het Theater Festival

“It is rare to see a narrative on stage that dares to be so encompassing in both the time arc and the (dark) themes it covers, ranging from paedophilia to collaboration.”


Grandpa Puss; or how God disappeared

Lisaboa Houbrechts / laGeste


Lisaboa Houbrechts writes and stages a family epic that spans three generations. She looks back at the times of her grandparents, her parents and her own generation. She goes in search of how the small is interwoven with the large, the intimate with the political, and the past with the present. The main character is a twelve-year-old girl who stands at the end of a long history and dives into the hidden traumas of the past. Lisaboa Houbrechts elaborates the fictional story in images, text, dance and music.

The twelve-year-old Granddaughter of All Granddaughters looks back into her grandfather’s past. His childhood, the war, sexual abuse in the fraternity school and the cruel marriage with Grandma Puss. Historical traumas mingle with current events. The Granddaughter of All Granddaughters is magical. She struggles through the pool of memories to visit the children of the past. The violence done to children determines the violence of tomorrow.

Grandpa Puss; or how God disappeared tells the story of a family breakdown in which Grandpa Puss and his son sacrifice their faith and nail Jesus to the Cross. This to the despair of Grandma Puss who wants to keep her family pious and pure in a world that is becoming more and more secular in the 1970s.

In a profound collage of intense images, texts and music, Lisaboa Houbrechts interweaves fragments of Bach’s St John Passion with her own texts. She connects Bach with contemporary electronic music and all the sound possibilities of an accordion. She gives a voice and a body to the disappearing Jesus and goes in search of a different form of faith.

For this grand narrative, Lisaboa Houbrechts works with players, singers and musicians of all ages. From children to young adult performers to some established theatre monuments. She builds a house of magic and poetry in which the children of today play with the young versions of their parents and grandparents.


“It is a dark tale. It opens wounds and sewers. It is about how children are trapped in a chain of violence. The urge to break that chain can release a tremendous life force and imagination, but it can also implode into a cycle of destruction. The space between theatre and opera is the perfect form to bring this most intimate to a radical expression.”
Lisaboa Houbrechts

Text & direction: Lisaboa Houbrechts
Arias, chorals and recitatives: J. S. Bach
Musical direction & arrangements: Pedro Beriso
with Alberto Martinez, Boule Mpanya, Driss Vandekerckhove, Eddie Dumont, Elisa Soster, Elsie de Brauw, Ferre Vereecken, Jules Dorné, Pieter Ampe, Philippe Thuriot, Stefaan Degand, Wolf De Graeve, Zofia Hanna.
Arrangements for accordion & tenor: Philippe Thuriot
Composition & realization music score: Bert & Stijn Cools (granvat)
Scenography & puppets: Filip Peeters
Costumes: Oumar Dicko
Lightdesign: Fabiana Piccioli
Dramaturgy: Hildegard De Vuyst
Musical dramaturgy: Piet De Volder
Orchestra (recording): Orkest Opera Ballet Vlaanderen
Light technician: Bennert Vancottem
Sound technician/recording: Brecht Beuselinck
Realization costumes: Oumar Dicko in collaboration with costumes atelier Toneelhuis (Kathleen Van Mechelen, Kasia Mielczarek, Liezelot Osselaer, Monique Van Hassel)
Realization set & puppets: Filip Peeters in collaboration with atelier FroeFroe (Marc Maillard)
Stage director assistant: Lieselot Siddiki
Touring: Helena Elshout / laGeste
Photography: Kurt Van der Elst

Production: laGeste (BE)
Co–production: Opera Ballet Vlaanderen (BE), Toneelhuis (BE), Le Phénix Scène nationale de Valenciennes (FR), MC 93 (FR), Opéra de Lille (FR) and Holland Festival (NL)
Thanks to: De School van Gaasbeek
Supported by: City of Ghent, Flemish Authorities and the Belgian Federal Government's Tax Shelter measure through Flanders Tax Shelter

€26 / +65: €24 / -26: €22 / -18: €14
duration: 105 min.
language: Dutch with English and French surtitles