In terms of form, it is also a musical theatre production, just like the two previous pieces. Can we assume that the text and music are genuinely written together?
Fabrice Murgia: Yes, the music and the text form a whole and were created together from the beginning. We address diverse themes at the same time, each in the relevant language. This kind of collaboration is complex because the time lapse differs. For example, musical theatre is not created in the same way as an opera. In an opera you have a libretto and the time is fixed, because there's the music. Here it's about a symbiotic creation, starting with the shared experience of the journey and the encounters. Afterwards we have to superimpose the two layers of our written work, one for the stage and one for the music. We have to agree on a working method, so that we can arrive at a common, symbiotic time lapse for the witnesses on video, the music and the actor's performance on stage.
Dominique Pauwels: And the 'real' time of the theatre is totally different from the 'relative' time of the music.
Will the music also be performed live?
FM: We are still in the project’s start-up phase and anything could still change, but for now our idea is that Dominique will stay on stage, so that we nurture close as possible interaction between the music and the stage. We want to avoid falling into the trap of musical theatre in which you get a sequence of music, followed by theatre, then more music, more theatre and so on. What we want to create are modules that will fit seamlessly together.
On stage we have an actor, Josse De Pauw, who is capable of fully controlling the play. He will present the major ethical questions about nuclear energy on a personal and human level. (Displays an image of an interior filmed in Russia). Dominique and I experienced the same emotion when we entered the home of this man who lives on the banks of the Techa River, a river contaminated by radioactive waste. This man in his little house on the river has his own history that is, beyond his control, linked to the 'major' history, that of the Russian nuclear arms race and the Cold War. That's what we are keen to convey: the coexistence of the human tragedy of an individual and of the major dramas on a global scale. It's about the story of that little man with his desires and grievances as opposed to the serious ambitions and the arrogance of humanity.
Interviewed by Cécile Michel
On May 8, 2019
La Mémoire des arbres / Fabrice Murgia, Dominique Pauwels / interview