Entr'Actes - Newsletter Actes du Théâtre 93 - French version
September 2016

International residencies for young playwrights

For years the SACD has been committed to promoting international exchanges with budding playwrights, enriching our French and Francophone playwrights' careers by opening a window onto the world, its languages, cultures and varied approaches to the theater.

These professional and personal exchanges connecting human beings have nurtured their creative processes and could open new doors for them abroad.

The impressions and narratives by the playwrights taking part in these experiences have led to different forms of international residencies for young playwrights.

With support from the SACD international cultural action policy department.

Obrador d'Estiu at Sala Beckett | Spain | July 11-16, 2016

Every year since its creation the Sala Beckett's Obrador d'Estiu has hosted two young French or Francophone playwrights to take part in an international writing workshop.
For its 11th year, Aurore Jacob and Gwendoline Soublin were among the 10 foreign playwrights invited to Barcelona. Before going, they had written short texts on the theme "Where Has the Power Gone?": Le Nombre imaginaire by Aurore Jacob and Pig Boy by Gwendoline Soublin. After being translated into Catalan and English the plays had staged readings during the week's residency. The workshop has been led by Simon Stephens for several years.


  > Aurore Jacob's impressions  

« The group of playwrights was really great, both in the varied approaches to writing and in the mix of different cultures, producing texts with a variety of sensibilities, as well as in terms of human relations and the exchanges we had. It was a very powerful experience and we started thinking about the idea of pursuing it over time through a writing project together. Stay tuned.
But in talking about the experience I can't leave out Simon who is very big-hearted and managed to give the workshop the feeling of a work in progress rather than a lecture. I admit I was a bit apprehensive about this part, that the exercises would be a bit long, boring or not relevant to my work.
After working with Simon (and a brief meeting with Martin Crimp), I feel like I've made a quantum leap. It's hard to explain. Maybe it's that there's something more concrete and less cerebral in my relationship to writing. At any rate it has to do with the active force of words. In fact, after the workshop I totally rewrote one of my most recent plays and found solutions for another one I'm in the process of rewriting.
I also retained the fact that all of us young playwrights have our doubts. Doubts that will presumably (and fortunately) never be fulfilled but will continue to feed our explorations. So this time of exchange was a way to recharge our batteries and boost our energy by creating something together on a common theme.
As for the reading of my play, I think it's always interesting to put a text through the filter of another vision - the stage - to see if it works. The distance created by the reading being in a foreign language made it all the more interesting. You access something essential in the text, its rhythm, substance and action.
Maybe the quantum leap ultimately came as much from the reading as from the workshop. The combination of the two helps you change habits and perceptions.
I think it would be good if the experience led to some way to foster work between playwrights from several different countries. »

Interplay | Sweden | June 27th to July 2nd

Thanks to its links to the ASSITEJ network and with support from Scènes d'enfance-ASSITEJ France, the SACD promotional department has helped three playwrights take part in the international Interplay residency for the second consecutive time. The 2016 Biennial residency, which last took place in Austria, was held in Sweden from June 27th to July 2nd.
Playwrights Eva Bondon and Yann Verburgh took part in the workshops, bringing along plays in progress that were then translated into English to assist in the Interplay discussion and subsequently finished outside the residency. As for rising star Pauline Peyrade, she led another group of young, foreign playwrights.
They all valued the quality of the residency and the exchanges it facilitated.


  > Yann Verburgh's impressions  

« It was unique - 35 playwrights, 21 countries, 19 languages. The playwrights were all really interesting, friendly and inspired - and so were the "tutors," making the INTERPLAY Europe 2016 festival an unforgettable experience.

The program:
- a "Base group" consisting of 5 playwrights and 2-3 tutors from many different countries. Every day we discussed the dramatic composition of each play. I was in a group with four women playwrights: from Austria, Armenia (but a resident of Poland), Latvia and Sweden. My tutors were German and Icelandic.
- various lectures around youth theater in Sweden and the Baltic countries, and on the political context and the role of the theater within that context in different countries (Poland, Iceland, The Netherlands, Greece); two productions for young Swedish audiences; and visiting a theater.
- and also a 1-hour one-on-one discussion about the texts between each playwright and one of the tutors from a different group. My one-on-one was with the Greek tutor, a specialist of ancient tragedy. My play, H.S. tragédies ordinaires, was based on the structure of a Greek tragedy, and we had detailed discussions about the relevance of that form with respect to the theme of bullying in schools. She gave me many interesting keys to gain a deeper understanding and a rich and relevant reading of the issues resulting from the genre's modernization and its impact on audiences. She had also worked on bullying in Greek high schools. In short, she was the perfect person.
- and finally, on our last evening, excerpts from our plays were read in English, giving us all a chance to discover the different worlds explored in each other's work.

How the writing in H.S. tragédies ordinaires benefitted:
- The English translation of the play and the discussion around it in that language really helped me get more of a perspective on the first draft of the text - and thus to speed up the revision process with this international expertise as feedback.
I also met some really wonderful people during the festival and, through them, new opportunities for international writing residencies have opened up. I feel even more eager than before to get to know other people and cultures, to share our writing, our dreams and our struggles. »

Studio européen des écritures pour le théâtre | France | September 8th-15th

But the panorama wouldn't be complete without France also hosting a residency of young playwrights from France and abroad. Created last year by the SACD, la Chartreuse – CNES and ENSATT as part of La Belle Saison avec l'enfance et la jeunesse, the Studio européen des écritures pour le théâtre is broadening its program this year to include all audiences and will bring together nineteen French and European playwrights at la Chartreuse from September 8th-15th around the theme "theater and current events."

