Suite n°2

8/05 – 20:30
9/05 – 20:30
10/05 – 20:30
12/05 – 20:30
13/05 – 20:30
EN / JP / FR / NL / DE / GR / DE / PT / IT / ES / KR / RU / HR / CN / BR / GR / Arabic / Lingala > EN
1h 30min

How do you bring an archive to life on stage? L’Encyclopédie de la parole is an artistic project that has been collecting and cataloguing recordings of works since 2007 with the aim of revealing the richness of oral expression in all its forms. With its series Suites chorales, which began in 2013, the group is also adapting this collection into stage plays. Following the dazzling Suite n°1, the festival is now presenting the world premiere of Suite n°2, an anthology of sound documents vocally reproduced by five soloists. In this musical comedy words pop up that have been said somewhere already. It is a piece where the action happens only through what is being said: the hesitations, outbursts, silent whispers and subtle tones of the voices. Suite n°2 is a fun and exhilarating work that shows just how much the world is made up of words. Language no problem!

Encyclopédie de la parole

Composition & direction
Joris Lacoste

Pierre-Yves Macé

Performed by
Vladimir Kudryavtsev, Emmanuelle Lafon, Nuno Lucas, Barbara Matijevic, Olivier Normand

Assistance & collaboration
Elise Simonet

Lighting, video & technique
Florian Leduc

Stéphane Leclercq

Ling Zhu

Vocal coaches
Valérie Philippin, Vincent Leterme

Vice Versa

Julie Etienne

Video assistance
Diane Blondeau

Video programming
Thomas Köppel

Language coaches
Azhar Abbas, Amalia Alba Vergara, Mithkal Alzghair, Sabine Macher, Ayako Terauchi Besson

Constantin Alexandrakis, Mithkal Alzghair, Ryusei Asahina, Judith Blankenberg, Giuseppe Chico, David-Alexandre Guéniot, Léo Gobin, Haeju Kim, Monika Kowolik, Federico Paino, Pauline Simon, Ayako Terauchi Besson, Helene Roolf, Anneke Lacoste, Max Turnheim, Nicolas Mélard, Ling Zhu, Valerie Louys, Frederic Danos, Barbara Matijevic, Vladimir Kudryavtsev, Olivier Normand, Nuno Lucas, Etienne Simonet

Judith Martin, Marc Pérennès, Dominique Bouchot

Dominique Bouchot, Marc Pérennès

Ligne directe / Judith Martin

Kunstenfestivaldesarts, Beursschouwburg

Echelle 1:1 (subsidized by Ministère de la Culture et de la Communication / DRAC Ile-de-France)

T2G Théâtre de Gennevilliers, Festival d’Automne à Paris, Asian Culture Complex – Asian Arts Theater (Gwangju), Kunstenfestivaldesarts, Théâtre Vidy-Lausanne, steirischer herbst (Graz), Seinendan Komaba Agora Theater (Tokyo), La Villette – résidences d’artistes 2015 (Paris), Théâtre National de Bordeaux en Aquitaine, Rotterdamse Schouwburg

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

Supported by
Institut français (Théâtre Export & CIRCLES), Nouveau Théâtre de Montreuil

l’Usine, Scène conventionnée (Tournefeuille)

Performance in Brussels supported by
Institut français

Subtitling supported by

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Interview with Joris Lacoste

Suite n°1 ‘ABC’ presented a different approach to learning language. In Suite n°2, you’re interested in words that have a meaningful effect on reality, speaking as a way of doing. What exactly are you looking for in this shift towards action coming from words?

Suite n°1 functioned for me like an introduction to the Suites chorales series in Encyclopédie de la parole: I wanted to come up with somethinglike an ABC of ordinary words, using around fifty very different situations.In Suite n°2, the challenge is to enter into the drama or action etymologically,allowing words to be heard that are part of the world andthat make something, ‘performative’ words that act on or attempt to acton reality. I thought there might be a theatrical challenge in creating ashow out of them that contains action, yet with the action coming entirelythrough the voices. A piece in which events would happen in andthrough the word itself: declarations of love or war, break ups, verdicts,threats, encouragements, exhortations, prayers, crises of all kinds.When you think of the proliferation of recorded videos, speeches andmessages around us, you might say that words have never had as muchinfluence on the world as they do today, and perhaps even that it is takingover again from the written word. And what interests me in particularis not just to make spoken words heard, but also the way in whichthey are spoken. The whole purpose of the Encyclopédie project is to believethat the form of the word, its inflexions, its accents, its silences,are just as meaningful – sometimes even much more so – as what is actuallybeing said.

