At the Spring of comedians, David Bobée shares his fairground and political vision of the monster "Peer Gynt"!

At the Spring of comedians, David Bobée shares his fairground and political vision of the monster “Peer Gynt”!

The director of the Théâtre du Nord, CDN Lille-Tourcoing, David Bobée, offers a daring, energetic and fairground reading of “Peer Gynt”, the world-work of Enrik Ibsen. This is the last major event of the 36th edition of the Spring of the actors, not to be missed on Friday and Saturday, at the amphitheater of O. Explanations by the director.

What made you want to take on “Peer Gynt”, this monster work?

Perhaps precisely the fact that he is a monster, that he is literally unmountable… Enrik Ibsen confessed to his friends during his writing that he himself did not understand what he was doing. write but it was great! Peer Gynt, it’s 70 characters and 50 different sets, you travel throughout your life, and all around the world… This represents so many absolutely fascinating challenges for the director and scenographer that I am. Show the imaginary world, and Ibsen, and his character, it’s something very joyful. This piece calls for a collective energy, each actor must assume several roles. It’s a kind of honest lie, which joins the theater that I love, of the troupe, which takes the public into a story that is invented live.

You say “joyful” but is the story really?

All the same ! It’s very whimsical, there’s a lot of humor, absurdity, invention. It is an initiatory journey, certainly strange, but initiatory despite everything.

But you know the concept of the “hero’s journey”, of Joseph Campbell’s “monomyth”: at the end of the stages of his quest, the hero is transformed by the experience and, on the strength of this, can improve the world…

This is what is brilliant in the initiatory course of Peer Gynt, in his kind of heroic epic, it is that he does not come back “full of use and reason”! (laughs) He ends his journey exactly where he started, and in the state where he started it. He had embarked on this adventure to escape his social condition, his mental conditioning. On his journey, Peer Gynt is constantly lying to everyone, including his mother and himself, but what is very beautiful is that what he describes with his lies, takes birth before his eyes. Peer Gynt, in fact, is theater unto itself! This ability, through imagination, through words, to create worlds and give them shape and life. Each scene is constructed like this: he lies, he imagines a world, characters participate in the illusion, his dream turns into a nightmare, and he always ends up breaking his neck. What is true for each scene, is also true for his entire journey: Peer Gynt never learns anything. He is in the eternal fall of himself within himself. One can even wonder if he only moved from his home, or if his trip is not the pure product of his imagination!

He lies, he lies, he lies, and yet reveals to us something of the world, and perhaps of today…

Indeed, Ibsen uses Norwegian fables, distant or imaginary worlds, the desert, the sea, etc. to talk about his time, his country. All of Act 2 takes place in the world of trolls; it is an evocation of Scandinavian folklore but also, above all, a caricature of the Norwegians whom he found too inward-looking, in the rejection of others, intolerant. Through these trolls, he allows himself a harsh criticism of his contemporaries. Ibsen went on a trip himself and what he discovered of the world was that elsewhere, well, it was no better… I find that Ibsen really has this rare ability to capture his era: we are at the end of slavery but at the beginning of another way of enslaving men, colonialism, and he reflects this very well at the beginning of act 4. And of course, just as he relied on the imagination of his time to talk about his time, I use Ibsen’s work to talk about mine.

Trolls make it possible to evoke the rise of conservatism, extremism…

Without wanting to modernize the subject at all costs, my trolls are bleached, wear imaginary nationalist insignia, and facing them, Peer Gynt is played by Radouan Leflahi, who is of Berber origin… The trolls tell him that he must that he too becomes a troll and that, for that, he must take off his clothes, adopt their customs, taste their gastronomy, swear allegiance to their values… Above all, they say, you have to be self-sufficient- even, that you stop trying to find out who you are… Today, in the prefecture, nothing else is asked of newcomers…

Why did you choose to stage this course in a carnival?

To represent the unrepresentable, I had to appeal to the public’s imagination. I needed a place of common imagination, in a way, and the carnival sends us all back to childhood, to pleasure, to leisure, and to joy; which has everything to do with Peer Gynt. And like him, this carnival is damaged, abandoned. Like a hangover. Like after the party is over. It is the remnant of a past pleasure. In the silhouette of the roller coaster, Peer Gynt can imagine the Norwegian peaks, an old rotten caravan can represent the mother’s home, etc. With such a setting, thanks to the acting, the lights, you can go far, change the world! In addition, it corresponds to the character’s lifeline, made up of big ups and downs.

As luck would have it, you performed “Peer Gynt” the same evening that Philippe Decouflé premiered “Stereo” at Montpellier Danse. However, you have in common to strife the borders between styles, genres, forms… to be transdisciplinary…

Where to begin to answer you? I didn’t go to theater school. I learned it in contact with the actors. Besides, I’m delighted to play in a festival called the Printemps des acteurs and actresses! I didn’t have a precise idea of ​​what theater should be, but I was interested in the people who were on the set, but fully, that is to say in their ability to understand the dramaturgy but also in the remains, in their entirety, of what their body was the sign, and how the movement of their body in space produced meaning. So I started writing movement in space, moving towards choreographed, danced theatre. Then I met the circus, which still remains one of the markers of my theater today… In short, my approach has never been governed by a strict, circumscribed vision of theatre. For me, the horizons of the theater are almost infinite. My shows go from the great classical repertoire to a very sharp and precise little contemporary thing, from a huge Wagnerian opera to a staging in a classroom, from the circus without text to music without words… I ride like that because I’m not in the application of know-how, it does not interest me. I need to discover, to learn, to move, from continent to continent, from discipline to discipline… I like to make hybrid objects that resemble the era in which we live; a time when, when the walls come down, well, it’s better, where ideas and people circulate without being stopped by artificial borders…

What seems playful turns out to be very political!

I try to make this theater in the forms, to be in an extremely political place, because transdisciplinarity is eminently political, of course! It’s doing theater with everything but also with and for everyone! When we give Peer Gynt, some come for Ibsen, others perhaps forced by their teachers, but in the end they applaud the same object, the same pretext for their meeting. The little lady will perhaps have appreciated the rediscovered vitality of Ibsen, while the kid of North African origin will have felt that the show was addressed to him through this character embodied by an actor from diversity. He will have felt represented, symbolically he will feel that he has a place in his country and potentially a leading role. Finally, here it is, the form is political, and what is at stake behind great repertoire theatre, behind an epic like this, is the idea of ​​a common culture in the process of being written.

“Peer Gynt” by Enrik Ibsen, by David Bobée, on Friday June 17 and Saturday June 18, at 10 p.m., at the O amphitheater, in Montpellier. €15 to €36. 04 67 63 66 67.

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