Power of citation of the image of Gwendoline Robin’s season in the process of reactivating the performances of her repertoire in the set workshops of the Théâtre National Wallonie-Bruxelles. Because on closer inspection, this sudden visibility of the body in the burning space brings us into the story.
Covid-19 is repolarizing our collective life. Millions of invisible, diminished voices take shape in the world. They resonate like the echoes of a past that resurfaces chronically and in a relatively new way in hashtagged, contiguous forms: the #MeToo, #MeTooIncest, Black Lives Matter, feminist or transfeminist movements. We must recognise its power to disturb, its meaning. This is precisely where our ethics of responsibility comes into play, and the possibility for us to be humanists, showing solidarity with artists and audiences, in Brussels, Wallonia, and elsewhere.
Which forces us to ask ourselves in return: what imagery defines the theatre to come? What bodies let us out of binary oppositions? How can we stimulate the place of live performance in the face of “all digital”? Can we still live in a place that would only be a theatre?
The Théâtre National is “above all a place where we see and hear bodies1”. It tells of “the bodies that count” in their multitude. The season presents itself as a vast gradient of artistic practices, punctuated by strong, popular and festive moments where experimentation plays its part: Jours de fête, Urban Dance Caravan, Scènes nouvelles, MAD - les Mots à défendre or À la scène comme à la ville. Creation is intertwined with agility in theatre, cinema, performance art, circus, technology, literature, slam or dance, in a wide variety of collaborations in presence, other spaces and contexts. It invents eco-responsible movements which, both rooted and not in a specific territory, transgress the borders of symbolic belonging.
If all the ways of representing are alternatives, if one way of representing isn’t more legitimate than any other, isn’t it time to survey other sensitive territories of the imagination and of representation? Where voices from various disciplines mingle. All you have to do is trust the eight associate artists of the Wallonia-Brussels Federation over the next five years to create spaces of empowerment and living hospitality. At the theatre, there is Anne-Cécile Vandalem, Le Raoul Collectif, Gaia Saitta and Clément Papachristou. For dance, there are Ayelen Parolin and Hendrickx Ntela. In literature and slam, there are Caroline Lamarche and Joëlle Sambi Nzeba. Without forgetting the accomplice artist Mohammed El Khatib.
A laughing, serious hybrid, the 2022·2023 season is notable for the predominance of women on the offensive such as Martine Wijckaert, Angelica Liddell, Yana Ross or Emilienne Flagothier. Some artists re-examine the great classics in sophisticated scenic devices such as Aurore Fattier, Cyril Teste or Phia Menard. Others, such as Éline Schumacher, Tatiana Frolova, Steven Cohen or Léa Drouet, dwell on the great moments of existence. There is also an operating shock with Hakim Bouacha, Christiane Jatahy or Marie-Aurore d’Awans. Against the gloom, many make us laugh to make us think about the many ways to discover ourselves, in the manner of Léonard Berthet-Rivière & Muriel Legrand, Gaël Santisteva, Simon Thomas. With dance, the tone of the theatre also changes. We reconnect with the pleasure of great contemporary ballet, from Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker with a creation at the Ballet national de Marseille.
Bodies sculpt the light.
1 Christian Biet, Professeur d’Histoire et esthétique du théâtre à l’Université de Paris – Nanterre, membre de l’Institut Universitaire de France (1952-2020)