David Murgia: spoiling for a fight

At 25 the actor is already not to be missed. His Speech to the Nation was voted the year’s best show.

“We have to choose between freedom and tranquility. We can’t have both,” the youngster says during an interview. Clearly, David Murgia has chosen sides. With his mop of brown hair, he walks a tightrope between two utopias, like a modern Rimbaud onstage. We met the young man in 2009 when, along with Armel Roussel, he threw a little revolutionary bomb in the form of  the piece “Si demain vous déplaît” (If You Don’t Like Tomorrow). It was tailored to him – a rebellious adolescent who wanted to “be done with resignation, with this school of despair, this world that has swallowed up everything, including its own doubt.” A storm was already brewing around this young man, a ball of energy driven by a ferocious desire to rethink the future and imagine a new society. It was significant to now find him in Raoul Collectif ‘s  “Le signal du promeneur”(The Walker’s Signal), an enormous success in Belgium and internationally, following in the steps of the solitary anti-heroes who have escaped from the system in which they felt imprisoned. Ascanio Celestini’s “Discours à la Nation” (Speech to the Nation) in which Murgia is alone on stage, was just named Year’s Best Show by the Prix de la Critique. He gives a haunting performance, dismantling the inner workings of political language, exploring the relationship between dominant and dominated classes, pointing out the failings of our liberal regimes. “The world doesn’t change. Only humanity’s place in the world changes.” He was backed up by one of the grownups of playwriting and directing Ascanio Celestini, whose roots he shares.

David Murgia comes from Italian and Spanish immigrant families. His parents, who came to Belgium during a difficult time, always dreamed of a better life for their children. His father was a builder and his mother a hairdresser, and they dreamed of seeing their children sitting behind a chic computer and not breaking their backs as stonemasons. Their dream did not completely come true because the two brothers, Fabrice and David, chose a very uncertain career path – artist, but they can still be proud because the two Murgia sons are now on familiar terms with their arts’ highest levels. It was almost by accident that David ended up on stage. As a teen he didn’t really know what he wanted to do with his life. One thing was sure: he wanted to “stay on the outside,” not be locked into a job that he would be doing for the next 40 years. At the time the best way to “stay out of the way” was to follow his brother to Esact, the acting school in Liège. He was bitten by the theater bug, and he wanted to “infect people with a desire to live, the possibility of change, a wake-up call, at a time when possibilities have become anesthetized, and the imaginary formatted.” In addition to an explosive collaboration with his brother – “Le chagrin des ogres” (The Ogres’ Grief), which had phenomenal success, he developed landmark relationships, such as with Lars Noren who cast him in In Memory of Anna Politkovskaia. As time went on he began working in film including important ones – Michaël Roskam’s Rundskop and Frédéric Fonteyne’s “Tango Libre” (Free Tango). He also had larger roles in Bernard Bellefroid’s “La régate” (The Regatta) and Amélie Van Elmbt’s “La tête la première” (Headfirst). Offers are raining down on his curly head because he has within him a crazy desire to devour life whole – a need to tell stories and shake the world along the way. He is a wave of energy, of freshness, natural, who makes us want to crawl into his suitcase and sew revolution right alongside him.

CATHERINE MAKEREEL

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