Isma’il Ibn Conner
David Bradby and Maria Delgado
Giulio Lichtner and Arthur Nauzyciel
Christophe Delarue and Giulio Lichtner
Off stage recorded voice
Seven Stages (Atlanta), Compagnie 41751/Arthur Nauzyciel, CDDB - Théâtre de Lorient, Centre Dramatique National, Etant Donnés/The French-American Fund for the Performing Arts (CulturesFrance) and Centre Dramatique National/Orléans/Loiret/Centre.
“One occasionally discovers places that are a kind of metaphor for life or an aspect of life, or something that I find to be serious and obvious such as, for instance, the rivers in Conrad’s work that climb back up into the jungle ... My play may be a bit about France and the white man : something seen from afar, displaced, sometimes becomes easier to decipher...”
The body of a black labourer has gone missing from a French construction site in Africa, and the lives of four characters will never be the same again. Without the dead man’s body, Koltès’s characters are left facing an empty grave, unable to mourn properly. They have only words to fill the void.
I created Black Battles With Dogs in Atlanta.
The earth there is red, and the city itself is black and white, a perpetual work-in-progress since the era of its historical clashes and devastating fires. A city on edge, haunted by its dead. A city where memory is relentlessly erased, even as it is being unearthed. From the Civil War to the civil rights movement that put an end to racial segregation (70,000 African Americans lynched in 70 years), from Margaret Mitchell to Martin Luther King, from Gone with the Wind to Deliverance, the city of Coca-Cola and CNN continues to tremble and struggle. The initial creation of Black Battles With Dogs in Atlanta went hand in hand with an awareness of the city’s unique political and artistic heritage. What came as a surprise to me was how the process of introducing Koltès’s work to an American public entailed a rediscovery of the playwright himself. This was possible precisely because we found ourselves in a different place, with a different resonance.
We discovered Koltès through his confrontation with another language, other bodies, and a different world. Over there, the whispered breath of one who has died but been denied a burial tells me a story of the Other, of Love and of Abandon.
Two years later, the vivid memory of the Twin Towers crumbling to dust made this urgent and desperate quest for a body to grieve even more palpable for both actors and public alike.
© Frédéric Nauczyciel
Download: interview of Arthur Nauzyciel by Jean François Perrier, Avignon Festival 2006