Jan Lauwers wins lifetime achievement award at Venice Biennial


The co-founder of Brussels-based theatre group Needcompany, Jan Lauwers, was presented with a Golden Lion at the Venice Bienniale on Saturday

First Belgian to win award

Theatre director and playwright Jan Lauwers, who this week turns 57, has been awarded a Golden Lion for lifetime achievement in the theatre arts at the Venice Bienniale. Lauwers is co-founder and director of Brussels-based Needcompany, a multi-diciplinary company working to fuse performance film, music and visual arts.

Lauwers was born in Antwerp and studied painting in Ghent’s fine arts academy, where he set up his first theatre company, the Epigone Ensemble, in 1979. He founded Needcompany with choreographer Grace Ellen Barkey in 1986, in the full flow of the new wave of Flemish theatre.

The company has a reputation for pioneering work, and Lauwers has been the recipient of awards from festivals in Hamburg and New York. In 2006, he received the Flemish Community Culture Prize for playwriting, and in 2012 the gold medal for services to the Republic of Austria. Needcompany is artist in residence at Vienna’s Burgtheater.

Lauwers also continues to work as a visual artist; Bozar exhibited a retrospective of his work in 2007.

Photo by Phile Deprez/Needcompany