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How the villain became a good example

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Two year research project

Promoters: Dimitri Goossens en Bob Selderslaghs

The project starts from a personal dilemma. My 14-year-old daughter asks, "Mummy. Palestine and Israel, that violence, I don't understand. Who should I be for?" I answer as best I can as a mother. But what artistic means as a maker of theater for young audiences are at my disposal to raise moral issues?

As a symbol figure within moral conflicts, the archetype villain is representative of that which a society considers its dark side. Although moral frameworks are rarely completely clear. Orientation in this ambiguous field often happens through simplification and a representation of the villain in easily recognisable performances. However, stereotyping in aesthetics and characterisation is also a traditional theatrical means of approaching dramatic conflict. Deconstruction of stereotypes brings nuance entrenched patterns of thought, but also raises questions about narrative in drama.


From literature study with a focus on the 'villainousness' of some notorious villains, insights from philosophy, anthropology and psychology, and archival research, the project then consists of practice as research through the creation process of a lecture performance for adolescents. A 'mentor class' (4th secondary) accompanies the process as a focus group. Through an audio log with participant observations, video recordings of the creation process and focus group discussions, the research attempts to distil findings that formulate an answer to the research question: How much deconstruction can the villain handle without losing its role as ‘evil’ archetype in theater performance practice?


The research results will be shared in master classes with students of the KCA (Educational Master Drama and Bachelor Drama), among others.




Annika Serong is a theater actress and -maker. Born in 1975 in Germany, she came to Belgium to be formed at the International Theatre School Kleine Academie in Brussels. Based on the physical method invented by Jacques Lecoq, the school focussed on creative theatre that uses languages in which the actor's physical performance is central.

Since then Annika has been working for Agora Theatre, the theatre of the Germanspeaking community of Belgium next to working as a freelance actress in various productions and for tv and film.


In 2022 she finished a master's degree in theatre-and filmstudies at the University of Antwerp.

Image: Linde Raedschelders
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