Thrills of the first gestures of theater, at the Cartoucherie de Vincennes, where Depart of fires takes place, a festival of young troupes that the director Ariane Mnouchkine welcomes in the rehearsal room of the Théâtre du Soleil. Five companies are invited. Which means five risk-takings and five reasons to go and rub shoulders with the hesitations, failures and flashes of a youth trying to mess up the sets.
Sébastien Kheroufi, a Franco-Algerian artist, thus offers a Antigone of Sophocles who does not revolutionize the art of representation and admits his infancy, but settles down and exposes himself with remarkable relevance.
Grazing lights on the dusty cement, wells of ocher stones, tufts of parched grass, the trunk of a broken tree that is dying. In this ancient and/or post-apocalyptic setting, no offense to her sister Ismene, Antigone opposes her iron will to the stubbornness of Creon. His brothers Etéocle and Polynice killed each other. The first is buried with honors when the second, for having betrayed the fatherland, is condemned by Creon not to have a burial. The king has spoken and he does not budge: he makes the law.
It is against this rigid, dominating and totalitarian certainty that Antigone rises up by offering her brother the funeral due to the deceased. She will end up immured alive at the bottom of a vault. Creon does not compromise with rebellion. When he arrives on stage, his large body dressed in military uniform, we think we recognize General de Gaulle. Him or someone else, it doesn’t matter. Sébastien Kheroufi sends a clear signal to the public: his show is a tribute to all colonized peoples forced to deny their values to embrace rules that are not theirs.
Audacity without fuss
But the young director also and above all thought of women. To his aunts, who remained in Algeria while his father chose to go to France. He thought, he writes, of Ukrainians, Iranians, Ethiopians, Congolese. To all those who have said, who say or will say no. So he slipped the words of Sophocles into the bodies of Angeline, Dykha, Yassmin, Yunika, all four met in an Emmaus home during a theater workshop. They form the choir. They sing, observe, comment on the action in Italian, Moldavian, Bassa, Wolof, Baoulé. With them, distance and otherness enter the scene. So many incentives to decenter oneself from one’s reality in the face of the final onslaught of foreign languages (a translation of the remarks is distributed at the exit).
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