After The Walls (UTOPIA)

Théâtre National

11, 12, 14, 15/05 – 20:15
FR > NL

1h 40min

The theatre of Anne-Cécile Vandalem, whose hallucinatory HABIT(U)ATION was presented at the festival in 2011, exposes contemporary alienation by allowing the strange to creep into the real. Divided into two parts, the lecture UTOPIA and the fictional drama DYSTOPIA, her After The Walls project continues her exploration of the links between individuals and their environment. In UTOPIA, an architect uses a model to present his vision of the future. An architectural dream modelled on modernist utopias as a solution to the social, demographic and environmental challenges of our day. Over the course of a year, spectators are invited to take an active part in developing the project on its dedicated website and then to come and discover what has become of this housing complex and its residents at the Kunstenfestivaldesarts in 2014. By infiltrating reality, Vandalem is constructing a futuristic tale about the creation of monsters. Act I: a fake lecture, a small theatre of ideas that looks like a great utopia.

Concept, text & direction
Anne-Cécile Vandalem

Collaborator dramaturgy
Jean-Bastien Tinant

Direction assistants
Céline Gaudier, Leïla Di Grégorio

Light design
Caspar Langhoff

Sound & music design
Pierre Kissling

Scenography
Ruimtevaarders

Costume design
Laurence Hermant

With
Vincent Lécuyer

Interns
Manon Coppée, David Scarpuzza

Presentation
Kunstenfestivaldesarts, Théâtre National de la Communauté française


Production
Théâtre de Namur

Tour management
Compagnie des Petites Heures (Paris)

Co-production
Kunstenfestivaldesarts, Das Fräulein (Kompanie) (Brussels), Théâtre National de la Communauté française (Brussels), Théâtre de la Place (Liège), Le Volcan (Le Havre), Le printemps des comédiens (Montpellier), Théâtre national de Bordeaux en Aquitaine, Noorderzon Performing Arts Festival (Groningen)

With the support of
Fédération Wallonie-Bruxelles

This project is co-produced by
NXTSTP, with support of the Culture Programme of the European Union

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UTOPIA is the imaginary world of shelter and also the construction of shelter for an imaginary world in its collective dimension. This line is like a wall with the sentry watching both sides at the same time. To be sheltered: isn't this man's basic provision from our two "origins" in history and from the womb? It is the shared place par excellence and also a non-place which above all else threatens us.

After having laid its foundations in an exposition of solitude and opened it up to family, the Trilogie des Parenthèses continues its exploration by opening up a perspective which, by definition, concerns us. The collective relationship lies at the heart of this journey which promises a wonderful future, and in After The Walls(DYSTOPIA) has already invited us next year to share this joint experience in the utopia taking shape and the radical negation it comprises - this place of nowhere. In between these two moments in the theatre space, a shared fiction develops itself that everyone can access after having seen the performance.

Delving into 20th century archives, there are wonderful ideas for the future which subtly blend the instruction of order and the promise of freedom. And while the orders were well executed, like the duty to live on this side and go to work on that side, freedom was the promise of a delightful moment and a designated place where you could finally do something "for yourself", have time "to yourself" and perhaps indulge yourself worry free in the dream of "your life". The collective dream therefore gave birth to a dream of intimacy.

The subject of our lecture-theatre is the effective construction of a shared place where everyone can dream as they wish. At the centre of it is a man with a gift for words whose words are going to take us with him, into that dream - of the shared place and his imagination. His logic is implacable. He is alone and he moves before us. He has a plan and we are invited to take part because he needs us too. He needs our solicitude and involvement. He also needs our imagination. He needs our deepest dream to be expressed in us which is the condition of all the others. And the good news is that he has a way of revealing it to us, both in words and actions. He has long understood that with regard to dream and reality, the wall is coming down everywhere. For a long time, forever, the wall is hollowed out, cracked apart and open in different places through which properties and people are exchanged. And the capacity to dream would be directly proportional to the wall's porosity. How porous does it have to be before it is not a wall before us? And after all, what is a wall other than a device that poses the visible and the invisible at the same time, the hard facts and their unfathomable mysteries full of cock-and-bull stories and the weird and the wonderful...?

Trilogie des Parenthèses has emerged at the heart of these themes and constructed a tragic pact around it through theatre.

