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SPECTACLES

The Past (Le Passé)

"Plays never originate from an idea. Instead, they result from a perfect blend between life, theatre, things we want to achieve and others we don't. As we were rehearsing the previous show, Players, Mao II, the Names by Don DeLillo, I imagined staging a classic like The Seagull, wrecking the performance and destroying the characters right after Treplev's show. Either by armed terrorists or by the progressive disappearing of people in costume on stage. First, I thought this was once again the consequence of my anger against the world of theatre, tradition and the assumed expectations of the audience, something they already know, that is the repertoire.

 

A few months later, I called translator André Markowicz on the phone. I told him that for the first time I was looking for an old text and told him the story of an early 20th century society dying out. I told him I was thinking about Gorky's Children of the sun. But Gorky is not really my cup of tea, it is too tough and physical for me. I didn't wish to tell anger, I wanted to tell the story of a goodbye instead. These people should not be killed by the guns of revolution. They would slowly die out in the chain of events.

 

I thought of Houellebecq writing at the end of The Map and the Territory: "The triumph of nature is total." I also thought of directors who stage classical texts. I thought of what people are accustomed to saying: "Playwrights are talking to us." "Shakespeare is more modern than any other dramatists". Then I looked back on my work until today. Those contemporary texts I worked on, as if they were lost forgotten worlds, as if contemplated from the future, at a time when our societies are dead and so is the world. Today I think that the reason why we adapt classical texts is their distance from us, not their permanent quality.

 

We want to see again people who no longer exist, people who departed. We want to hear languages that were changed through time, we want to understand who we were and see the dead live again. This is precisely what I tried to explain to André Markowicz. I told him I wished to produce a show that would simultaneously speak about the coming extinction of humanity and the disappearance of classical theatre. An acerbic and sincere goodbye to humanity and conventionalism.

 

He asked me: "Do you know Leonid Andreev?". I didn't at all. Reading his work was a total shock. It was the first time I had felt so humanely close to a long-de- parted author. Andreev is very different from his contemporary authors. He wrote plays, short stories, symbolic works. When reading Andreev's work, words that can transfix you are found in all of his scenes, dialogues, sentences. As if we were able with a few words to touch the crucial heart of pain and beauty of the world. I will work on several plays - The Thought, Storitsyne, To the Stars, Ekaterina Ivanovna, Requiem, In the Fog, Resurrection of the dead and a few short stories too. The process will be similar to my previous shows.

 

I will work with video, music and a troupe composed with the same actors I've always been working with, some new ones too.

 

The play will explore new ideas as I will work with paintings, chassis, candle footlights, ancient costumes that will coexist with the camera, glazed spaces and today's images. There will be painted landscapes, salons bourgeois, winter gardens and musicians in the orchestra pit.

 

In Solaris, Tarkovski's shadow will hang over the show. Shots from his spaceship will follow pictures from one of Brueghel's paintings depicting a crowd of pea- sants. Through Andreyev's writing, my new show will draw a similar circle. One saying that the future is the past. It will be a tribute to extinct art and humanity, to obscure times viewed from space when men used to walk in the snow as a group."

 

 

Julien GOSSELIN, Mai 2020

 

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TEXT

Léonid Andreev

 

TRADUCTION

André Markowicz

 

ADAPTATION AND STAGE DIRECTING

Julien Gosselin

 

WITH

in progress

 

PRODUCTION

Si vous pouviez lécher mon cœur

 

COPRODUCTION (IN PROGRESS)

Odéon- Théâtre de l'Europe, Festival d'Automne à Paris, Théâtre National de Strasbourg, Le Phénix Scène Nationale Valenciennes pôle européen de création, Maison de la culture d'Amiens.

 

WITH THE SUPPORT OF

Montévidéo, centre d'art