Mame Yamada in Avidya – The Dark Inn, Maison de la Culture du Japon à Paris, Festival d'Automne September 2016, Illustration by Araso

Avidya - the Dark Inn, japanese theater hung between laughter and nostalgia

Avidya, in Buddhism, is misconception, one of the links in the chain that captures humans in the endless cycle of suffering and rebirth.

It is also the name of the Dark Inn staged by Kurô Tanino, which is like a world fading away, a gateway between two realities. One is that of modern life, symbolized by the Shinkansen, which is programmed to tear this piece of Japanese countryside in two ; the other is that of traditional Japan, to which the inhabitants of the secluded inn belong, who come there to enjoy the hot springs.

The arrival of a strange couple, the father, a dwarfish puppeteer, and the son, almost mute, sets in motion a series of scenes which unfold in the four rooms of the inn, presented on a rotating stage.

A disturbing, farcical, cruel play, that has the public hanging between laughter and nostalgia. One is sometimes confused by the narrative, grapples for the codes, admires the seemingly endless series of moving tableaux, and takes home a fleeting, disturbing feeling. It is a wonderful play, both subtle and generous.

Illustration © Araso

Avidya – Ignorance Inn

From 14th to 17th of September, at the Maison de la Culture du Japon à Paris for the Paris Autumn Festival

Written and directed by Kurô Tanino
Niwa Gekidan Penino Company

Noémie Gantier is Liz Norton in 2666, by Julien Gosselin at Odeon in Paris

Our take from 2666, the 12-hour play by Julien Gosselin

An obscure writer disappears somewhere in Mexico where women are savagely assassinated: this is 2666, a novel by Bolaño that Julien Gosselin (Les Particules Elémentaires, 2013) has turned into a 12h-long theatre play.

It is true that M. Gosselin isn’t the only one to have a penchant for interminable plays (Lidell, Jolly, Fabre, Warlikowski, Lupa). But why make us go through 5 hours of excruciating boredom for 3 hours’ worth watching and a few sparks of genius?

At just 29 years old, Mr Gosselin is a master of the art of story-telling. The kind that makes you cling to your seat and forget about everything else. The scene with the critics and the Pakistani taxi driver as narrated by Liz is unforgettable.

Video, one of the hottest trends on stage for years (van Hove, Castorf, re-Warlikowski, Cassiers) benefits from unprecedented grace, is used cinematographically with a high contrast and sublime granularity. It embodies madness and makes mutilated bodies emerged from a set when they were already there -genius work by Nicolas Joubert.

The tailor-made sound creation by Rémi Alexandre and Guillaume Bachelé is staggering.

The scenography by Hubert Colas re-uses the concept of moving boxes in a way which isn’t new, yet totally unique.

Illustration © Araso

Until Octobre 16th at the Berthier Ateliers, Odéon Theatre, Paris 17th
Text by Roberto Bolaño adaptation and stage direction by Julien Gosselin / Company Si vous pouviez lécher mon cœur
with Rémi Alexandre, Guillaume Bachelé, Adama Diop, Joseph Drouet, Denis Eyriey, Antoine Ferron, Noémie Gantier, Carine Goron, Alexandre Lecroc-Lecerf, Frédéric Leidgens, Caroline Mounier, Victoria Quesnel, Tiphaine Raffier

Book your tickets here.

Pina Bausch, Viktor, Théâtre du Châtelet, Paris, Septembre 2016

Viktor at the Châtelet Theater in Paris: Why Pina Bausch is eternal

Wupperthal has worshipped Pina Bausch for the past ten years. The original dancers pass on a legacy to the newcomers without the company creating any single piece. And yet season after season crowds continue to flock.

And here comes Viktor. A vault-set to slowly bury the performers alive. This ground so dear to Pina, a perpetual building site. Julie Shanahan always sublime hypnotises as a woman with no arms and a hysterical Cristiana Morganti offers a surprisingly dark exit. Dominique Mercy takes up the part of Viktor again and the new generation is sparklingly led by Breanna O’Mara, unsettling as a widow screaming under the ruins, so bewitching in her crawling dance she eclipses the rest of the cast.

