BALSAM 
Tantalizing herb laboratory

The theatre company Laika and the music ensemble Zefiro Torna have created their very first show together. BALSAM is a sensory and musical performance. An alchemistic concert. A seductive laboratory in which live music mingles with intoxicating aromas and tastes and with visual and physical experiences.

The music is a collection of vocal and instrumental compositions with titles like ‘Artemisia absinthium’ and ‘Les Roses de Saadi’, referencing the healing, stimulating and tantalizing effect of plants and herbs. Drawing on the Bible’s Songs of Songs, on verses by Virgil and Horace and on the poetry of Baudelaire and Verhaeren, the lyrics tell of the game of love, of longing and heartbreak, of the sweet fragrance of jasmine and the beauty of a tree. Above all, they celebrate nature, which is breathtaking and unfathomable. Traditional songs from Portugal, Greece and Iceland, the mystical sounds of Hildegard Von Bingen and fifteenth-century polyphony have been adapted and supplemented with specially written compositions. It is music for daydreaming, both spiritual and sensuous, worldly and celestial – as an ode to life and its mysteries.

Inspired by this music, theatre-makers Peter De Bie and Sara Sampelayo created an alchemistic laboratory. The audience sits in a pentagram with the musicians around them. This ancient form refers to the theory of the quintessenses or five elements which make up all living things. Alchemists believed that the fifth substance can only be attained through a life-long search – hence their experiments to find the ‘ultimate gold’.

Against a background of music, the audience witnesses all kinds of experiments, whereby ingredients are transformed into something else using an alchemistic process of dissolution, fermentation, distillation and so forth. Liquid turns to solid; wet to dry; cold to hot, and vice versa. Oil solidifies to form edible pearls, a bud produces an electrical sensation, a mineral turns out to be a sweet treat…

The result of this visual spectacle is a sensory experience of balsams, powders, drinks and canapés of every smell, colour and taste, served to the audience by the performers and shared with those seated next to you. Conviviality as consolation, because the question remains: will the ‘ultimate gold’ ever be found?