What methods do you use to find and select the recordings that you’re going to reproduce on stage?
For almost eight years working on Encyclopédie de la parole, we’ve beenunearthing and collecting of all kinds recordings of words that seemremarkable to us in one way or another. We’ve got hundreds of themarchived on our website. When we start working on a new piece, I definethe areas of research with a certain number of criteria, and together wemake an initial, very broad selection of documents. I then choose andorganise the documents that will be in the piece. I’d say that the documentsimpose themselves thanks to a combination of chance, intuitionand stubbornness. The objective is to find words that in themselves havea kind of perfection, that stand alone outside the context in which theywere produced. You have to listen to them until you get the feeling thatyou intimately understand them. When some impose themselves as possible characters, we invite them to be part of the show, we give thema role, a body, partners. We hear them enter into a dialogue with theother ones, we identify the sympathies, contrasts, agreements, pointson which they clash, we organise encounters, and at a given momentthey begin to respond to one another and together tell us somethingexceptional.

How do you get the words to coexist when they are so varied in terms of language, situation, register and culture?
I’m always fascinated by the notion that at this very moment in China, in Colombia, in Austria, in Béziers, in Uganda, people are living, doing things, eating with their family, attending meetings, having rows, talking to their dogs, praying, selling bulls, rotting in prison, making love and fighting to survive. I regularly try – and this is a spiritual exercise I recommend – to imagine as many things as possible taking place in different parts of the world. The whole question of this piece for me is how we get different planes of reality to exist together? I love Johan van der Keuken’s films, which are constructed as if they’re drifting along and whose exact logic escapes us, but we still have faith in them. His way of editing has helped me understand how to get such different words to cohabit. I’m not interested in just producing shocks, contrasts, a hubbub; I have no more fascination for chaos than I do for order. What interests me, in this era of multitasking, is the process of harmonisation: how our mind manages to handle all the incredibly disparate information it receives every day and, rather than succumbing to exhaustion, how it is able to invent new types of arrangements, new formal structures, new possibilities of meaning. It’s essentially about your point of view. Everything’s there already. The words exist in the world, my work consists of finding the perspective according to which reality will appear before us in this strange harmony that makes it possible.

Suite n°1 followed a principle of unison. Why have you reduced the chorus in Suite n°2 to a quintet? In this new project, you’ve superimposed some recordings, making different situations encounter one another. How does this more complex composition influence the dramaturgy of the piece?
Unison made sense in Suite n°1 as an elementary form of recitation, as the shared expression of certain types of words that in fact belong to everyone. Reciting in a chorus the message of a voice server or an excerpt from TV news is a way of collectively reappropriating them. For Suite n°2, I wanted to go back to an individual principle of speaking, as in Parlement (2009), but working differently on the choral nature of it. In music, harmony is the simultaneous coexistence of different sounds. Here it’s about getting different words to coexist, but no longer just in a successive montage as in our earlier pieces. There are times when we try to make them exist simultaneously, which produces something very new for me – forms of resonance that allow me to free myself from linear editing. It’s no longer about creating a third relationship out of two elements, but a whole host of possible relationships in terms of content, form and situations: their meaning becomes a shifting tonality, a complex agreement consisting of continually changing registers.

You’ve invited the composer Pierre-Yves Macé to work on this project. What was the collaboration like and where does the composition come in?
I wanted to accompany this harmonisation of words with a more literal musical harmonisation. Pierre-Yves Macé’s involvement in Encyclopédie de la parole goes back a long way. He was very actively involved at the start and produced lots of sound and radio pieces for us. The two of us also collaborated on Le vrai spectacle, for which he composed the music. For Suite n°2, I asked him to compose vocal arrangements and accompaniments for certain documents, and more generally to produce the ‘sound design’ for the piece. The use of music is firstly a way of emphasising certain formal characteristics of speech, but it can also be a way of shifting how they are heard, for example giving an ordinary word back its dignity, its grandeur even. Conversely, it’s sometimes a way of introducing irony to words that take themselves too seriously. All in all, I think the musical dimension of the piece helps find the right distance with regard to scenes that are often very emotionally or politically charged.

