Notre besoin de consolation est impossible à rassasier

Les Brigittines

4/05 > 20:30
5.9.11/05 > 18:00
10/05 > 22:00
FR - Subtitles: NL - 60’

In affirming that Notre besoin de consolation est impossible à rassasier (Our need of consolation is boundless), author Stig Dagerman and director Armel Roussel are summarising essentials. To begin the first part of what is provisionally being called Body Building Trilogie, Armel Roussel is confronting the ideas, images, metaphors, sensations, the he who only wanted to write for hungry people discovers only those who have had enough to eat… (Dagerman) and the unusual world of the “electro-mechanical-maniacal” plastic artist Gilbert Peyre. The French artist diverts elements with the mechanical and the electrical. What is left? The poetic. Notre besoin de consolation est impossible à rassasier comprises a concertinaing of things choreographic, poetical, lyrical and melodramatic. If prior to this Armel Roussel made noise to make silence heard, he is now inviting silence. But there is a risk that a lot of noise will be made… on the inside.

Text : Stig Dagerman

Translation : Philippe Bouquet

Direction : Armel Roussel

Actors : Karim Barras, Kalia Barras, Urteza Da Fonseca, Kitty Kortes Lynch, Vincent Minne

Composer, sound & musician : Pierre-Alexandre Lampert

Visual artist : Gilbert Peyre

Assistant visual artist : Aligna

Technical director : Pierre Stoffyn

Technical coordination : Sonia Rickli

Costume advisor : Mina Lee

General assistant : Eric Castex

Lighting : Marion Hewlett

Production manager : Laurent Henry

Production : Utopia asbl (Brussel/Bruxelles)

Coproduction & presentation : Les Brigittines-Bruxelles, KunstenFESTIVALdesArts

Supported by : Le Ministère de la Culture de la Communauté Française de Belgique – Service du Théâtre, l’Association Française d’Action Artistique et le service de coopération et d’action culturelle de l’ambassade de France à Bruxelles

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This is the first time since I started directing that I haven’t known exactly what I’m going to do. I’ve not allowed myself to know. I’m using my emotions to feel my way along. I can touch the sides scattered around me, alive – and I feel inert. I’ve never felt like this before starting work on a production. In two months’ time there’ll be rehearsals – two long, short, big, slow months that are going to fly by. I’m reading:My power will know no bounds on the day when all that remains to defend my inviolability is my silence, because there is no axe that can gain a purchase on living silence and I can hear Vincent’s muffled and carnivorous voice . Should I make it louder? There’s no irony here. Kalia is riding the rocking horse. Karim is playing music with Pierre-Alexandre. Urteza is being one of The Outsiders , reciting a poem by Aragon under her breath. Kitty is dancing. Would I be brave enough to exceed my own violence? I don’t know. I really don’t know. Knives fall and there is silence. Silence is sexy . Gilbert’s works2 wander through the text and everything becomes even more beautiful. J’ai froid .

In Gilbert’s cosmos everything is diverted mechanically, revisited electrically and poetised maniacally. Gilbert defines himself as an ‘electro-mechanical-maniacal’ visual artist. When I came across his work in Paris a year ago, I had quite a shock. I remember visiting his exhibition ten times, full of new wonder with each visit at this cosmos which is amuseum of industrial art and design, engine room, fun fair, music hall, opera, magic show, phantasmagoria, ceremony, liturgy, procession, zoo, circus, mechanical comedy, orgy and comical apocalypse all in one. I had Dagerman’s words going round in my head and the wonder I experienced there was part of the project. Vincent2 came and we were hysterical.

Notre besoin de consolation est impossible à rassasier (Our Need of consolation is boundless) is the first part of a trilogy originally calledBody Building Trilogy. Its second part is based on Hamlet and the third is Les Amis font le Philosophe (Die Freunde machen den Philosophen) by Jakob Lenz. Silence. Doubt. ‘Infiniteness’.

