het Theater Festival

“Geef mijn hand terug (Give back my hand) may be this season’s best kept secret.”

Jury report

“Hessels and Van den Brande play the emotional card without being corny.”

Het Nieuwsblad

Give my hand back (10+)


Give my hand back tells a story about an incurable disease, fate, the vulnerability of things, the reactions of awkward bystanders and all the tragic and comic situations that result from this. A discussion between two friends. Free from taboos and packed with humour.

A few years ago, Jan De Brabander, designer and scenographer for BRONKS amongst others, found out that he had a disease. A disease whose only certainty was that it could only get worse. How much worse? How quickly? No one knows. Jan told his story to Joris Van den Brande, who distilled it into a universal theatre text. Joris Hessels and Joris Van den Brande offer a sublime presentation of this vulnerable tale.

by Jan De Brabander & Joris Van den Brande | text Joris Van den Brande | with Joris Hessels & Joris Van den Brande | coach Tom Dupont | technique Thomas Clause | production BRONKS | with the support of het Vlaamse Fonds voor Letteren

From the jury report:

Geef mijn hand terug (Give back my hand) may be this season’s best kept secret. No, this show has no need for ‘innovative’ decisions regarding the staging, for clever dramaturgy or a majestic set. The scale of it may be small, but the way it makes a big theme discussable for a young, but also old(er) audience is courageous and spot-on. Geef mijn hand terug tells the story of Jan, who has Parkinson’s disease, and his friend Joris. Together the two chums, played by Joris Hessels and Joris Van den Brande, look for ways of finding words for terminal illness. For ways of expressing Jan’s fear of going downhill and Joris’ fear of having to cope without his friend. For what friendship can mean when the sword of Damocles is suspended over your head. For fate and for unfairness.  

Many like to use metaphors to skirt around death. Not here. Not Hessels and Vanden Brande, who look fear and each other straight in the eye – sometimes awkwardly, sometimes silently, sometimes tragicomically, but always with complete sincerity and pragmatism. Their flawless performance probes to the very crux of the matter (and the heart) and that is precisely what makes this show so chastening. On many levels you feel that this story has been taken from life, inspired partly by the experiences of Jan De Brabander, the in-house scenographer and set designer with the BRONKS theatre in Brussels who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s five years ago. It makes Geef mijn hand terug one of the most sincere and genuine productions we have seen this season.

€16 (standard) / €12 (-25/65+, professionals) / €8 (-19)
duration: 60 min.
language: Dutch spoken