“The theater learns to die… as much as to live” | EUROtoday

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HASn cinema, he’s presently recounting Molière's final day in a dreamlike and baroque function movie… At the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées, he’s directing the opera Boris Godunov by Mussorgsky (from February 28 to March 7). And on the Théâtre du Châtelet, of which he was appointed director final 12 months, he’s making ready the programming for subsequent season. For PointOlivier Py returns to this ample exercise.

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Point : Your new function movie, The imaginary Molière*, takes spectators behind the scenes of the Palais-Royal theater on February 17, 1673, a couple of minutes earlier than Molière died. How did the thought for this movie come about?

Olivier Py: Just a little over twenty years in the past, I had shot my first movie [Les Yeux fermés, en 2000, NDLR], a love story that blended cinema and theater. I then dreamed of with the ability to inform on the massive display screen the assembly of Rimbaud and Verlaine and, above all, their relationship. But I used to be unable to boost the funds. I don't despair of succeeding at some point, as a result of it's an vital challenge for me. For a few years, I gave up cinema to dedicate myself to different adventures combining theater, opera and writing novels. But, on the time of confinement, the need returned. It was when the theaters had been closed that I spotted that the determine of Molière concentrated a number of topics which can be near my coronary heart.

Which ?

The love of the stage first, the backstage of a theater then, in addition to the connection between artwork and politics, the “Grand Siècle”, the singular relationship which hyperlinks love and loss of life. I designed my Imaginary Molière like a reverie round these topics. But what mattered most to me was to make a considerably twilight movie. The pandemic then my departure from Avignon [Olivier Py a dirigé le festival de cette ville de 2013 à 2022, NDLR] certainly saddened me. Looking into the tragic destiny of Molière comforted me. He offers us a lesson in life and dignity. Until the final extremity, he performed his function magnificently and he staged, in a sure manner, his personal disappearance. His theater teaches us to die… as a lot as to reside.

Molière occupies a particular place in your life…

Yes. His face typically crosses my path. When I lived in Avignon, I lived in a home the place he had stayed [en 1655 et 1657, NDLR]. At the beginning of my performing profession, I actually performed Imaginary sick [en 1994, NDLR] in a manufacturing by Jean-Luc Lagarce. I used to be slightly over 20 years previous and I’ve very vivid reminiscences of this expertise as a result of Jean-Luc was on the finish of his life.

We did round 100 dates throughout France. I used to be a younger actor: I slipped into this function with relish, however the pleasure I felt in taking part in was tinged with unhappiness as a result of I noticed Jean-Luc decline. At the beginning, I puzzled if I wasn't going to inform this story exactly, this dramatic tour with Lagarce in agony. But the very historical past of the creation of Imaginary sickness and the loss of life of Molière ended up proving stronger. Especially since I used to be round Molière's age on the time of his loss of life once I wrote the screenplay.

READ ALSO Éric Ruf: “At the head of the Comédie-Française, I am a bit like a clinical manager…” What judgment do you make of the textual content of the Imaginary sickness ?

This piece is slightly distinctive in Molière's work. Because it's the final one. Because it’s not a big textual content like The Misanthrope or like Tartuffe. It's a farce which we really feel was written fairly rapidly, on this type of urgency which was undoubtedly made obligatory by its writer's instinct that he was nearing the tip. In this sense, it has one thing monstrous and sordid. She has one darkness worthy of Balzac.

Is it to convey this sordid facet that you’ve outrageously made up your actors, specifically a trio of disturbing marquises performed by Dominique Frot, Judith Magre and Catherine Lachens?

The thought of ​​make-up comes from the truth that, on the time, we went to the theater like we went to the carnival. Men and girls wore lots of make-up. The thought of ​​carnival appeared all of the extra vital to me since Molière died in the course of the carnival season. I’m completely satisfied that you just talked about these three fantastic actresses that I had the prospect to direct on this movie. I believe that they had lots of enjoyable making witch faces. Unfortunately, Catherine Lachens died shortly after filming ended.

If your movie known as The imaginary Molière, it’s as a result of few paperwork evoke his final moments. We are pressured to depend on fiction…

Yes. It's paradoxical that such an incredible writer has been the topic of so few books. You can learn the whole lot about Molière as a result of there’s not a lot written about him. He just isn’t the topic of a huge escort speech like Shakespeare, Rimbaud or Proust.

READ ALSO Cinema: Paul Mescal, incarnation of the brand new HollywoodYour screenplay locations nice emphasis on the love story that Molière would have had with the younger actor Michel Baron. What sources did you employ to tell this facet of the movie?

Molière's bisexuality is talked about in a number of books. The oldest hint is an nameless pamphlet from 1688 known as The Famous Actress. Since this date, a number of works have addressed this concept that Molière, though married to Armande Béjart, the daughter of his first spouse, by the way in which, was having an affair with this boy.

I don't discover this concept of ​​a menage a trois implausible. Especially since Casanova additionally writes it in his Memoirs. Homosexuality, at the moment, that’s to say earlier than Madame de Maintenon, was frequent amongst individuals of high quality. This doesn’t appear to pose any downside to the court docket. As evidenced by the gay adventures of Philippe d'Orléans, brother of Louis XIV, who was nicknamed “the dragonfly”.

