Confronted with the SARS-CoV-2 crisis, we had to cancel the 25th edition of the festival in May 2020, including this project.

À nous deux maintenant

    16/05  | 20:30
    17/05  | 20:30
    18/05  | 20:30

€ 18 / € 15 (-25/65+)
± 2h 50min
FR > NL / EN

Actor, puppeteer, ventriloquist, dancer and singer, Jonathan Capdevielle loves adding to his roles and altering identities. Resolutely autobiographical, his very singular work for theatre rummages through the narrowness of the family unit. Its aim is to shatter parochialism and all forms of local idiosyncrasies. For his latest creation he has taken an external source, a story written by Georges Bernanos in 1935, and led it towards the questions that inhabit his own artistic world. In The Crime, a detective novel that rejects the realism of the classic police story, the enquiry is centred on the enigmatic figure of a provincial parish priest, a character as shady as he is charismatic. By manipulating sounds and voices live, Jonathan Capdevielle directly influences the sound environment of the play and takes it towards the fantastic. A polyphony of voices performed by five actors who juggle the roles between them, À nous deux maintenant plays with a polychrome typology of identities and interpretations of the text. As the narration progresses, lost in a detective novel without an end, the characters no long appear like real figures. Completely fantasised, they open up a range of possibilities...

Based on
Un crime
by Georges Bernanos

Concept, adaptation & direction
Jonathan Capdevielle

Clémentine Baert, Jonathan Capdevielle, Dimitri Doré, Jonathan Drillet, Arthur B. Gillette (in shift with Jennifer Hutt), Michèle Gurtner

Artistic & direction assistance
Jonathan Drillet

Nadia Lauro

Scene construction
Les ateliers de Nanterre-Amandiers (Marie Maresca, Michel Arnould, Gabriel Baca, Théodore Bailly, Mickaël Leblond)

Light design
Patrick Riou assisté de David Goualou

Sound design & music
Vanessa Court, Arthur B. Gillette, Jennifer Hutt, Manuel Poletti

Music composition
Arthur B. Gillette

Vanessa Court

Electronic music collaborator IRCAM
Manuel Poletti

Modular Synth Ray created & construct by
Benoit Guivarc’h

With the circuits
Ray Wilson

Colombe Lauriot Prévost

Stage manager
Jérôme Masson

External eye
Virginie Hammel

Production, diffusion, administration
Isabelle Morel, Manon Crochemore & Romane Roussel (Fabrik Cassiopée)

Thanks to
Safia Benhaim, Marie Etchegoyen, Lundja Gillette, Laurence Viallet

Production déléguée
Association Poppydog

Translation in English & surtitles
Harol Manning

Kunstenfestivaldesarts, Théâtre Varia

Executive producer
Association Poppydog

Le Quai CDN Angers Pays de la Loire, Nanterre – Amandiers, CDN, Festival d’Automne à Paris,CDN Orléans, manège, scène nationale-reims, Théâtre Garonne, scène européenne Toulouse, Arsenic - Centre d’art scénique contemporain, (Lausanne), Le Parvis scène nationale Tarbes Pyrénées,

Ircam-Centre Pompidou (Paris)

With the support of
King’s Fountain

Thanks to
CND Pantin, la Villette – Résidence d’artistes 2016, Quartz, scène nationale de Brest, Montévidéo, Créations Contemporaines - Atelier de Fabrique Artistique, l’Institut français & l’ambassade de France en Belgique, dans le cadre de EXTRA

Jonathan Capdevielle is artiste associé with QUAI CDN Angers Pays de la Loire The Association Poppydog is supported by la DRAC Ile-de-France

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Interview with Jonathan Capdevielle

Jonathan Capdevielle, you’re an actor, singer, dancer, manipulator of objects, ventriloquist… and viewed as a stage artist who can do it all. You’re currently also directing. What suits you best out of all these?
I set up my own company very recently with the production office Fabrik Cassiopée but since 2010, if I count my collaborative directing projects plus the ones I’ve done on my own, I’ve created six pieces. It’s true that I’m really interested in this new string to my bow. My intention for the time being is to try and see how far I manage to develop what I’d like to achieve as a director. 

As for the role of imitation, which is particularly atypical here, how would you describe it?
I’d say that imitation is a bit like giving evidence. 

That seems paradoxical. To give evidence don’t you have to be yourself?
Yes, I imitate to give evidence and that’s a paradox I accept. I’m myself by being others. More precisely, I talk about myself by imitating those close to me. I talk about them and, in parallel by shining the spotlight on them, it’s me who’s being looked at. And as I don’t imitate in an “entertaining” way with a desire to make people laugh, it’s an imitation that is shrouded in a certain modesty that doesn’t rule out humour. In other respects it’s an imitation that’s detached from the body, I mean from the body present on stage. Imitation here is used to get ghosts talking; it’s dissociated from the body. The body alone opens up other spaces than the ones it usually moves in. So the form on stage and the movement of the body are dissociated from what the voice is doing, sometimes strongly and surprisingly so. 

