Gardenia, 10 years later

Alain Platel | Frank Van Laecke | Steven Prengels
laGeste & NTGent

Gardenia is a gift to you, a togetherness you have not yet known.

Els Van Steenberghe - Knack Focus

info production


25 June 2010 – the curtain in the NTGent city theatre opens and Gardenia premières. Inspired by the penetrating film Yo soy así (by Sonia Herman Dolz), in which the closing of a transvestite cabaret in Barcelona affords us a glimpse into the private lives of a memorable group of old artists, directors Frank Van Laecke and Alain Platel and composer Steven Prengels said yes to a project that can be called unique in every respect. 

Gardenia goes deep into the turbulent lives of nine striking people. Gardenia is not a work of fiction. Gardenia is a singular account, the most intimate of tales about hope and cherised or lost illusions. Seven older individuals who seemingly effortlessly navigate the twilight zone between being male and being female. In contrast and harmony with a “young guy” and a “real woman”. Each on a quest. Each with their own intriguing story. 

The world embraced the production and for two years Gardenia played over 200 performances with stops at Avignon, Paris, Vienna, Berlin, London, Amsterdam, Belgrade, Barcelona, Lisbon, Oslo, Quebec and Montréal, Adelaide, Taipei and a tour of Russia. In 2012 Gardenia was nominated for the prestigious British Olivier Award. Later, the life of the cast was beautifully portrayed in the documentary Before the last curtain falls, which, in turn, was showered with awards at international film festivals. 

10 years on, the cast is reunited. Or not quite. Andrea has left us forever. And as she went, so did Tina Turner. Eight of them now, they continue. Eight individuals so special you will want to get to know them. Want to embrace them.
What binds them are the marks scored deep on their souls.
What drives them is the unimaginable will to survive.
In the hope they will succeed.
Through transformation. Or not.
In the knowledge that the price is incredibly high. Even today.
Ready to take the stage by storm.
To move and surprise.
To laugh and keep silent.
To sparkle and shine, one more time, somewhere over the rainbow.



directors Frank Van Laecke, Alain Platel
music Steven Prengels
based on a concept of Vanessa Van Durme
created & performed by Vanessa Van Durme, Griet Debacker, Andrea De Laet (†), Richard ‘Tootsie’ Dierick, Danilo Povolo, Gerrit Becker, Hendrik Lebon, Dirk Van Vaerenbergh, Rudy Suwyns
set design Paul Gallis
costume design Marie ‘costume’ Lauwers, Dorine Demuynck, Lutje Tamsin
light Kurt Lefevre (design), Jan Mergaert, Bennert Vancottem
sound Sam Serruys (design), Brecht Beuselinck, Jo Thielemans
stage manager Wim Piqueur, Luc Laroy
costumes realized by atelier NTGent led by An De Mol
coiffures Claudine Grinwis Plaat Stultjes, Dian Vandecruys
set realized by decoratelier NTGent
photography Luk Monsaert
production manager Valerie Desmet
tour manager Katrien Van Gysegem
transport set Maurice Van de Velde

NTGent & les ballets C de la B
coproduction Le Volcan Scène nationale du Havre
original coproducers (2010) NTGent, La rose des vents (Villeneuve d’Ascq), TorinoDanza, Biennale de la danse de Lyon, Tanz im August (Berlin), Théâtre National de Chaillot (Paris), Brighton festival, Centro Cultural Vila Flor Guimarães, La Bâtie-Festival de Genève, Festival d’Avignon
with thanks to Yan Tax, Kryolan
supported by the Flemish authorities, City of Ghent, the Belgian Federal Government's Tax Shelter measure through Flanders Tax Shelter

in loving memory of Andrea De Laet and Ismael Ivo (ImpulsTanz Wien)

calender (21)




duration 1h40 without break
language adapted to the place of the venue (NL/FR/EN)



in the press


Il fallait oser mettre en scène une troupe de huit travestis et transsexuels âgés de 65 à 79 ans. Mais Gardenia, nous a laissés bouleversés et émus, une belle réflexion sur le temps qui passe et l'amour de la vie, intense et surprenante, même lorsque l'on entre dans la saison de l’automne.

"Gardenia is hartverwarmend theater met en over ouder wordende travestieten en transseksuelen. Elf jaar geleden was het stuk een ongelooflijk succes. Nu keren regisseurs Frank Van Laeke en Alain Platel samen met componist Steven Prengel en de acteurs van toen terug naar het podium."

Gardenia – 10 jaar later is een kantwerkje melancholie. Het is bovenal een genot voor het oog en het oor. Het is een ode aan het leven dat je vooral moet leven in het lichaam waarin je kan bloeien als een pioenroos. En het is ook een weldaad voor een droef hart.

The effort to go on that the ageing performers display is a mark of great courage and grace under the pressure of accumulating years. At the end of their time, but still up for it, still game, still putting on the Ritz. Fantabulosa!

Gardenia is a collage-like portrait of gender fluidity, the joys and pains of ageing, and the transformative power of performance. But to view Gardenia simply as a showy demonstration of the art of performing en travesty would be limiting. Abetted by a genius soundtrack from the composer Steven Prengels, the work is deeper, darker and more richly layered than that.

Gardenía, de onverwachte theaterhit die wereldwljd harten veroverde, komt na negen jaar terug.





Through the links below you can find extra information about the performance.

read the reactions of the cast of Gardenia: the cast looks back >

Alain Platel and Frank Van Laecke in conversation with Stan Monstrey, a world authority on transgender surgery.