WHERE’S THE VA-VA-VOOM?
(Marie Winckler’s article appeared in the Guardian, 3/23.)
Last week, I was having a conversation about theatre with a friend from Belgium. It was striking how much excitement there seems to be in Belgian theatre at the moment: directors experimenting with form, young actors bringing cool back to the stage. She described a company called Panach'club whose silent show Nothing has made a big splash, and the National Improv League's last irreverent piece – and of course the experimental company Ontroerend Goed, who have a significant fanbase outside their home country. In fact, it had been a long time since I'd heard anyone speak so enthusiastically about theatre, because for as long as I can recall – like many French people my age – I've always vaguely associated theatre with mandatory cultural education. High school students over the country learn about l'art de Molière by studying their way through the 17th-century repertoire, then it's on to the théâtre de l'absurde. We are asked to write essays so academic that there was no space left for personal responses, still less pleasure. When I got to college, I continued going to the theatre, yet something was wrong – I couldn't name a single young playwright who wasn't the latest novelist-turned-actor-slash-performance artist.
FIVE FRENCH DRAMATISTS YOU SHOULD KNOW
(Michael Billington’s article appeared 3/21.)
We seem to have a love-hate relationship with French drama. We occasionally revive Racine and Corneille while sniffing airily at the way such neo-classic drama rigidly observes the unities. We also periodically dip into French farce while tut-tutting at its dubious taste, especially all those Feydeau jokes about stuttering and cleft palates. Temperamentally, I suspect we feel much closer to Russian and German drama than we do to its French counterpart. The vogue for everything French (plays, movies, fashion) seems to have faded. But it shouldn't be that way. Here are five dramatists at whom we should take another look.
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