August 30, 2017

“Seuls en Scène” French Theater Artists on Stage

FRENCH THEATER FESTIVAL: “Seuls en Scène” French Theater Festival begins with Nicolas Truong’s “Interview,” featuring Judith Henry and Nicolas Bouchaud, on September 15 and 16 at 8 p.m. at the Matthews Acting Studio, 185 Nassau Street. (Photo by Mathilde Priolet)

Princeton University’s Lewis Center for the Arts, Department of French and Italian, and L’Avant-Scène will present the sixth annual Seuls en Scène French Theater Festival, which will take place from September 15 to 30 at venues across the University’s campus. Some performances will be in English, while others will be in French with English subtitles; all are free and open to the public.

Seuls en Scène ushers in the 17th season of L’Avant-Scène, a French theater troupe of Princeton students. It also celebrates professional theatrical achievements from the past year: many of the invited artists to Seuls en Scène are prominent contributors to contemporary theater in France. The festival is organized by Florent Masse, senior lecturer in the department of French and Italian and director of L’Avant-Scène.

The festival begins with Nicolas Truong’s Interview, featuring Judith Henry and Nicolas Bouchaud, on September 15 and 16 at 8 p.m. at the Matthews Acting Studio, 185 Nassau Street. Interview has a special tie to Princeton: its first rehearsals occurred during Seuls en Scène 2015 with space provided by the University. Since its local beginnings, Interview has grown into a well-reviewed play. It debuted at the 2016 Avignon Theater Festival and continued with a successful French tour. In the play, Judith Henry and Nicolas Bouchaud take turns answering the interview questions that saturate our media. They become politicians, artists, and athletes in turn, all trying to avoid tropes and keep their responses true.

Tiago Rodrigues will present his play, By Heart, on September 22 and 23 at 8 p.m. Mr. Rodrigues was recently appointed the youngest-ever artistic director of Portugal’s national theater, the Teatro Nacional D. Maria II Lisboa. Appropriately, he chooses as his subject the nonlinear transmission of knowledge between generations: a blind grandmother asks her grandson to read her a book so that she may learn it by heart. Mr. Rodrigues uses ten audience volunteers to participate in the reading and learning of that text, making them complicit in the text’s fiction — and in the situation’s reality.

Olivier Py, current artistic director of the Avignon Theater Festival, makes his Princeton debut directing Prométhée Enchaîné and Les Suppliantes, two pieces inspired by Aeschylus’s original text and separated by a short intermission. They will be performed at the Butler College Amphitheater on September 23 at 2 p.m. and September 24 at 5 p.m. Mr. Py first presented the pieces at the 2016 Avignon Theater Festival. The plays, about a god who breaks the rules by giving man art and fire, have since toured France.

On September 26 and 27 at 8 p.m. in the Matthews Acting Studio, Dorothée Munyaneza presents Unwanted. She performs her work in English and investigates the women of the Rwandan genocide, their stories, the rape they experienced, and the fate of the female body. Unwanted is Ms. Munyaneza’s second work. She enlists South African visual artist Bruce Clarke, composer Alain Mahé, and Afro-American musician Holland Andrews to tell her story with song and dance where words begin to fail; by telling a personal story, she offers dignity to those who suffered anonymously without.

Portrait(s) Foucault—Letzlove by Pierre Maillet will play at the Matthews Acting Studio on September 28 and 29 at 8 p.m. Mr. Maillet uses a book of conversations between philosopher Michel Foucault and young hitchhiker Thierry Voetzel, who was at first unaware of his driver’s identity. Together, they discuss the main topics of summer 1975, namely new attitudes toward family, drugs, and music. What starts as a text about Thierry becomes a portrait of Foucault, and an innocuous narrative becomes a study of revolution. Mr. Maillet is currently supported by the Comédie de Caen and the Comédie de Saint-Étienne, and Portrait(s) Foucault—Letzlove debuted in the 2016-17 theater season to critical acclaim.

Guillaume Vincent presents Myrrha, an excerpt from his recent show, Songes et Métamorphoses, on September 30 at 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. at the Whitman College Class of 1970 Theater. He tells the story of several Ovidian myths as they are understood by high schoolers who learn about them in school. In the students’ eyes, the myths take on existential meaning that redefines the bounds of performance.

On October 7 at 4 p.m., L’Avant-Scène will present key scenes from Jean Racine’s Phaèdra in a new translation by Princeton senior Marc Decitre as part of A Festival of the Arts that will celebrate the opening of the new Lewis Arts complex. The opening festival will run from October 5 through 8 at the arts complex and venues throughout the campus and will feature dozens of performances, concerts, readings, exhibitions, screenings, master classes, jam sessions, lectures, and other events open to the public, most of them free.

Further information about L’Avant-Scène can be found atène.