Suite n°1

« ABC »

18, 20, 21/05 – 20:30

19/05 – 15:00

EN / FR / DE / NL / ES / PT / GR / IT / HR / RU / JP / CN / KR / Arab / Hebrew

1h 15min

Launched in 2007, the Encyclopédie de la Parole is an artistic project whose aim is to decipher the mechanics of oral communication. Headed up by Frenchman Joris Lacoste, a group of artists is collecting recorded words of all kinds and making an inventory of them based on characteristics such as their cadence, choral nature, emphasis and melody. At the invitation of the festival, Lacoste has used this repertoire as his starting point to compose an exceptional show – the first in a cycle of many. In the old “Amerikaans Theater” television studio built by the architect Edward Durell Stone for Expo 58, a conductor directs a multilingual choir of eleven performers and twelve amateurs. Following a score constructed from fragments of interviews, news bulletins, sitcoms and political speeches, they offer an extraordinary recital that lays bare the disturbing relationship between the forms and content of language. Suite n°1 is a poetic, political and sensory monument to the expressive power of words.

General idea & document collection
Frédéric Danos, Joris Lacoste, Emmanuelle Lafon, Nicolas Rollet

Composition & production
Joris Lacoste

Musical director
Nicolas Rollet

Ese Brume, Hans Bryssinck, Geoffrey Carey, Frédéric Danos, Delphine Hecquet, Vladimir Kudryavtsev, Emmanuelle Lafon, Marine Sylf, Nuno Lucas, Barbara Matijevic, Olivier Normand & 11 guests

Special collectors
Constantin Alexandrakis, Annie Dorsen, Grégory Castéra, Myriam Van Imschoot, Valérie Louys, Loreto Troncoso Martinez, Olivier Normand, Sabine Macher, Berno Odo Polzer, Tomoko Miyata, Elise Simonet, Seyma Aouij

Director's assistant
Elise Simonet

Grégory Castéra & David Christoffel

Koen De Saeger & Florian Leduc

General management
Florian Leduc

Production, PR, administration
Frédérique Payn & Marc Pérennès

Échelle 1:1 (a company subsidised by the Ministry of Culture and Communication / DRAC Ile-de-France)

Kunstenfestivaldesarts (Brussels), Parc de la Villette - artists' residences (Paris), Théâtre Universitaire (Nantes), Centre Georges Pompidou (Paris), Festival d'Automne à Paris, TNBA (Bordeaux), Nouveau Théâtre de Montreuil - centre dramatique national (Montreuil), Studio-Théâtre de Vitry (Vitry-sur-Seine), Macval (Vitry-sur-Seine)

Supported by
Institut français & the artistic involvement of the Jeune Théâtre National

Project co-produced by
NXTSTP with support of the Culture Programme of the European Union

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Suite no. 1 "ABC" for 11 performers and 11 guests (2013)

L'Encyclopédie de la parole

L'Encyclopédie de la parole (Encyclopaedia of the Word) is an artistic project exploring the spoken word in all its forms. Since 2007, this group of musicians, poets, directors, visual artists, actors, sociolinguists and curators have been collecting all sorts of recordings of words and then indexing them on their website ( according to their particular properties or phenomena such as their cadence, chorality, timbre, address, saturation and melody.

What do the following have in common: the poetry of Marinetti, the dialogues of Louis de Funès, a horse racing commentary, a lecture by Jacques Lacan, an excerpt from South Park, the flow of Eminem and Lil Wayne, a message left on an answering machine, Julien Lepers' questions, an Adventist sermon, The Young and the Restless dubbed in French, a speech by Léon Blum or Bill Clinton, an auction, a shamanic incantation, Sarah Bernhardt's declamations, a defence speech by Jacques Vergès, an advert for shampoo and conversations recorded in the local café?

From this collection of what is now close to 800 sound documents, the Encyclopédie de la parole produces sound pieces, performances and shows, lectures, games and exhibitions.

In 2013, the Encyclopédie de la parole has brought together Frédéric Danos, Emmanuelle Lafon, Nicolas Rollet, Joris Lacoste, Grégory Castéra and David Christoffel.

The Suite chorales (Choral Suites)

In 2013, the Encyclopédie de la parole undertook an ambitious cycle of Suite chorales. Like the show Parlement (2009), whose issues are being extended and accentuated, the projected shows all rest on a simple principle: that of vocally reproducing a succession of varied recordings as faithfully as possible. These sound documents involving particular situations and figures of language are articulated so that the full wealth and complexity of the most ordinary or most remarkable words are heard.

Reproducing them as closely as possible is not about playing with situations or imitating individuals, still less about embodying characters, but about treating each recorded word musically in the wealth and complexity of its intonations, rhythm, skill, movements and real hesitations. Situations and contexts are left to become apparent through the voices alone: a theatre to be heard.

