Dieudonné Niangouna’s totemic fevers

The leading figure of Congolese drama scene meets the late Sony Labou Tansi, a monument of literature in the two Congos. Pain and hope. Rebellion and torture. It’s sharp, it’s hot, sometimes inaudible.

Erected in the centre of the set around/on which the audience takes place, a fetishist construction made of everything and anything stands for a mausoleum, dressing room, make-up room and decor. The sacred made desacralised.

One of Dieudonné Niangouna's preparatory sketches
One of Dieudonné Niangouna’s preparatory sketches

This hunt for verticality on wheels (which seems very close to the one seen the same week with the Blitz Theatre Group) is that of a self, which can barely sit together and doesn’t know what it’s made of anymore. Its only hope lays in Antoine, a fallen prince locked up in a cell following a failed coup d’état. A plastic dummy in a pale skin is all that’s left of him.

Diariétou Keita in Antoine m'a vendu son destin/Sony chez les chiens by Dieudonné Niangouna
Diariétou Keita in Antoine m’a vendu son destin/Sony chez les chiens by Dieudonné Niangouna

As always with Dieudonné Niangouna, one reads, sings and dances. Diariétou Keita the totemic woman, the castrating mother, dog, icon, plays all the roles cunningly and powerfully. Her dance, rather than an invitation to leap up, is more of a call for introspection.

Antoine m’a vendu son destin/ Sony chez les chiens
Words Dieudonné Niangouna and Sony Labou Tansi
With Dieudonné Niangouna and Diariétou Keita
In Théâtre National de la Colline until March 18th 2017

Saburo Teshigawara's birds of silence

Hear that? A wind of arid and dry beauty is blowing over Chaillot. After Mirror and Music et DAH-DAH-SKO-DAH-DAH, Saburo Teshigawara is back to the Palais with an in situ creation: Flexible Silence. The japanese choreographer and six dancers sofly approach the dissonant repertory of the Ensemble Intercontemporain founded by Pierre Boulez.

Saburo Teshigawara, Flexible Silence, Chaillot
Saburo Teshigawara, Flexible Silence, Chaillot

It’s a piece where beauty emerges from multiple sources. A ray of light, a shadow, a halo, the electrified fluttering of slender fingertips. Exceptional solos and duets shape up an extraordinary variety of birds and aquatic plants. The movement of bodies creates a bubble of soft energy, like an anamorphosis makes confluences appear. Here it feels like stepping into Murakami’s captivating world. There one can almost see Michael Jackson’s shirt floating freely–recalling the compelling piece Glass Tooth.

Costumes are black, set is austere yet it’s warm. As usual, Saburo Teshigawara does everything from choreography to (a sublime) light design. Pure moments of gracefulness are in there for those who wait in silence.

Illustration © Araso

BiT-Maguy Marin

BiT by Maguy Marin: a farandole for humanity

The piece is well known. Yet each time it’s a shock. The surging of naked bodies, the orgies, the rapes, the deviant monks with the scary masks, the anonymous violence and this sublime pre-Raphaelite picture throwing up genitals and golden coins had nearly been forgotten.

Maguy Marin, throughout her unclassifiable work, has committed to stir in the depths of humanity in order to extract its essence, which daily life throws into oblivion. It’s beautiful, it’s ugly, and it’s often disturbing.

BiT, Maguy Marin, illustration © Araso
BiT, Maguy Marin, illustration © Araso

BiT is a techno dance procession starting with a group of Mormons. Six dancers gather into a farandole, which grows intoxicating as the beat goes up (genius sound design by Charlie Aubry). Faces gloat, bodies reveal themselves and discordances start « against the audience’s pleasure »*.

The anachronic trance jumps to the Middle-Age with spinning distaffs. Religion, SM harnesses and dough transfigure the bodies. They collide, chase each other, and then find each other again only to leap into the void. In BiT, hope and hopelessness are one, and lay inside the other(s).

*Interview of Maguy Marin by Bénédicte Namont and Stéphane Boitel, Garonne theatre – Toulouse August 2014.