Your latest work À nous deux maintenant is based on an interpretation of the novel The Crime by Georges Bernanos. What appealed to you about the book?
Watching the films Mouchette and The Diary of a Country Priest by Robert Bresson really made an impression on me. Each in their own way these film adaptations present the crisis of what it means to be a child living in poverty and the burden these children have to carry. Bernanos writes well about such things. In 2008 I was contacted by Jean Couturier to play the role of the priest of Mégère – the main character in the novel The Crime – for a radio play. That was my first contact with Bernanos’s writing as such, and it stayed with me. Finally in my next piece I wanted to explore something other than autobiography, confront an author’s writing and move away from auto-fiction. I could have based it on a theatre play, but I preferred a novel. Saga was already a novel, a form of family fresco, a novel about life and, as in Adishatz, there are lots of true life youthful adventures in it. These two pieces are filled with symbolic characters from my childhood, like Maupassant or Pagnol, from the countryside, really powerful figures who shape how we see the world. These adults could have put me in danger because they played slightly dangerous games that I unwittingly witnessed as a child, but ultimately they offered a kind of protection. 

Do you think it was this unexpected childhood “on the fringes” that propelled you to become an artist?
This immersion in a kind of organised crime at a very young age was clearly a catalyst that motivated my desire for theatre. Living as a thief for three years with my brother-in-law, his children and my sister, this unique, extreme life, barely believable for those close to me when I tell them about it – and it’s good that behind it all there’s something between reality and fantasy – really inspired me, that’s for sure. I did theatre from a very young age. Between 11 and 14, and my sister was very young too, barely 20. She was with this guy, he worked as a baker, but really he was involved in organised crime. It was fantastic living with them: we lived in a context without time, a permanent incredible experience. This infinite freedom made us grow up more quickly than planned because we had to be able to look after ourselves and because I saw things between adults that I shouldn’t have seen or heard. And then later there was a real family tragedy: a succession of deaths. It was like a Greek tragedy, where all the living died and you had to deal with the dead, with illness and death, with a brutal challenging of our identity… In any case, life with my sister and brother-in-law really led me to theatre. Yes, I loved it and they paid for my lessons and later for my driving licence. They sensed that there was this artistic need in the kid I was: from a young age I was transported by dance, transported by singing, I was always imitating, I made up stories, I directed things and situations, sometimes with other children. Of course it was a way of cutting myself off from reality, I transcended the difficulties of real life by turning everything around me into theatre. 

In The Crime there’s an element of the fantastical that doubtless interested you…
Of course, I think that I wouldn’t have taken on this adaptation without it. It’s a lot of hard work but it’s exactly this point of connection that carries me: I’m basing my adaptation of this work by Bernanos on my intuitions and experiences. Perhaps it’s not his most complicated work, but it has numerous themes running through it that are all quite powerful and tortuous. 

Among the themes that include religion, the ambivalence of the main character’s sexuality, the portrait of regional characters, which were the ones you wanted to highlight?
More than anything, the central androgynous figure was a real motivation for me. The ambiguous seduction by the priest, the fascination he generates among the peasants, among these country people, reminds me so much of the characters I knew with their charisma and influence… It has to be said that between the wars, priests had an importance and power that’s different now. There was an unerring trust in them. What’s fascinating in the novel’s young hero is that he isn’t a real priest. This timeless character is disguised: everyone thinks that there’s a man of God under the cassock. It’s already hard enough to get into the sometimes very awkward character of a priest, beneath the attire of the universal cassock. He actually happens not to be a man of God, but a daughter of a defrocked nun, carted around by her mother from boarding house to boarding house from an early age to hide her from the world. Continually compelled to hide her identity, she just ended up copying the adult who was her mother. Bernanos dissects the effect of this imitation between the daughter and the mother sublimely and really violently! People often stop at the murders when they first read it, but the motive… is actually much deeper. Bernanos loses the reader in a way that is rare in detective novels: instead of creating a funnel, he expands everything and the resolution of it all isn’t clear. It’s an investigation, so people say to themselves: investigation, clues, motive, perhaps accomplices and, especially, guilty. So at the start, yes, but afterwards hold on tight [laughs]! In fact I think that he even got lost himself, there’s a moment of going crazy. It has to be said that at the start, he produced this book for financial reasons. He was a noted author on the subject matter but didn’t know the style of the detective novel at all. His publishing house also refused the second part, saying, “We don’t understand any of it, you’re going to have to space out the cassocks and the psychology” [laughs]. It’s extraordinary! Caught between a rock and a hard place, he didn’t space out the cassocks, but used them differently: there was no longer a real priest but the idea of this transvestite priest. It’s all so funny that… I ended up by including Bernanos as a character in the play [laughs]. I wanted to put him on stage in the role of the investigating magistrate, the one leading the enquiry. An almost supernatural climate is added to the enquiry’s realism, the nights are too long, the bright spots too few and the characters febrile: people often dramatically change in dreams, good or bad, in hallucinations, a state between waking and sleeping that brings out an idea, which creates some distance and questions reality by leading to the truth being discovered. 

