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Anche io je suis Catherine Deneuve
Travelog | Pierre Notte

« One is usually delighted to return to one’s home country after having been away for a time. There is a joy in being back among one’s own cultural references. That feeling of joy is even greater if your country’s culture is meant to be open-minded towards the world - at least according to its definition as a secular republic - and because those references are envied by other parts of the world for being universal, no less.
The problem is that it’s impossible to be that « happy man who’s travelled far away » when you discover upon returning that there isn’t even the slightest trace of a discussion about « culture » in the electoral platforms of the candidates in the presidential elections; and those so-called « universal » references have all melted like plastic in the media spotlight (or, more aptly, its blowtorch). Worse still, arriving from abroad - often straight from countries experiencing severe conflicts, and regions of the world where the only certain thing is constant uncertainty - you discover to your amazement that you can no longer remain informed about the place you have just left because the Outside World doesn’t appear to exist in your own country anymore. The only information given about the rest of the world is devoid of all content and slips by as quickly as it appeared - lost in a sea of identical pieces about French celebrities, reduced to a few fleeting images.
One would like to think this is simply due to the temporary effect of the current campaign. But previous trips abroad had already given me warning. I noticed here and there that foreign playwrights - to stay within my field of interest - were no longer trying to have their work translated into French. Germany and England are where they look for new talent and where their plays are promoted within Europe. They see France as a track that is outdated - perhaps even inactive - leading to an uncertain destination. As a result, contemporary French theatre is nearly absent from the world, outside of French-speaking countries (and even there!). Withdrawn into itself, our country is no longer receiving or emitting. It no longer receives because it doesn’t emit, and it no longer emits because it doesn’t receive. Only a few foreign figures are considered worthy of our interest, and only after they have been recognized all over the world.
Yet I must vehemently reaffirm here that in order to read today’s world - so dramatically absent from our news, both on television and elsewhere - we need to read new plays being written in other places right now (not the day after tomorrow), whether from the Balkans, Israel, Arab or English-speaking countries (to name just a few examples). In order to do so, we need translations of these works right away - just as we need to have our own playwrights more widely translated. Receive in order to emit. Emit in order to receive.Reposing on the legendary aura of our open-minded culture, we must be careful not to wake up too late one day to find that a « culture » can also be narrow-minded - in other words, of no use to anyone.

  Pierre Notte  
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