BiT is a 2014 creation by Maguy Marin, presented by a non-residential Théâtre de la Ville at the Rond-Point theatre until February 11th 2017

Marionnette: A new Label for puppeteering, Audrey Azoulay, illustration © Araso

French Culture Minister Audrey Azoulay announces new "Label" for puppeteering

The French Minister of Culture Audrey Azoulay has visited the ESNAM construction site in Charleville-Mézières on Friday Februray 3rd. On this occasion, she has made a highly anticipated announcement that a “label” for puppeteering will soon be created, which shall be granted upon the school and many other institutions connected to puppeteering but currently under a more non-specific “label” (one “CDN”, one “scène nationale”, nine “scènes conventionnées” already exist under the understanding that they are meant for puppeteering).

This advances the normalization of relations between public authorities and puppeteers, and shows recognition of the importance of their the craft, a logical consequence of the inscription of the Diploma of Puppeteering Crafts in the National Registry of Professional Certifications (RNCP). This shows support from the State to the further development of that form of theatrical performance.

Audrey Azoulay, illustration © Araso
Audrey Azoulay, illustration © Araso

Why is beauty a vital necessity?

To adapt Wajdi Mouawad for marionettes: here we stand sceptical. Assoiffés (literally «Thirsty») was created in 2007 at the Théâtre Le Clou in Montréal, which caters mostly for a young audience. It’s bold, risky and the result can be anything.

We sit across the stage from Brice Coupey, a pregnant Fanny Catel who turns out to embody young Norvège perfectly and Ladislas Rouge. Tagging along with them is a disheveled Murdoch puppet and Boon, the author-narrator who will ultimately round everything off.

Murdoch's puppet, live-sketching by Araso
Murdoch’s puppet, live-sketching by Araso

In this version, Compagnie L’Alinéa’s virtuosity comes to support a dramatically strong piece of writing. Teenage hood is a theme cherished by Wajdi Mouawad which he had addressed throughout his work. This time is a fragile transition that «the devastating effects of a world deprived of beauty » are threatening the most, when an unquenched «thirst for love, for trust, for meaning» leads to suicide, whether intellectual or physical.

Just like in Inflammation du Verbe Vivre, writing is depicted as a vital necessity. To bring the word of the Dead to the Living, and also because «beauty when left un-nurtured hardens and becomes ugly». Norvège brilliantly illustrates it by starting as a piece of card, becoming a corpse and turning into flesh again. Unmissable.

Brice Coupey manipulating Murdoch's puppet, live-sketching by Araso
Brice Coupey manipulating Murdoch’s puppet, live-sketching by Araso

Illustrations © Araso

Performance seen at the Mouffetard – the theatre for the Art of Marionnette between January 17th and 28th 2017, alongside an exhibition by Brice Coupey of the artworks testifying of the play’s genesis.

Assoiffés will be shown again in the theatre Berthelot of Montreuil on February 1st and 2nd 2017.

Aglae : woman, mummy, whore

Coming in like a cat, she dodges the stools on which her guests are seating. «I asked myself: what shall I wear? » she’s dressed in a black babydoll and nylon stockings. Claude Degliame alias Aglae has been working with Jean-Michel Ribes since 1974 and in 2017 has the body of a goddess.

Aglae is a non-fictional character. Director Jean-Michel Rabeux met her in Marseille when she was 70 ans. On stage he gives her the urchin-like voice of his favourite actress – and we thank him for this.

Claude Degliame is Aglae "happy whore, unhappy mother"
Claude Degliame is Aglae “happy whore, unhappy mother”

What’s it like to be a whore? What’s it like to be a whore and a woman? What’s it like to be a whore and a mother? « I wasn’t excited; I was curious » from the first hand jobs given to her brother when she was 10 to her« luxury hooker » days, Aglae works through her own lifetime.

Claude Degliame tackles with elegance, bravery and no fake innocence the misconceptions and judgements around prostitution. « A whore is not a bitch, fuck! ». Should prostitution be legalized? Yes, for God’s sake! To protect the girls and because they are «sex’s nurses».

« Do I ask that one from the government how she fucks? No! So leave me alone with the Law».

L’amour, y’en a plein de sortes / Aglaé par WebTV_du_Rond-Point

Aglae, with Claude Degliame. By Jean-Michel Rabeux with the words of Aglae
At the Rond-Point theatre, January 4th to 29th 2017
On tour at the Bateau Feu – Dunkerque, France, on May 4th and May 5th 2017
Illustration © Araso