In the novel, there’s a permanent tension between acceptance of being “a hostage to your environment” and making the choice to get out of it. This question of social determinism (already at the heart of Adishatz) must have really appealed to you…
It interested me much more than the central character, a lover caught in the stranglehold between her condition and her desire to escape and who has to keep improvising. Indeed it wasn’t her wish to wear the cassock. In reality, she crossed paths with the real curate by chance when she was on the run after her first murder, and had no choice but to kill him. So she “cross-dressed” and will wear this new mask until the end. Part of the explanation lies in the fact that the heroine, the hidden daughter of the servant of the murdered rich chatelaine and the heiress’s lover, attempts a reconciliation between this wealthy woman and her great-niece who is threatened with being cut off. The sprawling detective novel inspired the work of the stage designer Nadia Lauro. She’s proposed a visual device that intensifies the ramifications and continuous interweaving in Bernanos’s text. She came up with a tree-like sculpture that extends out beyond the frame of the theatre stage. A poisonous stump, a faithful reproduction of an extraordinary two-hundredyear-old subject, which also involves a maximum invisible invasion of the space underground. 

Did you consider issues about religion?
Yes, but in relation to what they crystallise in the character who manages to wear different masks, with the mask of religion being her last means of hiding. And yet this cassock, which at first glance saves her, is also her prison, and will ultimately be her grave. 

Are you a believer?
No. And yet there’s no judgement either way about the character of the heroine. Her cross-dressing is only the consequence of chance; what matters is discerning the truth from the lie that comes from the figure has tily constructed by the heroine. Even when she uses words, her speech is nevertheless linked to something other than the religious, far from church spires. It’s closer to the heart and the confusion of amorous feelings, revelatory too of a distant suffering, that of the cradle, “which is less deep than the grave” according to Bernanos. A believer? Well, I believe in things but… I didn’t go to Sunday school. On the other hand I am baptised, to have a spot in “the ground” in the cemetery for practical purposes because people aren’t allowed to put you in the garden [laughs]. But I went to Lourdes a lot, specifically to see priests who fascinated me. In fact the pilgrimage to Lourdes is an opportunity to see a town invaded by cassocks, by cardinals… and to see the untouchable and mysterious power unleashed by this religious gathering, carried by a belief, which for Bernanos has to be as authentic as possible. 

Did you want to give the story a moral?
No, no moral, just the “Bernanosian” dream, a desperate hope. He’s a writer who uses black humour and a fascination with death with extreme finesse. The future isn’t bright with Bernanos when it comes to a view about his time and his future. His reflection on the world was almost prophetic: “What horrifies me – God wants me to be able to share my horror with you – is that it’s not that the modern world’s destroying everything, but that it’s not being enriched at all by what it destroys. By destroying, it is consumed. This civilisation is a civilisation of consumption, which will last for as long as there is something to consume. Oh! I know it costs you to view it as such when its unique law seems precisely to be about production, even production to excess. But this monstrous production, this gigantic production, is precisely the sign of disorder to which sooner or later it cannot fail but succumb. By destroying, it is consumed. By producing, it is destroyed. Mechanical and concentrated civilisation produces merchandise and devours mankind.” 

Interview by Mélanie Drouère for the Festival d’Automne à Paris

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Jonathan Capdevielle was born in 1976 in Tarbes, France and now lives in Paris. A graduate of the École Supérieure Nationale des Arts de la Marionnette, he is an unconventional artist, actor, puppeteer, ventriloquist, dancer and singer. He has been involved in several creations Natacha de Pontcharra, Lotfi Achour, Marielle Pinsard, David Girondin Moab. Working with Gisèle Vienne from the outset, he has performed in nearly all her productions, including those produced with Étienne Bideau Rey. In 2011 Gisèle Vienne, Dennis Cooper, Peter Rehberg and Jonathan Capdevielle published a book and CD entitled Jerk / À TRAVERS LEURS LARMES published in both French and English in the ZagZig series by DISVOIR. In 2007 he created the performance-singing tour Jonathan Covering at the Tanz im August Festival in Berlin, which provided the starting point for his play Adishatz/Adieu which premiered in January 2010 at the C’est de la Danse Contemporaine festival organised by the Centre de Développement Chorégraphique Toulouse/Midi Pyrénées. He was then invited to present Popydog in November 2011, created in collaboration with Marlène Saldana at the Centre National de la Danse in Pantin, and in response to a proposition by the festival far°, a performing arts festival in Nyon, Switzerland in August 2012, he offered the piece Spring Rolle, an in-situ project with Jean-Luc Verna and Marlène Saldana. In Saga, created in February 2015, Jonathan Capdevielle opened a new autobiographical chapter working on episodes of a family saga with its symbolic characters and twists, exploring the boundaries between fiction and reality and past and present. À nous deux maintenant is his adaptation of the novel The Crime by Georges Bernanos. It premiered on November 2017. Curently, Jonathan Capdevielle is associate artist at Le Quai / Centre Dramatique National d’Angers – Pays de la Loire.

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