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© Jean Louis Fernandez


Gisèle Vienne

Unsettling, uncompromising, and subversive, this short play combines the personal and the political through a teenager’s rebellion against family and society.


Box of Illusions

In a room that might at first seem perfectly ordinary, seven puppets representing teenagers—recurring figures in the theatrical world of Gisèle Vienne—are scattered on the ground. They are soon joined by the actresses Adèle Haenel and Henrietta Wallberg, who almost effortlessly embody all ten characters in Robert Walser’s The Pond(L’étang), a short play about a troubled childhood which the author, one of German-language literature’s most eccentric, dedicated to his sister.

L’étang recounts a day of deception in which Fritz puts his mother’s love to the test by faking his own suicide. Gisèle Vienne has set the play in a highly charged environment that amplifies the senses—mikes as close to the body as possible, layers of hallucinatory sound—and immerses us in the psychic space of the characters while also laying bare their wounds. Astonishing and immensely sophisticated, her version of L’étang reveals the traumatic effects of normalized violence. Depicting a teenager’s rebellion against family and society, it’s both intimate—almost obsessively so—and highly political.


Produced by DACM / Compagnie Gisèle Vienne
Concept, direction, et design and dramaturgy by Gisèle Vienne
Text Robert Walser Der Teich (The Pond)
Adapted by Adèle Haenel + Julie Shanahan + Henrietta Wallberg in collaboration with Gisèle Vienne
Performed by Adèle Haenel + Henrietta Wallberg
Lighting Design Yves Godin
Sound Design Adrien Michel
Music Direction Stephen F. O’Malley
Original Music Stephen F. O’Malley + François J. Bonnet
Outside Eyes Dennis Cooper 
Puppets conceived by Gisèle Vienne
Puppets created by Raphaël Rubbens + Dorothéa Vienne-Pollak + Gisèle Vienne in collaboration with Théâtre National de Bretagne
Set construction Nanterre-Amandiers CDN
Set Design and props Gisèle Vienne + Camille Queval + Guillaume Dumont
Costume Design Gisèle Vienne + Camille Queval
Make-up and wigs Mélanie Gerbeaux
Set Design Collaborator Maroussia Vaes
Tour Assistant Sophie Demeyer
Technical Manager Erik Houllier
Sound Managers Mareike Trillhaas
Lighting Managers Samuel Dosière
Stage Managers Jack McWeeny
Performance created in collaboration with Kerstin Daley-Baradel + Ruth Vega Fernandez
Production and touring Alma Office – Anne-Lise Gobin + Camille Queval + Andrea Kerr
Administration Cloé Haas + Giovanna Rua
Surtitles Operator Timothée Vadim Galais

Co-produced by Nanterre-Amandiers CDN + Théâtre National de Bretagne + Maillon, Théâtre de Strasbourg – Scène européenne + Holland Festival (Amsterdam) + Fonds Transfabrik – Fonds franco-allemand pour le spectacle vivant + Centre Culturel André Malraux (Vandœuvre-lès-Nancy) + Comédie de Genève + La Filature – Scène nationale de Mulhouse + Le Manège – Scène nationale de Reims + MC2 : Grenoble + Ruhrtriennale (Bochum) + Tandem Scène nationale (Douai + Arras) + Kaserne Basel + International Summer Festival Kampnagel (Hamburg) + Festival d’Automne à Paris + Théâtre Garonne (Toulouse) + CCN2 – Centre Chorégraphique national de Grenoble + BIT Teatergarasjen (Bergen) + Black Box Teater (Oslo)

With the support of Centre national de la danse (Pantin) + La Colline – théâtre national (Paris) +Théâtre Vidy-Lausanne

Presented with the support of Institut Français in association with Usine C

Created at Théâtre National de Bretagne in November 2020. Premiered at Théâtre Vidy-Lausanne, on May 4, 2021.

DACM / Compagnie Gisèle Vienne is supported by the Ministère de la culture et de la communication – DRAC Grand Est + Région Grand Est + City of Strasbourg. The company receives the support of Dance Reflections by Van Cleef & Arpels and the regular support of the Institut Français for its tours abroad.

Gisèle Vienne is an associate artist at Chaillot – théâtre national de la danse (Paris) + MC2 : Grenoble + Volcan – Scène nationale du Havre + Théâtre National de Bretagne (Rennes).

Special thanks to Étienne Bideau-Rey + Nelson Canart + Zac Farley + Étienne Hunsinger + Pauline Jakobiak + Tristan Lahoz + Richard Pierre + César Van Looy + Jean-Paul Vienne + Point Éphémère (Paris) for the rehearsal space + Playroom, SMEM (Fribourg) for their sound studio

To Kerstin

Written by Catherine Girardin
Translated by David Dalgleish


© Andrea Montano

Gisèle Vienne (Strasbourg)
DACM / Compagnie Gisèle Vienne

Gisèle Vienne joined the École nationale supérieure des arts de la Marionnette in 1996, then founded her own company, pursuing all aspects of the puppeteering art in Showroomdummies (2001-2020), a collaboration with Étienne Bideau-Rey, and The Ventriloquists Convention (2015), presented at FTA in 2016.

A visual artist, photographer, and director, she has also continued her explorations beyond the stage, including the publication of the book/CD set Jerk // Through Their Tears (2011)—a companion piece to Jerk (2008), a show performed at La Chapelle in 2010.

Full biography