Godiva: the joy of playing together (2012-2014)

According to the legend, Lady Godiva was an Angelo – Saxon noblewoman from the 11th century. In order to gain a remission on the oppressive taxations imposed by her husband, the duke of Mercia, on the citizens she rode naked on a horse through the streets of Coventry. She concluded a pact with the citizens of the town: all windows, doors and curtains had to remain closed. The streets of Mercia should be empty and know one would look upon her naked. Only one man, Peeping Tom, couldn’t resist. He got punished for his voyeurism by blindness. Impressed by the courage of his wife, Leofric then lowered the taxes.

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When we were children, we used to think that when we were grown-up we would no longer be vulnerable. But to grow up is to accept vulnerability. To be alive is to be vulnerable.” (Madeleine L’Engle)

The legend of Lady Godiva raises questions about gender relations, about voyeurism and exhibitionism, about vulnerability and empathy, solidarity and activism, the private versus the public space. At the same time the story illustrates the need to express and the courage to show ourselves as vulnerable human beings.

But the legend of Lady Godiva does not only tell the story of a woman riding naked on a horse. What is equally important is our interpretation of the story. For Rebecca Lenaerts the legend and its ambiguity are the starting point for a collaboration with a group of people. A dialog unfolds. Participants are invited to act, react and interact with each other. The framework is set. We define our own roles and rules. Which parts of ourselves do we choose (not) to show to others?

Godiva: the joy of playing together is a workshop and performance during which the border between participant and performer fades. The act of performing becomes a vehicle for (personal) transformation.

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