Our need of consolation is boundless is by the Swedish writer Stig Dagerman, written when he was thirty years old. Considered the ‘rising star of new Swedish literature in the 1940s’, he is said to have left a feverish, indelible mark on both his age and on literature. Written in the first person, Our need of consolation is boundless emanates an anguished light, fed on rebellion, hope, lucidity and helplessness. After writing these twelve pages Dagerman took his own life, but I dissociate his biography from his writing. For me it was written for living not for dying. Hamlet talks to us of deceptive reality and says that truth can be found in illusion. Strephon ends up holding his knees, alone, saying “Oh, what exquisite pleasure there is in adoring a human being!” These three texts all throw up issues of inheritance and how to ‘live profoundly’ in a futile society.

Probably because there was a similar search in the three plays for transgression from norms, some have considered Roberto Zucco (1996, B-M Koltès)Les Européens (The Europeans) (1998, H Barker) and enterrer les Morts/réparer les Vivants (2000, based on Chekhov’s Platonov) to be a trilogy (albeit an unintentional one). If a trilogy, then it fell clearly within what might be called Theatre of the Idea. On the other hand, theBody Building Trilogy falls consciously within intimate theatre, closer to Thought than to Idea. Dagerman forms the trilogy’s backbone and is the inspiration for its first part. It is a project that produces a real maelstrom – if I’m not the author of its component parts, then I allow myself the possibility of being the creator of its whole.

I’m just trying to talk about doubt and the violence of this doubt, of the difficulty of being permanently called into question and the resultant suffering and joy. The words I’m seeking for the stage have to be sensuous and thus aimed at emotions, at broad Thought rather than at intellect, analysis, or the Idea. Encountering Gilbert has brought me this slice of the universal that poetises my sensations concretely without however defining them. This is where our common language lies.

GILBERT PEYRE.

– In actual fact, when someone says that his son draws better than Picasso, it’s just that Picasso was looking for the spontaneity that children have…

ARMEL ROUSSEL.

– That’s very important!Are you going to be giving concrete answers to the philosophical questions Dagerman poses?

KUNSTENFESTIVALDESARTS.

– Gaan jullie concrete antwoorden geven op de filosofische vragen van Dagerman?

ARMEL ROUSSEL.

– Justifying theatre with reality kills theatre.

GILBERT PEYRE.

– That’s true.

ARMEL ROUSSEL.

– Reality is a thousand times more powerful than Art.

GILBERT PEYRE.

– That’s true.

ARMEL ROUSSEL.

– I am concerned with the world’s problems, but I don’t want to use them to make a production.

GILBERT PEYRE.

– That’s along the lines of what I think too.

ARMEL ROUSSEL.

– By making sense, we forget that it’s necessary to find the real essence (laughter).

GILBERT PEYRE.

– That’s along the lines of what I think too.

In the excerpt I’ve chosen from The Writer and Consciousness, Dagerman writes ‘that’s along the lines of what I think too,’ as Gilbert would say. For him, as for me, poems are a message from one human being to another. It is a message that does not immediately reveal each one of its thoughts. When you attack me (this is Dagerman talking) and say, ‘your poem is not understood by the people, by the masses, by the workers, there’s not enough in it about social issues’, then I have the right to reply and say, ‘your reasoning is based on a misunderstanding. It is a misunderstanding that wants the social poem alone to be the one that everyone understands.’ (…) For people like that, poetry has stopped being a message sent by one human being to another. For people like that, it has been reduced to the level of a parlour game. (…) When they shout ‘Reaction’ upon reading a poem that is impossible to learn by heart in five minutes, or that does not immediately reveal each one of its thoughts, it is they themselves who are being reactionary (…) because they are contesting that literature might be important for human beings – not in the manner of a parlour game, but as a touchstone of its own honesty in the face of life. (…) It is evident that the writer cannot deny those who insist on refusing to take literature seriously the right to attack for lack of clarity as much as for any other reason. However, he must realise that it is against these people that it needs to be defended, and he is right to say to these people, ‘if literature is a parlour game, I will go out into the dusk with my foot smeared in black to unite me with the snakes and the little grey desert rat. But if literature is indispensable to life, do not leave your sandals behind, but watch out for the piles of stones! Here are the snakes aiming at my heel, here is the desert rat that makes me feel sick.

Armel Roussel, december 2001

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