The 2012 Des Voix Festival…Found in Translation is over, and it was a great success. But it’s not totally over. As previously posted, the Des Voix Festival, was recorded and streamed live on #NEWPLAYTV. The Bal Litteraire: New Play Nightclub and the Two Part Des Voix Colloquium were recorded and streamed live.
If you missed the live streaming of either of these events or would like to see them over and over and over and over again, then the good folks at #NEWPLAYTV have archived the video so you may watch it over and over and over again.
All the videos of the Bal and the Colloquium can her found: here
By CHLOE VELTMAN
“Lies like truth”
Writer & Broadcaster
May 27, 2012
There are times when it’s good to go into a cultural happening with a strong sense of what one’s letting oneself in for and there are times when a lack of knowledge provides the best possible ammo.
I had no idea what to expect when I showed up on Friday evening at Z Space Theatre in San Francisco’s Mission district for an event that the French consulate, which hosted the soiree, was calling “Un Bal Litteraire.” I didn’t bother to read much about it. The short description that Ivan Bertoux, the Deputy Cultural Attaché for the French consulate here in San Francisco, gave me a few weeks ago was enough to pique my interest: “It’s a new play nightclub,” Ivan simply said.
I had a ball at The Bal. It was one of the most unusual and gratifying arts experience I’ve had in a while, in fact. Why? Because the entire auditorium — audience and performers alike — danced. A lot.
Never has a night at the theatre been so communal…and so incredibly sweaty.
Here’s how The Bal bounced:
Three French playwrights — Marion Aubert, Nathalie Fillion and Samuel Gallet — arrived in San Francisco earlier this week to take part in a Franco-American drama festival entitled Des Voix: Found in Translation. Productions of their plays are being produced in town this weekend.
The Bal was the kickoff event for the festival. To prepare for the happening, which has been produced several times in Europe in recent years but has never before now been experienced by US audiences, the playwrights participated in what might best be described as a “theatrical hackathon.”
Six dramatists — the three French visitors plus American playwrights Marcus Gardley, Octavio Solis and Liz Duffy Adams — gathered on Wednesday afternoon with a bunch of their favorite songs at their disposal. They came up with a storyline involving San Francisco and a set-list of ten songs that they felt best described the story, and would encourage people to get up off their seats and boogie.
Then, over the next 24 hours, each playwright developed a section of the narrative. They reconvened to read the pieces out loud together. After that meeting, the French writers’ pieces were sent off to a team of (caffeinated!) translators to be turned into English overnight. The translators included Dan Harder, Aubrey Gabel and Ivan Bertoux.
On Friday evening, a crowd of at least a hundred people showed up at Z Space for the Bal. A line of microphones had been set up on an otherwise empty stage. Some audience members sat in the regular seats out front. Others of us sat in chairs to the side of the stage, flanking the mics.
After introductions, the playwrights assembled on stage (as pictured above) and started doing a reading of the new play they’d just created. As soon as the first scene ended, the music started. A few people rushed the stage. With about 30 seconds, most of the audience was up on its feet, shaking around to the pop song that was booming through the theatre’s the sound system.
When we sat down again and the dramatists returned to the microphones to continue with their reading, most of us didn’t bother returning to our seats. We sat on stage.
The dance party occurred throughout the evening because each of the ten scenes in the play was interspersed with a song. The styles ranged from rock to pop to hip-hop and were all equally compelling to move to.* After the closing scene (which saw the protagonist, a young French woman, and her lesbian lover from San Francisco, going happily off together into the sunset) there was yet more dancing. And then we all repaired, breathless and happy, to a very sweaty reception in the Z Space lobby.
Not only was the incorporation of the dancing a wonderfully absurd addition to an evening of play-going and fitted well with the quirky, feelgood comedy being narrated on stage, but it also helped to break up the action and melt traditional barriers that usually separate the performers and audience members. Plus it was simply great to let off some steam.