“Alchemical, magical, ethereal, sensual. A wonderful evening.”
Miko, 15 September
“Alchemical, magical, ethereal, sensual. A wonderful evening.”
Miko, 15 September
“Fantastic display! Unique, different and pretty magical! Excellent singing and performance.”
Janine, 15 September
“Fantastic display! Unique, different and pretty magical! Excellent singing and performance.”
Janine, 15 September
“Loved every second. Brilliant piece of theatre”
Ian Pettitt, 12 September
“Loved every second. Brilliant piece of theatre”
Ian Pettitt, 12 September
“What a great experience! The combination of music, smell and food!”
Ayan Coumans, 30 August
“What a great experience! The combination of music, smell and food!”
Ayan Coumans, 30 August
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Laika and Zefiro Torna COPRODUCED WITH Le Volcan, scène nationale du Havre and Le Channel, scène nationale de Calais I WITH THE SUPPORT OF of The Flemish Community and the Federal Belgian Government's Tax Schelter scheme  |  MUSICAL CONCEPT, LUTE, BAROQUE GUITAR, CHITARRONE Jurgen De bruyn SENSORY CONCEPT Peter De Bie and Sara Sampelayo DIRECTOR Jo Roets VOCALS Elly Aerden, Raphaël De Cock and Jurgen De bruyn CHATKAN Elly Aerden FLUTE, SOPRANO SAXOPHONE AND COMPOSITION Philippe Laloy RECORDERS, FRENCH BAGPIPES, BUGLE, PERCUSSION, UKULELE, SINGING AND COMPOSITIONS Jowan Merckx UILLEANN PIPES, BAWU, CHATKAN, KAVAL, HARDANGER FIDDLE, OVERTONE FLUTE, JEW’S HARP, DUDUK, SINGING AND OVERTONE SINGING Raphaël De Cock BASS CLARINET Jean-Philippe Poncin ALCHEMISTS Peter De Bie, Sara Sampelayo and Simone Milsdochter/Arnout Vandamme/Bram Smeyers COSTUMES Manuela Lauwers DRAMATURGY Mieke Versyp CULINARY 'INJECTION' CONTEMPORARY Alexandre Gauthier TECHNICIANS AND PRODUCTION Marlies Jacques, Pieter Smet, Rik Van Gysegem, Anton Van Haver, Thomas Stevens and Tom Daniëls IN ASSOCIATION WITH Kopspel vzw
Trailer
Tour dates
Show past datesHide past dates
January 2020
Calais
Le Channel +33 (0)321 467700
Fr31/0120:00 Premiere
February 2020
Calais
Le Channel +33 (0)321 467700
Sa01/0219:30
Su02/0217:00
March 2020
Le Havre
Le Volcan +33 (0)235 191006
We11/0319:30
Th12/0319:30
July 2020
Antwerpen
We01/0720:00 Premiere
Th02/0716:00, 20:00
Fr03/0716:00, 20:00
Sa04/0716:00, 20:00
Su05/0716:00, 20:00
We08/0720:00
Th09/0716:00, 20:00
Fr10/0716:00, 20:00
Sa11/0716:00, 20:00
Su12/0716:00, 20:00
We15/0720:00
Th16/0716:00, 20:00
Fr17/0716:00, 20:00
Sa18/0716:00, 20:00
Su19/0716:00, 20:00
We22/0720:00
Th23/0716:00, 20:00
Fr24/0716:00, 20:00
Sa25/0716:00, 20:00
Su26/0716:00, 20:00
September 2020
Rotterdam
Sa26/0915:00, 20:00
Su27/0915:00, 20:00
June 2021
Lens Cedex
Sa12/0612:00, 19:00
August 2021
's Hertogenbosch
Theaterfestival Boulevard
1931 Congrescentrum +31 (0)73 6124505
Th05/0816:30, 20:30
Fr06/0816:30, 20:30
Sa07/0816:30, 20:30
Su08/0816:30, 20:30
Tu10/0816:30, 20:30
We11/0816:30, 20:30
Heerlen
Cultura Nova
Theater Kerkrade +31 (0)45 5716607
Fr27/0819:30
Sa28/0819:30
Su29/0814:00, 19:30
September 2021
Genk
C-mine Cultuurcentrum Genk
Grote zaal 089 65 44 90
Th02/0917:00, 21:00
Fr03/0921:00
Sa04/0917:00, 21:00
Londen
Tu07/0920:30
We08/0920:30
Th09/0920:30
Fr10/0920:30
Sa11/0920:30
Strombeek-Bever
Fr24/0920:30
Sa25/0920:30
Su26/0916:00, 20:30
October 2021
Bruxelles
Su03/1012:00, 18:00
Tongeren
De Velinx
Scène op scène 012 80 00 40
Fr08/1020:30
October 2021
Ninove
CC De Plomblom 054 34 10 01
Fr22/1020:00
Heusden-Zolder
CC MUZE 011 80 80 98
Fr29/1020:15
Sa30/1020:15
November 2021
Groningen
Stadsschouwburg Groningen
De oosterpoort (0)50/368.0.368
Tu09/1120:15
Aljezur
Th18/1119:00
Fr19/1119:00
Sa20/1119:00
Su21/1119:00
Saintes
Gallia Théâtre +33 (0)546 921020
Th25/1120:00
Fr26/1119:30
Alençon
Scène Nationale 61
Carré du Perche +33 (0)233 291696
Tu30/1120:00
December 2021
Alençon
Scène Nationale 61
Carré du Perche +33 (0)233 291696
We01/1220:00
Th02/1219:30
Blankenberge
Cultuurcentrum Blankenberge
Saveryszaal, Casino Blankenberge 050 636 600
Sa11/1220:00
Eeklo
CC De Herbakker
CC Den Hoogen Pad 09 218 27 27
Th16/1220:30
Kapellen
Cultuurcentrum Kapellen
LUX 03 660 67 50
We22/1220:30
Th23/1220:30
Mechelen
Tu28/1220:00
We29/1220:00
January 2022
Den Haag
Amare (+31)70 88 00 333
Sa08/0115:30, 20:30
Su09/0112:00, 17:00
Heist-op-den-Berg
Fr28/0120:30
Luxemburg
Su30/0116:00
Mo31/0110:00
March 2022
Zaventem
Cultuurcentrum De Factorij
Theaterzaal
Fr11/0320:00
Press
08/09/2021
"An unexpected smorgasbord of sensory titillation – ready your eyes, ears, nose and tastebuds for a voyage of discovery!"
10/08/2021
"You must experience this! There is a certain sacredness to the entire production. It has kissed me awake, as it were; I have completely awoken from my corona slumber."
30/07/2020
"In a way, BALSAM is the perfect show to remind us what theatre is all about: seeing and hearing, but also feeling. It’s about being there. How we have hungered for this over the last few weeks! For this nutritious togetherness, for this shared sensuousness. For this poetry."
28/07/2020
"... a compelling and breathtaking experience ..."
07/07/2020
"Laika and Zefiro Torna tantalize the senses. A godsend for those looking for a breath of fresh air after months of virtual culture."
04/07/2020
"BALSAM indulges the ears, eyes and taste buds in the most genial way, inviting you to open yourself up to life and experience the world with sensitivity and sensibility."
04/07/2020
"... a phenomenal show on all levels..."
03/07/2020
"There is something melancholy about the show, but it is also full of hope. The opening show of this extraordinary Zomer van Antwerpen could not have been more symbolic."
Poster