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Théâtre National Wallonie-Bruxelles

Justine Lequette

Forme et fond d’un même mouvement.

Born in Cambrai in Northern France, Justine Lequette studied theatre under Antoine Lemaire and Franck Renaud at the school run by their company THEC, Théâtre en Cambrésis.

She was soon spotted in various semi-professional landmark productions in the company’s history: Dom Juan (Avignon 2007) or Vivre sans but transcendant est devenu possible (2008-2015), demanding, innovative shows which were nonetheless motivated by a commitment to audience accessibility.

After graduating with a law degree from the Université Droit et Santé in Lille, she completed her training as an actress at the Conservatoire Royal in Liège. She was particularly influenced there by the complementary aesthetics of Françoise Bloch, Jos Verbist and Raven Ruëll, all of whom taught her that actors could speak their own words and create their own texts.

While studying acting techniques and character construction, she learned about the presence of the actor, his or her Being-in-the-World.

However, in this conservatory with a long tradition of political engagement (Parfondry, Delcuvellerie, Wanson, etc.) she also learned to think about what she wanted to say and how to say it: choosing the theatre to say what? Choosing the theatre to do what? As a young woman and using that as a vehicle…

She became aware that theatre, like any other art, must continually be re-questioned, form and content included, and both of them together, at the same time.

Although fascinated by documentary films of social enquiry—her project draws on Chronique d’un été, the film made in 1961 by Jean Rouch and Edgar Morin—she refuses to adopt a realist or naturalist style of theatre, and wishes to move closer to the notion of documentary fiction or docufiction.

Imitation, she says, allows us to enter someone else’s mind, it’s a way in, not an end in itself.

From Françoise Bloch, she took the principal of a simple, moving set: three or four sliding units on castors are enough to suggest all the spaces. Rejecting the theory of a fourth wall, she wants both actors and spectators to know they are in the theatre: small inconsistencies, humour, and a playful distancing effect are there to remind them of this.

But what is particularly important to her, and her training stands her in good stead for this, is “chorality”, collective engagement, the troupe’s commitment. Even more than in stage writing, although this is how she works, she believes wholeheartedly in the inventive abilities of the actor/creator, particularly if he or she is backed by the solidarity of an entire group.


Yannic Mancel

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