By choosing to reproduce the recordings identically, you’re showing a kind of respect of the original documents. What’s this respect about? What changes are you allowing?
It’s a question we ask each other all the time with the actors: we reproduce words that have all been spoken some time and somewhere in the world, with motivations that in part will remain inaccessible to us. But what does reproduce mean? What does that involve, slipping into someone’s voice and going over not just their words again, but their inflections, their particular rhythm, their breaths and their hesitations? What meaning does the notion of ‘respect’ have in that case? Paradoxically it’s by taking these words out of their original situation in which too many things came into play that we can hear them in all their reality. What theatre allows, I believe, is not to reproduce reality, but to make it real. It’s really hard to believe that the things we hear people talking about – the beheading of the Jordanian pilot, migrants drowning, the death of Michael Brown – are real. Really real. I may be naïve, but I believe theatre can help us – however shifts have to be found that are that effective. Starting with each word, a score is extracted by choosing the parameters we want to emphasise and the ones we want to ignore. You also have to decide on the way in which we’re going to work on how they are addressed: what effect is there of speaking words to an audience that were originally addressed to a single person? There’s no single strategy: for each set of words you have to find the best way of making what seems important to us heard. Sometimes you have to have a man’s words spoken by a woman, sometimes you have to say something individual to several people or change tone, sometimes you have to accompany it with singing, sometimes you have to superimpose others on it etc.

Of all the recordings that make up the score of Suite n°2, are there any that stand out?
One question I’m obsessed by is what is true when people speak? Words that are sincere, authentic and necessary? How can you distinguish them from all the superficial, fake, standardised and rambling collections of words? What specifically is needed for some words to suddenly and spontaneously appear that seem to fit completely with the situation that produces them? There are lots of words about rejection or rebellion in the piece, words in crisis, words that are cornered. What interests me is the contrast between words within a context and the words that break that context.

I thought of what Barthes wrote about Racine, that tragedy is merely a failure that is spoken. Did you find that dimension of theatre again unexpectedly when you were working on Suite n°2?
In a way, Suite n°2 is a sound portrait of our world, or at least of the world such as it reaches us through words, voices and languages. And it’s easy to see today’s world as the monumental failure of all the struggles and utopias it has gone through for, let’s say, two centuries. There’s definitely a pessimist dimension in the piece, but you can also draw some hope from the simple fact that some words remain alive, whether people say no, say perhaps, say I love you, say again. It’s certainly a very, very slender hope. The world has about as much chance of being saved as I do of winning the lottery. Or of life appearing on Earth. But life did appear, didn’t it? And people win the lottery every week.

Written by Marion Siéfert for the Festival d’Automne à Paris 2015
Translated to English by Claire Tarring

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Joris Lacoste was born in 1973 and now lives and works in Paris. He has been writing for theatre and radio since 1996 and producing his own shows since 2003. He created 9 lyriques pour actrice and caisse claire at the Laboratoires d’Aubervilliers in 2005, then Purgatoire at the Théâtre national de la Colline in 2007 where he is also associate writer. From 2007 to 2009 he was co-director of the Laboratoires d’Aubervilliers. He began two collective projects, the project W in 2004 and l’Encyclopédie de la parole in 2007, notably producing the soloParlement in 2009. In 2004 he launched the Hypnographie project to explore artistic uses of hypnosis: as part of this he produced the radio play Au musée du sommeil (France Culture, 2009), the exhibition-performance Le Cabinet d’hypnose (Printemps de Septembre in Toulouse, 2010), the play Le vrai spectacle (Festival d’Automne in Paris, 2011), the exhibition 12 rêves préparés (GB Agency Paris, 2012), the performance La maison vide (Far° Festival in Nyon, 2012), and 4 prepared dreams (for April March, Jonathan Caouette, Tony Conrad and Annie Dorsen) in New York in October 2012.

LʼEncyclopédie de la parole is an artistic project exploring the oral character in all its forms. Since 2007, this collective uniting musicians, poets, directors, visual artists, actors, sociolinguists and curators has been collecting various recordings of words and making an inventory of them on its website by their particular properties or phenomena such as cadence, chorality, timbre, address, saturation and melody. What do 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 or Lil Wayne, a message left on an answerphone, the questions of Julien Lepers, an Adventist sermon, the Young and the Restless in French, a speech by Léon Blum or Bill Clinton, an auction sale, a shamanic incantation, the declamations of Sarah Bernhardt, a speech for the defence by Jacques Vergès, a shampoo advert and conversations recorded in the local café have in common? Using this collection, which today comprises close to 800 sound documents, l’Encyclopédie de la parole produces sound pieces, performances and shows, lectures, games and exhibitions. In 2014, lʼEncyclopédie de la parole was made up of Frédéric Danos, Emmanuelle Lafon, Nicolas Rollet, Joris Lacoste, David Christoffel, Elise Simonet and Valérie Louys.

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