The Last Night of the World
Everything is still sleeping, and soon never again.
Imagine a world without night. A world where mankind, aided by science, puts an end to its physiological need for sleep. A pill would allow a person to sleep for only 45 minutes without the effect of fatigue. In the “era of the fragmented night” – where everyone chooses when they want to sleep – the stars no longer cradle any dreams, or any silence. Active, furious, relentless life runs through the veins of a joyful and all-powerful humanity. A fantasy for some, a nightmare for others, La Dernière nuit du monde tackles a theme which is scarely taboo. A 24-hour planet under the fallacious pretext that day is overflowing and that it is therefore time for humans to inhabit time differently.
In this new work with accents of anticipation, Laurent Gaudé and Fabrice Murgia find fertile ground for collaboration. The opera Daral Shaga brought them together in 2014 alongside Cie Feria Musica. The two had planned to work together again one day. Jonathan Crary’s 24/7, Le Capitalisme à l’assaut du sommeil gave them that opportunity.
There is no light that needs no shade.
To evoke this terrible fate of a world without rest, Laurent Gaudé imagines a young couple: Gabor (Fabrice Murgia) and Lou (Nancy Nkusi). He throws himself body and soul into the realisation of this sinister pill. She tries to reason with him, to sensitise him – but in vain. The last night comes, for humanity but also for the couple. Lou disappears. An investigation gets underway that is ultimately troubled by lack of sleep and the interests of unbridled capitalism.
Interview with Fabrice Murgia
What was the starting point for this project?
I worked with Laurent Gaudé in 2014 at the Limoges Opéra. The production we did together was an opera called Daral Shaga. Laurent wrote the libretto. I took care of the staging in collaboration with Cie Feria Musica. It was a true meeting of minds, as we very soon complemented each other in our narratives. We promised to repeat the experience, to re-explore a form that would not strictly speaking be situationist theatre, but something that juxtaposed two types of writing: a romantic and literary style, penned by Laurent, and mine, a way of writing with images for the stage.
It’s been six years since Daral Shaga. We stayed in touch. Then one day, as we were tossing themes back and forth, sharing reading matter, this question cropped up from an essay by Jonathan Crary: “24/7: Late Capitalism and the Ends of Sleep”: can human beings live life 24 hours a day and 7 days a week? Is it healthy, right or desirable to stay awake and keep constantly active to the detriment of night? Suddenly we had an interesting selection of themes allowing us to dream up several stories in several places in the world. Because this was about something all of us have above our heads: the stars, the sky, the night. We were faced with a universal catch-all that lent itself to the construction of narratives, coupled with a highly political theme.
Can we take another look at the work that informed your thinking: 24/7 by Jonathan Crary?
Jonathan Crary’s essay explores the many ways in which people endeavour to put an end to night. Night qua night, in other words the absence of light, of the sun. But also, night which brings sleep, a vital function.
All research that aims to put an end to night is directed at a form of consumption, exploitation, and continuous production. Karl Marx had predicted that capitalism would put an end to all natural cycles. Nowadays, everything has a market value: love, friendship, food, hunger, thirst… Night is one of the human race’s last bastions of resistance. It indicates that human beings have not yet turned into machines. That they need to sleep. For some, this is extremely irritating, even taboo.
Our capitalist world is reaching its limits. We have gradually moved away from our primary ways of life, in which night plays a role. Beyond its poetic value, night represents a right to introspection. And this right is adversely affected by a factor that often passes unawares: the sheer scale and continual presence of artificial light. It blocks out the stars and prevents us from gazing at the night sky.
The need to protect night is a new demand. It is championed by many nations: The First Nation peoples of New Zealand, for example. Their successful negotiations have caused lights to be switched off for a certain number of hours per month. Because in their culture, not being able to see the stars creates problems. Darkness is therefore elevated to a political issue.
The format of the show will be very moveable. Is it important to tackle subject matter like this by ensuring that it reaches the widest possible audience?
In view of the themes, there is first of all the desire to perform it in the open air. We’re therefore preparing two versions, one for inside the auditorium, the other for beneath the stars… We want to create something fairly simple and therefore moveable, which won’t stop it from being complex in its use of stage grammar. The idea is to make it universal in form so that it can travel. After huge projects like Sylvia and The memory of Trees, it’s good to get back to a small format, included in the repertory and available for an intimate capacity setting, which will allow us to increase the number of venues.
- By Sophie Dupavé
The complete interview is available in the artistic folder.
Worldpremiere the 7th of July 2021
The performance is available in 2021-2022
Contact details Artara:
Cie Artara / Fabrice Murgia
Company Manager - Jenifer Rodriguez
Contact details Touring:
Frans Brood Productions
Direction & performance
or Nadine Baboy
Acting direction, Outside view
Video design & camera
Video design assistant & Video Editing
General manager & stage manager
Per Henrik Bals
François De Brigode
Mieke De Grote
Josse De Pauw
Création Studio Théâtre National Wallonie-Bruxelles
Frans Brood Productions « La Dernière nuit du monde » de Laurent Gaudé est publié aux éditions Actes Sud Papiers.
Théâtre National Wallonie-Bruxelles, le Théâtre de Namur, Mars - Mons arts de la scène, le Théâtre de Liège, Central-La Louvière, Théâtres en Dracénie-Draguignan, Théâtre L’Aire Libre-Rennes, la Scène nationale d’Albi, le CDN de Madrid, le Riksteatern-The National Touring Theatre of Sweden.
With the support of
Shelterprod, taxshelter.be, ING et du tax-shelter du gouvernement fédéral belge.