La nuit des taupes
A cardboard burrow, seven giant moles, a disconcerting microcosm. An improbable journey to the centre of the earth… the leaves the spectator in open-eyed wonder.
A burrow. Seven giant moles emerge from cardboard tunnels. They dig, cook, draw, copulate and even form a punk-rock band. A disconcerting microcosm that could only have come from Philippe Quesne’s imagination! Wordless theatre of the ecological and philosophical underground, this is an improbable journey to the centre of the earth… that leaves the spectator in open-eyed wonder.
As in L’effet de Serge (FTA, 2010), the French director and set designer once again tracks down the fantastic where least expected in a series of microfictions that trace the cycles of life. From Plato to Bin Laden, the cave has been a source of myth, imposing its primitive law. The subterranean world swarms with an unknown species that has something to teach us about resisting cynicism; it is a utopian refuge. Will this playful, fascinating world right under our feet become the last bastion against the folly of the world?
Produced by Nanterre-Amandiers – centre dramatique national
Conceived and directed by Philippe Quesne
Set Design Philippe Quesne
Performed by Yvan Clédat + Jean-Charles Dumay + Léo Gobin + Erwan Ha Kyoon Larcher + Sébastien Jacobs + Thomas Suire + Gaëtan Vourc’h
Costume Design Corine Petitpierre + Anne Tesson
Dramaturgical Consultants Léo Gobin + Lancelot Hamelin + Ismael Jude + Smaranda Olcèse
Artistic and Technical Consultants Marc Chevillon + Yvan Clédat + Élodie Dauguet + Abigail Fowler + Thomas Laigle
Coproduction steirischer herbst (Graz) + Kunstenfestivaldesarts (Bruxelles) + Théâtre Vidy – Lausanne + La Filature – Scène nationale (Mulhouse) + Künstlerhaus Mousonturm (Francfort-sur-le-Main) + Théâtre national de Bordeaux Aquitaine + Kaaïtheater (Bruxelles) + Centre d’art Le Parvis (Tarbes) + NXTSTP avec le soutien du Programme culture de l’Union européenne
With the support of Fondation d’entreprise Hermès dans le cadre de son programme New Settings (Paris)
With the participation of The research group « Behavioral Objects » – coordination Samuel Bianchini (Paris) + Quai Malaquais – workshop directed by Jordi Colomer (Paris)
Presented by La Presse+ with the support of Institut Français (Paris) + Service de coopération et d’action culturelle du Consulat général de France à Québec in association with Usine C + Carrefour international de théâtre (Québec)
Written by Diane Jean
Translated by Neil Kroetsch
Premiered at Kunstenfestivaldesarts, Brussels, on May 6, 2016
Philippe Quesne (Nanterre)
Nanterre-Amandiers - centre dramatique national
Initially a visual artist and set designer, Philippe Quesne has a keen interest in spaces, objects, music and actors.
He observes humanity in benevolent fashion and stretches time to slow down where others accelerate, making for a unique form of staging on the French theatre scene. He creates microfictions using simple materials, and dreams of a more organic yet always poetic theatre. He established his well-named company Vivarium in 2003, a collection of actors, visual artists and musicians. His works include the 2004 piece La démangeaison des ailes, D’après nature (2006), La mélancolie des dragons (2008) and L’effet de Serge, where a character brings odds and ends to life and creates an astounding fairy tale world, much to the delight of FTA audiences in 2010.
Philippe Quesne designs and presents performances and other interventions in public spaces and natural sites, with installations or exhibits often included. In 2013 he created Anamorphosis with four Japanese actresses at the Komaba Agora Theatre in Tokyo, and that same year Swamp Club marked the company’s tenth anniversary. In 2014 Next Day, a piece for children aged 8 to 11, was presented at the Festival Theater der Welt in Mannheim, Germany. He first presented La nuit des taupes in 2016 at the Kunstenfestivaldesarts in Brussels. Augmenting the piece were a series of events entitled Welcome to Caveland!, a laboratory of ideas featuring guest artists and researchers and activities such as workshops for children in a cave, an underground guided tour, concerts and a film club. He has been the artistic director of Nanterre-Amandiers – centre dramatique national since 2014.