What inspires you to write?
Many things … My questions, my angers, my dreams, my doubts. All I that I do not understand, everything that escapes me. The complexity of human beings, their mysteries, their darker sides. The vitality of contradictions within every individual. Also history, the relationship between small and great history. The relationship between the individual and the collective, the inner self and politics – and vice versa. Historical amnesia, lies. …
PF: Where did the idea for this play come from?
NF: Out There was born two years after writing Les Descendants, a short piece that I had been commissioned by the Comedie Francaise in 2007. In Les Descendants, I wanted to tackle the fluctuating, irrational relationship one has with money, within a contemporary upper middle class French family. A year later, the financial crisis of autumn 2008 bursts into a series of extraordinary twists, like a play performed on a global scale. The project of Out There was born… what began as Les Descendant became the first scene of Out There. The idea was to reveal the contradictions of people who, though relatively wealthy, are confused in their desires and aspirations, struck by a fear of loss, uncertain about the future… Through the 2008 financial crisis, an historical event, I felt I was going to be able to talk about many different crises of the Western world. I felt that this allowed me to change the scale, from the macro to the micro, from the collective to the individual. I knew I would enjoy searching for, and unveiling the dynamic between these perspectives, while remaining non-judgmental about the characters. Hence the original idea and desire: to create a kind of photograph or picture of an epic-tragicomedy of our time that was dying from dullness.
PF: How do you want the play to affect the audience?
NF: The writing scheme was to create a theatrical mirror, so that viewers might recognize themselves, and identify, if not with the situation, at least with one of the characters. So that if they didn’t recognize themselves, then let it be their neighbor, their sister, their brother, their colleague, their friends… So that the stage and the audience are brought together in a collective We, the We of a common present. The desire to laugh and scream together, at ourselves: our contradictions, our dreams, our fears, our pettiness and our greatness, and to enjoy ourselves, for the duration of a play, and let that very enjoyment create drama. I want the audience to be presented with what they experience, what they live, and with the confusion of present times, without being stuck or “sentenced” to that reality. I want them to identify while simultaneously engaged in the fiction – because only fiction can give shape to reality.
What do you hope to learn and develop about the play through bringing it to an English-speaking audience?
This is my first experience hearing a play in English. First times are valuable. So I am not making any projections, but I deeply rejoice being able to experience this moment. I already heard the play in a language other than mine, and what is more, a language I speak and I love. What will be the result, what will I learn, discover…? Only the feedback from actors, translators, and audiences will tell me that. I cannot anticipate this encounter. I also hope that this is a first step, and that the rest will follow: artistic encounters which give rise to desires, a production, a performance of the play in the United States … who knows? Or other surprises.
What inspires you to write?
Many things … My questions, my angers, my dreams, my doubts. All I that I do not understand, everything that escapes me. The complexity of human beings, their mysteries, their darker sides. The vitality of contradictions within every individual. Also history, the relationship between small and great history. The relationship between the individual and the collective, the inner self and politics – and vice versa. Historical amnesia, lies. The beauty of the world too. The strangeness. The emergence of poetry in the heart of everyday life. Dreams, the freedom of their structure, their insane and implacable logic. The movement of language; the rhythm, music, and imaginary power in words, the multiple meanings, the landscapes. In this world where the image as taken power, the power of words still inspires me. Words, in that they alone can say and name.
How do you deal with writing blocks?
There are times in my life when I write. There are times when I do not write. In the moments when I’m not writing, I experience things, I work in theaters, I read, I wander, I travel, I direct actors, I teach, I let myself dream what I would write. In the moments when I write, I write, I cut, cut again, rewrite, I deal with the actual writing in its most concrete aspects. I accept that things take the time they need to be born, to take shape, to reshape, to build themselves. I believe in movement, in energy, in substance. I am also patient. I think that one must devote time to things, the time they need. Each object has an artistic need, a specific time. I try to listen to the nature of each project, each desire.
What play do you wish you had written and why?
My next play! I have no idea of what it will be or look like, and I can’t wait to see it!