wv logo






Carcer Voluntarius - who are we

Willighe Vanckenis “Carcer Voluntarius” means “voluntary prison”. It is the title of one of P.C. Hooft’s Emblemata Amatoria (1611).



Since 2002 theater company Willighe Vanckenis has been inspired by the parrot that does not want to leave its opened cage: a symbol of love. We work on theater projects with trust and care, within boundaries.

The bird is blind nor deaf. Its existence between bars of its own choice stresses its longing for the limitless world behind them. That is all its crooked story tells the audience in the world on the other side of the cage. Our projects value the bars, the world, the parrot and its song.

The song

We prefer playing repertory texts, or we start from literature from the past: the great, ancient theater narratives. We bring forward themes that are relevant for our time, paying attention to the tension between groups and individuals, the eye of the audience, repetition and patterns in people’s lives, reasons why people come together, and engagement.

Though we explicitly choose traditional source texts, in each scenography we give great value to the choreography of the body and the architecture of bodies in space. Further, our “voluntary prison” has got “bars” quite literally, as we re-use the same carefully designed stage props in different productions.

Finally we also focus on the interaction of bodies, as a response to the spirit of the times celebrating virtuality.

The bars

We preferably work on one project for a long time, at least a year, with two gatherings a week. The performers show themselves in their performance, within the outlines director Jerry Olbrechts has set out and rearranges in the course of the creation process. They love tirelessly turning the last stone, searching for what they are doing in the story.

The world

For each project we rethink the spaces in which we rehearse and perform. By consequence we regularly work together with other groups, not necessarily artistic. In the past we have joined forces with schools, minority groups, artists and individuals who have invited us in their homes. Exciting freedom springs from chaining ourselves to a developing story, continuously shifting spaces and boundaries, in search of new logistics. As nomads.

In 2014 the feeling grew that we had to bring our hidden cage more into the big world. These times demand an open theater form, for a diverse audience. Our small, caring world of parrots now tries crossing new boundaries of language, computer screens and identity groups.

The parrots

Willighe Vanckenis is a shifting bunch of friends. It is also an association without lucrative purpose, located in Leuven (Belgium), with board members Peter Ariën, Kim Bastaits, and Jerry Olbrechts.