIEW:

English

DEFINITION OF TARGET GROUP:

Parents, Policy Makers, Teachers, Researchers, Young People, School Directors, .

DESCRIPTION OF THE GOOD PRACTICE:

In 2009, Annick Notte, French-speaking director, interested in the form and the theme of the movie, decides to realise a French adaptation of the play that has been very successful in its Flemish adaptation.

Its credo? A touching theatre, a speaking body and the words sonority to express a « distinctive » vision of the world.

Presentation
« Niets » stages Ben, a lightly autistic teenager, as well as his family, school and social circles.
For Ben, discrimination and mockeries make part of everyday life. He dreams of changing that or of leaving.
Ben turns his back, sat down at the table in front of his PC. He plays videogames, symbol of the fight that he leads everyday with the external life.
He is constantly battling with himself and with the world. During two hours, he shares with the public his questions, his emotions and his anger, that torture his mind.
He plays with the words, many words. He takes refuge behind these words that help him to express the feeling of a confused existence. Or of a non-existence that he wants to kill.

« Niets » is a very corporal and visual spectacle that puts directly in question our emotions.
So far from the «happy end» of the film « Ben X », the play, through its opened end, invites to reflexion and research of solutions.

Beyond autism, the play broaches the theme of the « difference », approached here at the age of late adolescence through a range of themes such as violence at school, suicide of young people, drug at school, bullying, videogame,…

It aims to arouse in the audience, the awareness of one’s own negative reactions facing this “difference” and to contribute in that way to a larger respect, a larger attention and thus to a better communication and a “live-better” together.

That is what Annik Notte states: « this spectacle makes us think about our responsibility to live better together ».

Supports
The play of the actor is supported by televisional and video supports. As the author says about his play, it is a “dialog between actor and video”.
The video is not only a visual background, but it also takes part in the story and in the suspense through different kinds of images (TV reportage, imaginary world under the form of a videogame, subjective images of Ben) and through confirmations, invalidations and nuances that it brings to what character says and lives on stage.

Scenography
The scenography is refined, it allows the spectator to imagine, it allows questioning: where is Ben? In his room, in jail, in a (psychiatric) hospital, in the hereafter… Is the space the projection of his mental universe?
The power of the scenography also lies in its structure, in which everything brings sense : words, clothes, decors, music… contribute to a sincere and painful reflexion about autism.


Writing
The writing is uncommon. In fact, how to make a person with problems of communication or even unable to communicate speak on stage?
The author chooses to make Ben speak in a quasi-poetical way, in a discourse with rhymes, rhythms, assonances and neologisms that calls the resources of poetry and song.

RESULTS:

The play is lauded by the critics and spectators. A journalist writes : « A powerful and sensitive spectacle about autism ».
The comments of the audience are laudatory as regards the staging and the wonderful acting of the main character :
http://enseignement.catholique.be/segec/fileadmin/DocsFede/Actualites/Niets/Niets_Reactions_spectateurs.pdf

INDICATORS:

Definition of bullying or cyberbullying, Teacher training, School conferences, Information for parents, Videos.

EVALUATION:

The play « Niets » is designed to make the pupils (15 up to 18 years old) aware of bullying problems, difference, suicide and teenagers addiction to Internet.
In reality the story ended badly because the teenager committed suicide, but the play gives other prospects.
This play is an extraordinary lever for prevention in schools.
pages

COMMENT:

The play is recommended by everyone who has seen it.

REFERENCES TO OTHER EVALUATION:

Contact with the stage director, Annik Notte : 00 32 81 41 32 05 – 0474/75 28 25 – [email protected]

Presentation of the play : http://www.iwsm.be/pdf_dir/niets%201.pdf

Pedagogical dossier of the movie “Ben X” : http://www.grignoux.be/dossiers-pedagogiques-250

NAME OF COMPILER:

Martine PRIGNON

NAME OF INSTITUTION:

INFOREF

ROLE:

Management of projects

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