Works: Dolores Bouckaert + Charlotte Bouckaert


Everybody has to leave home sometime

In early 2019, an unknown short story by Sylvia Plath (1932-1964), ‘Mary Ventura and the Ninth Kingdom’, was published. This story, written by Plath in 1953 when she was 20 years old, tells the story of a train journey. It is an allegory for a young woman’s rebellion against convention, in which Plath first experiments with the visual language of Giorgio de Chirico, known for his surrealistic paintings of dark trains and threatening tunnels.

Playwright and writer Dolores Bouckaert and visual artist Charlotte Bouckaert work together for the first time and form the perfect duo to stage this dark story about female agency and independence, about life and death. Everybody has to leave home sometime is a cinematic musical performance. A visual and intellectual journey that immerses the spectator in a world of sound, colour, line and form. Flowing, rhythmic, fragmented and disturbing. On stage, there are two performers and two musicians, and a Magic Machine that captures and screens the film on the spot.

In their performance, the duo focusses on the choices Mary Ventura faces. As a young woman, Mary is placed on a train by her parents for a journey with no stops and to an unknown destination. She feels anxious and afraid, she does not want to go along with the others on the train. One special passenger points out that she does have a choice: ‘Pull the emergency brake Mary!’ Mary does not go along with the others and instead chooses the unknown.

Can we also pull the emergency brake? How can you break the continuous movement that drives you on? Is quitting a solution? Does free will really exist? Or are we in any case subject to outside factors that impose a direction on us? How many decisions do we actually make ourselves? Isn’t it easier and less risky to choose not to choose? 

Plath fought a battle to maintain her independence as a woman and to not go under. A battle she eventually lost. Making art was for her, as well as for Dolores and Charlotte Bouckaert, a way of validating a yearning for honesty and integrity, and of postponing the impending final destination a little while longer.


Concept & performance: Charlotte Bouckaert & Dolores Bouckaert Live music: Benjamin Glorieux & Micha Volders Production: Hiros With the support of: Bozar Residency support: workspacebrussels, Kunstenwerkplaats KWP, les ballets C de la B Commissioned by: EUROPALIA TRAINS & TRACKS