The silence before the hurricane. At 10 am, La FabricA theater is very quiet. The first spectators arrive with coffee in hand, almost ready for the theatrical epic they are about to experience. “It was a maximum of three hours. I had never seen a show that long.”‘ says Agathe, stretching one last time before finding her place. Until July 16, Le K of young director Simon Falguières settled at the Avignon Festival to present their new creation: The Ash nestA thirteen hour theatrical epic. The format dare it for the first time. “I am convinced that length is common. It opens up to a sequential structure, to the recurring characters with which we associate ourselves”The director’s explanation to our colleagues from Releasea few days ago.
Simone Valgier is 34 years old and has been dreaming of this show for several years. “My mother is a French teacher at Breton College. One day, she said to me, ‘I have discovered some children who no longer know fairy tales. These children seem emotionally lost. This observation affected me deeply’.”, He says. As he was finishing his training in the free class at Cours Florent, a teacher offered him to lead the last course of training. From this stream were the first lines of this show, which he plays with his company for two consecutive summers in a park in Charente and today at the Festival In d’Avignon.
11:00 sharp. The audience enters and floods half of the great hall. Young woman wearing a long dress of the same velvet that resembles a stage curtain walking blindfolded. Sarah will be accompanied by her storyteller father. During these thirteen hours, she will set the pace, announce the breaks, and count the audience to see those who had the courage to stay and those who did not. “Tonight we’ll talk about a fruit. An apple cut in two, into two worlds. Two worlds are like halves floating on the circumference of a jam bowl.”, she declares, standing on a chair, her arm outstretched. It narrates the birth of two children, Gabriel and Anne. According to the prophecy, the first will become king. Second, she is already a princess. They do not live in the same country but are nonetheless destined to find each other to save a world on the brink of chaos.
To execute this perfect piece, seventeen representatives on Fabrica’s boards of directors are busy. They play about sixty characters in total and wear over 200 outfits. In this universe we meet strangers: Françoise, the former President of the Republic turned fortuneteller or argan, the insane leader of a traveling troupe, passionate about classical theater.
To attract the audience for a long time, many components are needed. No problem for Simone Valguerre who knows the recipe by heart: the characters are endearing, move us and make us laugh. They sing, run, shout, dance and play music. The scenography, too, does not cease to surprise us. In a split second we leave the ornate castle of the King and Queen to the stage of the campaigns. Then a grim hospital vault of the luminous paths of an enchanted forest.
midday. Take an hour break to eat and breathe. “You can have breakfast and have some food.”Sarah the narrator screams and slips through the curtain. “But stay! The deepest part of our journey is yet to come.”. A food cart in front of the stage helps the hungry. “I feel like I’m watching a series!”Says Mary who is sitting at a small table eating her salad. “We take breaks in between each episode but we follow them because we definitely want to know the next step.”. In the grass, some take a nap. “It is tiring to be a spectator. Sitting still for thirteen hours is also a feat!”Maxim breathes, sunglasses on his nose, ready to sleep for a few minutes. In fact, the show lasts not exactly thirteen hours, but nine, not counting the pauses. Every hour, the viewer can take a break of at least fifteen minutes.
Cinderella, Romeo and Juliet, Antigone… Ash nest He draws many references from literature to fuel his story. Don’t you know the 123 writings of Sophocles? not a problem. “I don’t know you but my life is like your work. You are in me thanks to my story”Princess Anne is reassured when she meets William Shakespeare, Homer, and Sophocles in Limbaugh. Borrowings from this show are eclectic and sometimes very modern, such as those stolen from the letters of François Hollande or the songs of Serge Gainsbourg.
midnight. The audience stands and applauds the tired but happy actors. With the exception of a few starts after the lunch break, all the spectators rose to the challenge. Yvonne struggled to keep her eyes open after the show only started for 20 minutes. “I don’t know how, I’ll keep working”, She told us. “Maybe these long formats are no longer my life”. However, at the time of the salutation, she was the first to stop and applaud. “Once the first hour was over, I was finally ready for the next hours!”enjoys leaving the show. “I really got attached to the characters, it really hurts my heart to leave them!”.
The Nest of Ashes, directed by Le K, directed by Simon Falguières – July 13, 15 and 16, 2022 (1 pm) – La FabricA – 11 rue Paul Achard