The Studio's goal is to help European playwrights get acquainted and to share their work, their vision of the theater and creative perspectives. The Studio européen is eager to explore questions arising from artistic practices and ongoing changes in the field of playwriting. It was designed to be a place for intergenerational and international exchanges without any academic and cultural hierarchy. For eight days (four days of exchanges among the playwrights, followed by four days of intensive workshops), it brought together thirteen European playwrights between the ages of twenty-five and thirty-five: Andrei Adam (Romania), Albert Boronat Herreros (Catalonia), Marie Dilasser (France), Perrine Gérard (France), Kostadis Mizaras (Greece), Romain Nicolas (France), Bocar Ndyae (Switzerland), Bonn Park (Germany), Alexandra Pâzgu (Romania), Marion Pellissier (France), Tatiana Pitta (Greece), Almudena Ramirez (Spain), and Caroline Taillet (Belgium).

Three young writers - Sèdjro Giovanni Houansou (Benin), Yuval Rozman (Israel) and Zhuoer Zhu (China) - on long-term residencies at La Chartreuse were invited to join the workshops. The writer-tutors were Mathieu Bertholet (Switzerland), Enzo Cormann (France) and Magali Mougel (France). Also participating were translator Laurent Muhleisen, director of the Maison Antoine-Vitez, and two other translators from the Maison Antoine-Vitez.


  > The Studio's methods are explained in the following letter, sent to the young playwrights in residence by Enzo Cormann, artistic director of the Studio   

« A few words about our "Studio européen des Écritures pour le Théâtre", simply to evoke the spirit and method of our work during the workshops.
The guiding principle of the exchanges is quite simple: playwriting is a solitary pursuit – despite being intended for the theater community (the adjective "dramatic" should be understood in the broadest sense as any text made for the stage). Like any artistic practice, writing, in order to move forward and reinvent itself, requires a critical and forward-looking eye and narcissism-free thinking capable first and foremost of "thinking against itself." The philosopher Gilles Deleuze even spoke in this regard of "a struggle with oneself".
Most of us (writers, playwrights) have that capacity; but it is greatly facilitated and spurred on by turning to collective reflection and exploration. Our differences, disagreements and singularities help us to question our individual intuitions —"self-evident" to us — forcing us to reconsider our own work.
Quite simply because they are not us, others help us think "against" ourselves. This collective exploration process starting from personal creative endeavors can be found in many arts schools – in particular involving the theater. But we feel the need to turn to an additional degree of otherness by confronting languages, cultures, sensibilities, mindsets and forms of "self-evidence" that are different from ours. That's why international exchanges like this one are fine opportunities for developing our thinking and helping us to constantly reformulate our personal artistic projects. This year we are working on the relationship between the theater and "current events".
The 16 "dramatic hypotheses" proposed by the 16 participants will supply the material for our collective reflection. We will "work on them" as if we were at the stage of developing and composing them for the stage.
We will not look at these hypotheses as problems for which we need to find "solutions." We will merely strive to think using them as the starting point, confronting our different approaches, artistic projects and singularities.
In this kind of exchange no one is the teacher or the student of the other. Our exchanges are not comparable to discussions, but rather to working conversations: we are not trying to reach an agreement, but rather to understand each other; we are not defending positions on principle, we are questioning positioning.
The intercessors in these exchanges (for this session: Magali Mougel, Mathieu Bertholet and myself) are involved in their own creative work, requiring a sense of perplexity and the need to take a broader view.
We do not claim to know any certain truths, and our opinions, our work, our aesthetic, philosophical and political assumptions differ considerably.
The only thing each of us owes the others in this kind of work is to accept that anything "self-evident" can be questioned, examined — and even pushed around.

*** On the protocol itself:
- The "dramatic hypotheses" could consist of preparatory notes, reading references, an outline, characters or figures, a dramatic line, fragments, a title, bits of scenes ... in short, a sort of dramatic mini-file (2 or 3 pages).
- The hypotheses from the German, Romanian and Greek playwrights will be translated into French beforehand by a translator from the Maison Antoine Vitez (international center for theater translation).
We will work in large groups. We will have 8 days of meetings and exchanges, including 4 days of collective work. During the group workshop, from September 12-15, we will have exchanges on 4 hypotheses per day. We will exchange the text files on our laptops in order to add images and various kinds of documents if it is deemed necessary. For each hypothesis we will take the time to question the author of the proposal in order to understand as subtly as possible their way of seeing things, then we will begin the conversation. The exchanges will be in French.»


Co-organisation la Chartreuse-CNES, l'Ensatt-École nationale supérieure des arts et techniques du théâtre et la SACD-Société des auteurs et compositeurs dramatiques avec la participation de la Maison Antoine-Vitez-Centre international de la traduction théâtrale, avec le soutien du ministère de la Culture et de la Communication et de l'ACCR dans le cadre du Programme Odyssée, de l'Institut Ramon Llull, de l'université Carlos III de Madrid (master de creación teatral - Aulas de las Artes), de la SACD Belgique, de la Société Suisse des Auteurs, du Goethe Institut. Remerciements à l'Institut Français de Cotonou, à l'Institut del Teatre de Barcelone (remerciements à Carles Battle), à Henning Fangauf, directeur adjoint du Kinder- und Jugendtheaterzentrum, Francfort sur le Main et aux éditions Espaces 34 et Quartett.


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