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Passés (Veillée d'armes)
Laurent Contamin
Actes du théâtre n° 47.[ imprimer ]
The Solstice celebration is coming up, like it does every year in June at this seaside resort in northern France. But this year some new factors have changed the playing field. First, police roundups of illegal immigrants have escalated around the port and the Tunnel, the new mayor wants to highlight the “heritage” aspect of the event, and above all old Jean-Baptiste has disappeared. Was he kidnapped? Did he run away? Is he in trouble? His son, in charge of Tunnel security, and his granddaughter, who sometimes hears voices, go off to find him. Strata from the past resurface here - both a border area and a place “in the middle of nowhere” - jeopardizing the present and its security bias.

“(…) His most distinctive sign shows in the way he blends material that is incredibly diverse, profuse and varied. It’s hard to pinpoint his style of theater from the kinds of tales he tells. They draw their inspiration from human interest stories, geopolitics, African myths and the history of science. Whatever the story, the playwright manages to bring out the themes his world is made of: his philosophy of perception, topics such as the body, illness and especially otherness. For Emmanuel Levinas ‘‘the Other’s face is the true source of philosophy,’’ and for Laurent Contamin it appears to be the true source of his plays.”
Jörn Cambreleng, Carnet de lecture n°14 d’Aneth, 2008

“It’s very rare for a playwright to work on present-day history and talk about mankind’s current situation with respect to politics and capitalist society.”
Urszula Mikos, La Terrasse, January 2007

Radio production in progress for France Culture.

Characters : 4 women - 1 men -

MYRIAM I know where Grandfather is. (Claire and Jean stop, dumbfounded. A long beat ) The silence is beautiful. It’s like a park after it rains, when the sun starts shining again on the wet trees. The world is transformed by the sun. And you are too. Your faces separated from your words bear witness to the beauty of the world and creation.
JEAN Where is he?
MYRIAM I was thinking about something. One day journalists will come and ask you questions about me: how you dealt with my vocation, what it’s like to be the parents of a cardinal, if you thought of the parallel with Joan of Arc right away, and if you have any advice for other parents - that sort of thing. What will you say?
CLAIRE This is very serious, Myriam. If you know anything you must tell us.
MYRIAM Because no one believed Joan of Arc either, in the beginning, at Domrémy. Her sheep were the only ones that believed her. It’s the same for me, only the crabs and shrimp believe me. So I’m warning you: don’t brag about it to the journalists.
JEAN Have you seen him?
MYRIAM I haven’t seen him but I know where he is.
JEAN Don’t tell me you heard a voice or had a vision...
MYRIAM No. I know it. From a reliable source.
CLAIRE Through the parish network?
MYRIAM I never leak my sources.
JEAN Whatever. So where is he?
MYRIAM There’s no free lunch in this world of commerce.
JEAN What did... (To Claire.) What did she say?
CLAIRE …
JEAN Is that supposed to mean something?
MYRIAM Words all mean something.
JEAN Huh?
MYRIAM I have a request. I have two friends who want to cross.
CLAIRE To cross?
MYRIAM Cross over. To the other side. Tunnel or ferry, take your pick.