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Théâtre National Wallonie-Bruxelles

Contradictions, movements, jolts

Elena Doratiotto & Aymeric Trionfo

© Antonio Gomez Garcia

Aymeric Trionfo: It all started with an intuition. Françoise Bloch’s desire to research The Apostate, a short story by Jack London. In a nutshell, it’s the story of a child labourer of 6 or 7 years old. Working in a factory causes his body and his mind to stop. There’s a point where he says stop, there’s a breaking point.

So first of all Françoise held a research workshop around this story with Jules Puibarraud and Marie Devroux. And it turned out that it was really this question of how we get to this breaking point that interested her. Very soon after, when we joined the project, we worked on other sources which also contain the kind of transformation: Kafka’s The Metamorphosis, George Perec’s A Man Asleep, several fictions and also documentaries, interviews, etc.

Elena Doratiotto: Along with Françoise Bloch, we’re interested in these moments of fracture in the course of life, a crash, a burnout, being confined to bed, an illness, these moments when we say stop. At the same time we make the link more broadly to the possibility of a societal breaking point.

There is this intuition that we are always on the verge of a societal transformation that does not happen. This is how we get to the question of how far a human being can endure oppression, how far will he say yes, and how far a society or a community, while feeling and seeing very clear signs of a necessary transformation will hold and will last. And everything is tied up together, between the small, the personal journeys, the fractures of life, the changes, and the big, how a society sustains, endures, how and for how long.

So we’re interested in the moments when it cracks, but also in those moments before, which we call jolts. Because these breaking points don't happen just like a click of the fingers, there's often a whole journey leading up to it, something going on, lying dormant. Despite an impression of immobility, things are already moving under the radar.

And after? What happens when there has been this emptiness, this putting everything into the garage? What is it that one dreams of?

Aymeric Trionfo: We gave names to these phases: pre-bug, bug (the breaking point) and construction. This third phase includes what we dream about, what we imagine for the future. And, based on the research workshops we do, we focus on one or the other of these phases.

Elena Doratiotto: There is no pre-existing dramaturgy, it’s woven over the course of the work but it’s clear that it’s not going to be a linear show with an oppression, a breaking point, a construction. It's not going to be that obvious because neither human journeys nor social journeys are so. There will be contradictions, movements, jolts, back and forth.

There are multiple paths and we approach it from different angles. This also results in different theatricalities, ones which we in turn have fun questioning. And in these different theatricalities we may find surprises, different languages, ruptures in the very theatre which is proposed ...

It’s moving, it’s shifting. Yes, there will be breaking points within the show itself.

Aymeric Trionfo: The shapes are not necessarily the same from start to finish, but the backbone of the project, finally, one of the two central axes is: How to dare to speak out? How to dare to say Stop! No! or just something you think that can go against the grain.

Elena Doratiotto: Something that won’t be well recieved.

Aymeric Trionfo: Françoise Bloch said - and we find it very accurate - that this daring is on the decline. The audacity of refusing, to say "stop, now that's enough."


— Interview by Benoît Henken on January 27, 2020

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