READ ALSO Bertrand Bonello: “With “The Beast”, I wished to retrace a historical past of emotions” On display screen, you play the Marquis de Roffignac your self. How was this character born? Is this a nod to your co-writer Bertrand de Roffignac, who additionally performs the function of Baron?

This is principally linked to the truth that Bertrand was initially alleged to play this function. There are a number of little jokes like that within the movie. The two marquises who quarrel over which of the 2 is more likely to have impressed Molière are there to supply a form of mirror impact between his time and his performs, between the stage and the viewers. It is confirmed that the aristocrats competed for the glory of getting been caricatured by Molière.

Why did you shoot this movie in Avignon? Because you lived there within the mansion of the Count of Modena and he is likely one of the doable fathers of Armande Béjart, Molière's final spouse?

No manner. It's simply that I wished to shoot within the studio and there’s fantastic gear there, La FabricA, which I knew nicely. We constructed the set of a theater on a number of ranges as a result of I wished the movie to offer the phantasm of a protracted sequence shot the place we might stroll behind the scenes. On this level, I need to pay tribute to the expertise of my director of images, Luc Pagès, who did an exquisite job. All the extra distinctive since I instructed him that I wished the lighting to be performed, as on the time, solely by candle.

READ ALSO Theatre: 5 exhibits to not be missed in FebruaryThis setting that you just point out is designed by Pierre-André Weitz, who additionally performs the character of La Thorillière, a member of Molière's troupe…

Yes, Pierre-André creates a lot of the units for my exhibits. Between takes, he labored on these within the movie in costume!

You really feel a workforce spirit round you, like within the time of Molière. Is this what you wished?

This can also be linked to the tight funds of the manufacturing. A constraint which led us to shoot this movie in seventeen days however which in the end serves the aim. Molière continuously had cash issues. La Grange, who stored his troupe's account guide, wrote that the roof of his theater leaked when it rained as a result of he couldn’t pay roofers.

READ ALSO Joël Pommerat: “Theater must be as rhythmic as life” How did you’re employed to organize the digicam actions in such a small area?

We made a mannequin of the decor. It allowed us to seek out our manner. The actors had been thus capable of situate themselves and picture how they had been going to maneuver. Thanks to this lowered mannequin, we had been capable of work on digicam actions with a easy phone, notably upward actions. To do that, we had arrange a number of trapdoors to vary flooring. It was lots of enjoyable and, at one level, fairly labyrinthine. Especially since there have been no home windows. It was a request from Pierre-André, who instructed me: “I don’t want an opening! » To return to the sequence shot and without revealing everything, there are still some seams during door passages but also less visible transitions between scenes…

READ ALSO “Carmen” and “La Traviata”, similar combatYou will resume, in just a few days, the Boris Godunov** that you just created final fall on the Opéra du Capitole in Toulouse. What was the supply of inspiration for this staging of Modest Mussorgsky's work?

I summoned all of the Russian creativeness that I had gleaned once I went to Moscow for the primary time within the early Nineties, shortly after the autumn of the Berlin Wall. I do know little about Russia, don't communicate Russian. Of the fifty opera productions I’ve labored on, I consider it’s with The Queen of Spades [de Tchaïkovski, NDLR] the one one whose booklet I don't perceive. But it's a piece that I adored, which fascinated me and which I consider I grasped regardless of the whole lot. It have to be stated that its topic surprisingly resonates with present occasions.

When I began engaged on it three years in the past, Russia had not but attacked Ukraine. But this meditation on the violence of energy in Russia was no much less a scorching subject. It is an unimaginable dialogue between a individuals and their sovereign who’s a charlatan and who will himself be dethroned by one other charlatan. This reflection on politics is from all eras. At the identical time, I additionally didn't need to overly power the modern facet, which, from my perspective, imposes itself. So I didn't slip a Ukrainian flag on the set.

What are you able to inform us concerning the programming you’re placing collectively for the Théâtre du Châtelet, which you took over in the beginning of final 12 months?

It's nonetheless slightly early to speak about subsequent season's exhibits. I can simply let you know that every one music can have its place there: from rap to opera, together with jazz. I already stated that we’ll welcome Wretched in the beginning of the 12 months. This musical has been carried out everywhere in the world besides in Paris. We are going to restore this as a result of it’s a disgrace that this present drawn from French literature has not but been given right here.

This might be our first manufacturing on the Châtelet. I also can disclose to you that we’ll additionally host dancing. We may even create a spotlight devoted to classical music but in addition to city music. This will take the shape, subsequent spring, of a competition which is able to permit us to spill over onto the sq. and supply outside exhibits.

* The imaginary Molièreby Olivier Py, (France, 1h34), with Laurent Lafitte, Stacy Martin, Jeanne Balibar… in theaters since February 14.

**Boris Godunov, by Modest Mussorgsky based mostly on Pushkin's play, on the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées from February 28 to March 7. Musical course: Andris Poga, with Alexander Roslavets, Victoire Bunel, Lila Dufy, Svetlana Lifar…, the Orchester nationwide de France, the choir of the Opéra nationwide du Capitole and the mastery of Hauts-de-Seine.