A confidential project due to its limited number of performances, “Le Double de la bataille” was created on 8 November 1999 for the “Impromptus” at the Mettre en Scène Festival at the Théâtre national de Bretagne (TNB). The principle of this exercise where two artistic disciplines confront each other, which brought about its creation, aimed to “give artists the opportunity to work on aspects that they do not normally work on, to launch themselves into adventures, to limit themselves to a very short timeframe, to take on work that is different from a “creative stance””. For Françoise du Chaxel, former Deputy Director of the TNB, it meant “privileging the moment instead of the duration, the accidental instead of the repetitive, instead of the continual, the measurable...” (creation dossier, October 1999).
With this new proposal, Catherine Diverrès would pursue work she had embarked on in 1994 and had undertaken for three consecutive years with students from the TNB school including eight actors, who had recently completed the curriculum and who would encounter here six dancers from the National Choreographic Centre of Rennes and Brittany (CCNRB). In October 1998 and April 1999, during two working periods focusing on the question “What does non-space mean to you?”, they imagined a way of taking over the theatre stage together, “elud[ing] the substance of words in order to master the space” (CCNRB programme, spring-summer 2000): “At the beginning, wrote Catherine Diverrès, we questioned space that delimits itself or that thinks it is infinite, words, light, love... and then thought about its opposite, what would be the non-space? The madness, the confusion between the other and myself, the non-communication. These two pillars formed the basis for our work”. (creation dossier, October 1999).
Tackling text and theatre, essential to the choreographer’s work, structures this exploratory periods explains F. du Chaxel: “[The performers] brought texts that talked about incommunicability, confinement, madness, (...) serious texts and funny texts, in the sense that humour is frequently used to hide despair”. (creation dossier, October 1999) Dostoyevsky and Racine rub shoulders with the poets Gherasim Luca, Nâzim Hikmet, and the testimonials of Marie Depussé, “relating the shattered mental space of the residents of La Borde (psychiatric clinic)”. The former Deputy Director of the TNB welcomed the outcome of this experience: “the dancers became familiar with the concrete aspects of theatre whilst the actors learned to master space” (F. du Chaxel, creation dossier, October 1999).
By revealing an extract from her personal notebook in the Mettre en Scène Festival programme, Catherine Diverrès presented her new proposal as follows: “We really need to have writers who do not invent characters but who address the living being, this core where we recognize something. (...) Today, I have the impression that I am moving towards more entertaining things, where humour, a certain distance, may play a role. (...) Grinding up, digesting the literary material voraciously, jubilantly and conscientiously projecting objectivized states of ourselves, fragments of feelings, naked, without words (or secretly with them), inventing a unique space which partially reflects, through flashes, a myriad of trajectories”. (Mettre en Scène Festival programme, TNB, 9-20 November 1999, p. 4)
A one-off reprise of the work was performed at the Théâtre de la Cité internationale, in Paris, in June 2000, within the framework of the conference “La danse et le texte, vers une dramaturgie du sensible?” (Dance and text, moving towards sensitive dramatic art?), organized with the National Dance Centre (CND).
The images presented here relate to a sequence of work.
STATEMENT OF INTENT
“At the beginning, we questioned space that delimits itself or that thinks it is infinite, words, light, love... and then thought about its opposite, what would be the non-space? The madness, the confusion between the other and myself, the non-communication. These two pillars formed the basis for our work.
How were the texts chosen, how do the actor, the dancer become doubles, how do the voices, the narratives pair up in relation to this focus on space, non-space.
It was in this way that Dostoyevsky composed the character of Stavrogin in “Demons”, possessed by himself, by another inside himself, in lucid, criminal madness. Marie Depussé’s words reply to this character, words that demonstrate softness, infinite patience, essential for preserving the bodies, accompanying the chaotic gestures of madmen and women in their tortured mental space, with no points of reference, no limits. A non-space.
How does space come into being: recognizing otherness, recognizing the other absolutely other, means understanding the responsibility that links us to others. The voices of the poets that reach us in fragments, in bursts, Nâzim Hikmet, Gherasim Luca, Jean Racine, open up the space with their verb. Entanglement between meaning and abstraction, fun and gravity, a stitch in place, a mesh in reverse or vice versa. A fragment of time. »
Catherine Diverrès, November 1999
Updating: October 2014