(Self) Service pieced together the fourth wall of naturalist theatre to make a translucent wall. The drama was determined in advance by a recorded soundtrack, a complete turnaround took place and revealed a solitary and tormented mind which could not help but take the world home. (Self) Service was the first part of the trilogy. The formal research creates a narrative device in which places and people exchange their respective principles. The soul is a shelter made with places.

HABIT(U)ATION posed the question of imminent danger within a humdrum world, with its routine expressed by the family and its place. Herefamily and house, cycles of day and night, birth and death, work and rest come together. So when the child decides to go against this routine, the whole place is transformed to reveal a strange ballet in which things, objects and souls now share the same stage and exchange their respective qualities. From the completely closed world of solitude, the stage opened up to an elsewhere in a sort of induced daydream. The agony was the moment when everything could be replayed just once. And while the pessimist version only saw a simple kill, another version was shown to us of living virtualities finally joined together in an eternal moment. The stage design was completely transformed within the structure.

For this third part, After The Walls, which itself consists of two parts in the dream and its realisation, the project and its completion, the two sides of the wall, the whole of society is now, and potentially, involved.

The proscenium arch overflows. The fourth wall disappears and the text takes on a new importance - the whole theatrical device opens its doors to exchange directly with the audience in a desire for transparency. The end of the show marks the beginning of the rest of the story. In the meantime, a website is being set up that takes us along from one moment to the next. The action in the theatrical space evolves into the virtual space, where anyone with the right hardware can access it.

In this adventure, double meanings abound. The figure itself which is going to inhabit the stage and will accompany us on this voyage through time and space, will give us the keys to the next story. But it is going to position the scenery for a future play with our involvement. It is also the representation of a well-known figure, of the carrier of truth, of the visionary who already knows what we do not yet know and who knows better than us what we want. A wall between the mind and the world is therefore constructed which allows this little detour giving legitimacy to the power of doing. Great men write this history while the multitudes are subjected to it.

One of the narrative tricks that modernity has bequeathed us, with this character of the guide who moves from guru to advertising executive by way of artist and expert in the fabric shop, is the tabula rasa. Alongside the certain benefits through which it is presented, progress has most often been imposed in a sort of state of emergency whose sacrifices and destructions could be given in an endless litany. For example the war was a powerful way of modernising the European continent. And through this history and its ghosts, alongside the triumphant tale at the peak of which some still probe the future, an indissociable pile of ruins is formed from beneath which we attempt to invent the present. Our figure is placed at the heart of this stage like the driver of history.

He has all its tricks of the trade, all its failings and all its qualities. It is as if, in a gesture he suggests is shared, he undertook the last revolution of this mind which takes us one step closer to final liberation, in the constitution of a new time-space.

"Only the hand that erases can write the true thing" is the phrase that the character has undertaken to erase, starting with the end so that we can finally, together, write the true thing.

Only the hand that erases...

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Anne-Cécile Vandalem (b. 1979) began as an actress, working with directors and theatre collectives such as Charlie Degotte, Dominique Roodthooft, and Transquinquennal. In 2003, she decided to launch herself into the writing and conceiving of theatre shows, and together with Jean-Benoît Ugeux created the company Résidence Catherine. This company will be presenting Zaï Zaï Zaï Zaï and Hansel and Gretel. In 2008 she created her own company, Das Fräulein (Kompanie) within which she will develop the performances (Self) Service and HABIT(U)ATION (Kunstenfestivaldesarts 2011), both extracts from the Trilogie des parenthèses.

Das Fräulein (Kompanie), formerly Résidence Catherine, was initiated in 2003. Renamed Das Fräulein in 2008 by Anne-Cécile Vandalem, it has four shows to its credit, so far. The first two, Zai Zai Zai Zai and Hansel and Gretel, were written and performed in tandem with Jean-Benoît Ugeux. Hansel and Gretel received the Prix de la critique2007 Découverte award. In 2008, she created the first of a trilogy. The Trilogie des parenthèses intends to pose the question of how isolation and isolated people intervene in their reality in order to survive it. (Self) Service was nominated for the Prix de la critique2009 as best artistic and technical creation. Furthermore, Brigitte Dedry also received the best actor award for her role in (Self) Service. In 2010, HABIT(U)ATION the second part of the trilogy, was created at the Théâtre de Namur and performed on many Belgian and French stages. HABIT(U)ATION was nominated for the Prix de la critique 2011 as best show and best artistic and technical creation. Over the course of 2012, in parallel to the trilogy, the company created MICHEL DUPONT, a show destined for an audience of young teens (and adults).

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