One of the most disturbing effects of intensifying the choral aspect is the dissociation from context and content: you suddenly pay attention to methods of discussing, listening, charming, explaining, methods of saying and tonalities that up to now were hidden behind the need for meaning. Since they are dealt with like very exact scores, the most ordinary, most trivial words suddenly assume a strangeness that makes us hear them differently.

The scores of the Suite chorales unfold on three parallel levels: a succession of clearly recognisable and contrasting situations; the meaning of the actual words whose sequence and articulation composes a text in the form of a patchwork has different explanations depending on the linguistic contexts; and the level of the language's sound or music which most of the time is combined with the level of affects and intensities.

The choral formation allows the words to be performed by different types of cast and divided differently - harmonies, polyphonies and variations in the number of people. The choir orchestrates breaking up individuals into the form of the word itself which can then become the real character of the piece. By introducing to the stage murmuring, turns of phrase, sentences and inflexions from our most immediate day-to-day life, the Suite chorales seek to take up again one of the primordial functions of the ancient choir: to confront a human community with its own representation.

By increasing the number of styles, registers, performers, languages, fictions and games of composition, the Encyclopédie de la parole's Suite chorales cycle sets out to erect a precarious, mobile and living monument to the diversity of oral forms.

Suite no.1 "ABC"

The first of the Suite chorales presents around fifty excerpts from the Encyclopédie de la parole's sound collection. The meaning of the composition's title, "ABC", reflects as much the method as the "first steps". The score endeavours to display features of the human word: the b.a. -ba, babble, the blabla, the brouhaha, basic vocabulary, the pleasure of translations and the joy of languages that are not understood. By experiencing situations that have nothing to do with one other, by confronting ways of speaking which are usually compartmentalised, the piece sets out an approximate grammar of our shared orality: an ABC of the ordinary word in thirteen languages, with twenty-two performers and five parts:

The first part, in the form of an overture, explains the principle and situation of the show: the mimetic reproduction of real words, the amplification by the choir of a singular voice, the here and now, the us and you, the left hemisphere and the right hemisphere;

The second part functions like a small anthology of situations in which you talk primarily for the pleasure of talking: the chatter of two babies, a recitation of a poem, a Catholic prayer, a pronunciation game or a football commentary. The word is a game here first, a joyous exercise, a gratuitous eloquence. Ironically it blends situations of supposedly high-level communication (advertisement, TV news) with which these excerpts maintain a strange formal kinship;

The third part places the emphasis on the 'how' of this word we are speaking by alternating examples, explanations, lessons, games, moments of friendship, lists of words, exercises: how you pronounce, how you say, how you translate, how you accentuate, cadence, recite, how you chew your words;

The fourth part opens up the voice to incarnation: here the voice becomes what it is that allows roles to be played, identities to be performed, to be possessed by voices, to give life (literally) to characters, to invoke proper nouns and absent divinities;

The last part, in the form of a finale, is an ambiguous invitation to dream, to imagine, to sing, to go into ecstasies, to encourage, to give oneself permission to talk a load of rubbish: "Empower each and every voice".

To be continued...

If you would like to take part in the collection of the Encyclopédie de la parole and contribute to the scores of the next Suite chorales, send your sound documents to

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Joris Lacoste was born in 1973, and lives and works in Paris. He has written for theatre and radio since 1996, and has been conducting his own performances since 2003. He also created 9 lyriques pour actrice et caisse claire at the Laboratoires d’Aubervilliers in 2005 and Purgatoire at the Théâtre national de la Colline in 2007, for which he was also an associate auteur. From 2007 to 2009 he was co-director of the Laboratoires d’Aubervilliers. He initiated two collective projects, project W in 2004 and the Encyclopédie de la parole in 2007, resulting in the solo Parlementin 2009. In 2004 he launched the project Hypnographie to explore the artistic uses of hypnosis: in this context he produced the radio play Au musée du sommeil (France Culture, 2009), the exhibition-performance Le Cabinet d’hypnose (Printemps de Septembre; Toulouse, 2010), the theatre piece Le vrai spectacle (Festival d’Automne; Paris, 2011), the exhibition 12 rêves préparés (GB Agency; Paris, 2012), the performances La maison vide (Festival Far°; Nyon, 2012) and 4 Prepared Dreams (for April March, Jonathan Caouette, Tony Conrad and Annie Dorsen) in New York in October 2012.

L’Encyclopédie de la parole is a collaborative project that seeks to transversely understand the diversity of oral forms. Since September 2007, l’Encyclopédie de la parole has been collecting all kinds of records and lists according to specific phenomena of speech cadences, harmonies, compressions, emphases, spacing, melodies, repetitions, residues, saturations, timbres, etc. Each of these concepts is an entry in the Encyclopaedia, with a sound body and an explanatory leaflet. From these records, l’Encyclopédie de la parole produces sound pieces, shows, performances, conferences, installations, a game, etc. which are presented at public openings.

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