One doesn’t usually go to the theatre to lose weight. But burning calories is clearly a natural consequence of attending A Bal Litteraire.
*For some reason I’m having trouble recalling the song titles from the evening today. The Cyndi Lauper hit, “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” was one of the tracks. The rest will hopefully come back to me soon. Or I’ll ask Ivan for the set-list and post that at some point…
by Emily-Jane Cohen
Translator of Out There (along with Michelle Haner)
This week has been intense and amazing. It’s been a treat to be there as Amy (and Nathalie) work with the actors and to continue to learn about Nathalie’s vision of the play and its staging. Last night’s Bal was such a success. It surpassed expectations: the energy of the actors, the public, and all the festival folks was tremendous and it was a joy to be a part of the collaboration by bouncing around on the dance floor. The playwrights really meshed, and not only as writers, but (and I take this to be part of the exceptional status of it all)as performers. I can’t wait to get to the readings!
In preparation for the Des Voix Festival, we were able to round up some special production photos of one of our three plays, Out There (A L’Ouest) by Nathalie Fillion. As described by Lauren Gallagher in an article about Des Voix in the San Francisco Examiner, Out There ”exposes a family dealing with multiple divorces thrown into greater crisis by the 2008 recession, and circumstances complicated by a patriarch high on antidepressants and a grandfather with Alzheimer’s”.
Before all three plays, Out There, Communiqué N°10, and Pride, Pursuit, and Decapitation, came to America for the Des Voix Festival they were having full productions in France. Luckily for us, we were able to get our hands on some production photos of the full French production of Out There. Enjoy! (more…)
A short interview with Des Voix playwright Marion Aubert
In the midst of rehearsals and hustle and bustle of the lead up to the Festival, we at Playwrights Foundation sat down with Marion Aubert, playwright of Pride, Pursuit, and Decapitation for a short interview.
What inspires you to write and create your characters?
Everything is liable to become a source of inspiration. A book, a scene in every day life, a memory. The scene of the “fat whore” was inspired both by a dead drunk couple in a train and by a writer-friend’s play… (more…)
How do you want the play to affect the audience?
I hope that audience members will be able to hear the differences in the points of view that drive the play, [to see] that things are many-sided. I would like them to see what is at stake in my theater, more than a denunciation of a global political system… (more…)
by Samuel Gallet
Playwright, Communiqué N°10
I write. On the difficulty of inhabiting this world, of orienting oneself in it, of relating to it, on this general sense of being in a gradually unreal world, on the indifference of some to the lives of others that coexist in the same time, on the unhealthy fear of conflict and violence in an essentially violent society, on the tension between resignation and attempted emancipation. That’s what I am writing about, that’s where I am writing from. From even more than about.The contemporary world is described and lived in my plays like a transition period where one story ends before another hardly begins. The industrial wastelands on the outskirts of cities and other urban ghettos which are often found in my work are more than just a realistic setting to express myself, they are a place of ruin where there is nothing really recognizable or viable, a place where abuse reigns, where one wanders aimlessly – and yet, are the place where everything can still be re-invented, re-named, invoked, a vacuum into which forms can be reborn. A fallow landscape where the old dies and the new remains hypothetical. The beings that inhabit my plays are spinning in circles, and are incapable of escaping, stuck between expectations and this sense of general breakdown. They are characters on the margins, excluded from history, lost in history, having no history, orphans and beggars of an actual historical experience, in the limbo of permanent present are try to find ways of taking over the world, are trying to find a place where they can be. (more…)
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. …
By Kimberly Jannarone
Translator of Pride, Pursuit, and Decapitation
“All those monologues!”
This was the cry I sent up while reading a shelf-full of French plays last year, during the play selection process for Des Voix. In play after play, language was pouring out of characters’ mouths in page-long speeches. Sure, there was Beckett, sure Heiner Müller, sure any number of other precursors in the realm of language-as-dramatic-action, but that shelf-full of plays was telling me something new. Language. The French language. A volcano of French language was erupting. (more…)