At Viktor’s, weddings are funerals, women are fountains, couples and beggars form a ballet in a happy Roman Bohemia, swirling to unlikely music.

Maybe this is the recipe for success: this sum of strong interpretations, of exaggerated details compiled in living pictures. One goes to a show by Pina Bausch like one goes to an exhibition where anything can happen anytime. No wonder some just don’t get tired of it.

Illustration © Araso

Viktor, 1986, a piece by Pina Bausch

Théâtre de la Ville, location at Théâtre du Châtelet, from September 3rd to 12th 2016


Marie Chouinard in Avignon: beauty at war

On the ruins of a world at war, Marie Chouinard reinvents the codes of beauty.

Canadian choreographer who’s just been appointed director of the Dance section at the Biennale in Venice, is in Avignon for the first time with Soft Virtuosity, Still Humid, On the Edge.

She is thus pursuing her work on the dameged body and its singularities, where one often finds crutches and splints. This time, she turns it into a war painting.

In an atmosphere of terror, lumping angular bodies run in parallel lines. They dance to the music of rifles and explosions. The wistling of a bomb is terrifying, calls for adrenalin and blood pulses harder through the veins.

Seated cross-legged and face-to-face on a spinning disc, two girls hug whilst pulling monster faces. A brilliant use of video emphasizes the march of an army of zombies and dresses the walls in surreal perspectives.

Amongst the hallucinating images are a Raft of the Medusa and those bodies in mouvement mimicking a crackling fire.

Illustration © Araso

The Bloody Doll at Huchette Theatre

A musical, for a change.

Even though one goes to the theatre every night and has been a columnist for years, it’s always worth taking a risk. This is when the Cultural Animal comes to play.

So here I am inside the Huchette Theatre (those who’ve been following me for a while will understand), determined to check out this Bloody DollIt’s a musical adapted from Gaston Leroux’s 1923 novel, The Bloody Doll, released more than a decade after his uber-famous 1910 Phantom of the Opera.

The challenge isn’t small. A micro-set, 3 actors, 1 piano player to bring no less than 15 characters and an entire ambiance to life. Wow.

And it’s divine. The actors are on top of their game -drama and singing. It’s incredibly creative, curated, hilarious and not scary at all. Costumes are perfect. Didier Bailly is at home. He’s been acting in Ionesco’s Bold Soprano at La Huchette since 1985. As for Eric Chantelauze who co-signs the show, he’s written more than a few musicals. Et voilà.

This is probably THE musical of the year. If you understand French or are willing to put up with 1 hour 25 minutes of French and uncomfortable seats, it’s worth the while.

Illustration © Araso

The Bloody Doll, the musical,
Théâtre de la Huchette
75005 PARIS
M. Saint-Michel
Tel: +331 43 26 38 99

Backstage at Opera Garnier

The day I made peace with academic dance thanks to William Forsythe

I am not a fan of classical ballet. I had not been to the Opera since Maguy Marin in April. At the beginning of the season I had nonetheless interviewed Dorothée Gilbert, an absolute darling. I finally went to see the William Forsythe everyone is talking about.

Of Any If And puts me to sleep. Snobbish, narrow unfruitful words appear back-to-back on moveable borads: « Body of texture rare all in nothing ». Even with Léonore Baulac and Adrien Couvez it’s deadly.

Approximate Sonata swipes me off my feet. Bombastic Alice Renavand turns up in a black leotard justaucorps teasing Adrien Couvez. Marie-Agnès Gillot comes up dancing like a goddess with her long limbs.

It is with Blake Works I, a creation by William Forsythe on James Blake’s music that the shock happens. Beauty alert, chills. It’s sensual, sexy as hell, with voguing and hip-hop-like freestyle. And (astonishingly) the dancers are having fun !

Those last 25 minutes have changed my view on academic ballet forever. Would it be only for this it’d still be worth the while.


William Forsythe, ballet, 2h
At Opéra Garnier Until July 16th
Available seats online start at 25 euros on the day

Images © Reserved