With “Memory of a Girl”, director Silvia Costa explores the deceptive nature of memory

Clotilde de Bayser, Coraly Zahonero and Anne Kessler, in

A woman talks to herself. She vows herself. Nothing abnormal: it is multiple and therefore diffracted, on the stage of the Vieux-Colombier, in Paris, in the body of three solid actresses, Clotilde de Bayser, Anne Kessler and Coraly Zahonero. This woman has been speaking for three periods or three life experiences: the young girl who, in 1958, had her first – and calamitous – sexual relationship when she was a summer camp counsellor; the novelist who writes the story of the young girl (the story is published in 2016); the woman who projects this intimate confession towards a social and political perspective while settling accounts with an intrusive mother on the way. Annie Ernaux is the author who remembers Annie Duchesne (her birth name) in this girl memorywritten in the singular on the cover of his book (published by Gallimard) but which could be considered in the plural.

Also listen Annie Ernaux, portrait of a struggling writer

Adapted for the theatre, the text becomes a series of shifts from one state to another. He connects facts and details to their recollection and their analysis, he connects past and present, he articulates between them voices that pass on the relay of the narration. Subtle braiding for a falsely serene show that harbors real brutality: the humiliation experienced by Annie Ernaux had physical and psychological consequences. The expression of this violence goes a bit by the wayside, too bad.

Holding the helm of this return to oneself, Silvia Costa acts as a visual artist and musician more than she operates as a director. It does not illustrate the point. It does not aim for its incarnation by the performers. It banishes the expressiveness of their utterance, it evacuates the emotions of a game that wants to be neutral. She seeks to translate, through the arrangement of space and the use of sound, the subterranean processes of an anamnesis (the opposite of amnesia) and the complexity of a figure which reconstructs itself between the fragmented, scattered and crushed.

Continuous erase

This approach materializes in a tray inhabited by the inanimate objects (stones, strings, dried flowers, glasses, etc.) handled by the three members of the French converted into mistresses of an enigmatic ceremony.

Nothing is fixed. Neither the bodies that are constantly moving, nor the costumes removed barely put on, nor the scenic elements brought in and then removed to be replaced by new ones. Only the frame does not vary: three bluish walls with their openings in the form of large horizontal or vertical loopholes. Between the walls, the perpetual movement creates a curious impression of continuous erasure. And prevents anything (image, idea, sensation) from becoming fixed, with clarity and certainty, in the perception of the public.

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