Valentijn Dhaenens / SKaGeN / Richard Jordan Productions / Theatre Royal Plymouth

Double Bill: BigMouth/SmallWar

Valentijn Dhaenens brings two monologues on one evening. In BigMouth, he provides a glimpse into the manipulations of the clever rhetorician and politician. In SmallWar, he zooms in on the common man during the First World War, who experiences the consequences of the political game firsthand.


In BigMouth, Valentijn Dhaenens brings an ode to 2500 years of rhetorics. With fragments from familiar and lesser-known speeches, he shows that rhetoricians' tricks have hardly changed over the years. The sermon, the declaration of war, the farewell, the closing speech, the victory speech, the eulogy. Those who choose their words well can turn the weakest argument into the strongest. The absolute truth does not exist. Those who aspire world power or want to win the hand of a loved one can make a lie truth by means of speech. 

Since the 2008 premiere, Dhaenens has performedBigMouth more than 300 times in more than 25 countries, including the US and Iran. The production was awarded with 5-star reviews and international prizes. In 2018 Valentijn Dhaenens closes the chapter of BigMouth after exactly ten years with one final tour. For these last performances, BigMouth forms a double bill with SmallWar, a monologue that Valentine Dhaenens made a few years later and that since then, like BigMouth, has garnered international attention and praise. 


In SmallWar, Valentine Dhaenens presents the other side of the coin. What are the consequences of the inciting words of power-hungry world leaders for the common man in the street? What about the people who have to fight the wars these rhetoricians have plunged the world into? Dhaenens zooms in on a field hospital during the First World War. A cynical nurse, a deserter, an ambulance officer, and a defeated doctor-surgeon, they all bring their honest story.


At the matinee performance of Sunday 7 October, de Brakke Grond and Comité 4 en 5 mei organize a special program about the commemoration of the First and Second World War. In the Netherlands we commemorate the Second World War and war casualties that have fallen ever since. In Belgium, the First World War is also commemorated, sometimes even more intensely so than the Second. Why is that? What are the similarities and differences between the ways in which both countries commemorate?

Valentijn Dhaenens

Valentijn Dhaenens (1976) is a Flemish theater and film actor. He graduated in 2000 from the then Herman Teirlinck Institute (now the Conservatory of Antwerp). Together with a number of fellow acting students, he founded the theater company SKaGeN in 2000. Dhaenens experienced his great breakthrough in 2008 with DegrotemonD, which was renamed BigMouth for the international tours that followed.

In the press

★★★★  The Guardian
On BigMouth: "Assisted by a long table, several microphones, some glasses of water and a blackboard, Valentijn Dhaenens employs not just his voice but his entire body to examine justice, war, racism and retribution" 
Read the review 


★★★★   Theaterkrant
On SmallWar: "Without false sentiment, without spectacle, but subtle and sober in words and images, the individual suffering of the small person is universally outlined. This narrative is a striking monument for all victims of all wars." 
Read the review (in Dutch)  

Concept and actingValentijn Dhaenens
lighting and sound designJeroen Wuyts
CostumesBarbara De Laere
ManagementKorneel Hamers
ProductionSKaGeN, Richard Jordan Productions, Theatre Royal Plymouth, Stuk Leuven, De Tijd, Vilanella & DEStudio