lundi 23 février 2009

An afternoon of Words & Theatre 11: François de Peaudecerf

by François de Peaudecerf
Staging by David Lemasson (playing Jack, the student)
and Charly Hamy (playing Professor Jones)

Prof. JONES: 55, well-cut short beard, little glasses
JACK: twenty something student, looks “cool”

[ Prof. Jones sits behind his desk, an armchair stands in front of the desk. Prof. Jones is wearing white coveralls, looks serious. Some horribly complicated posters hang on the wall. He seems to be taking notes from an article, then stops, looks at a pen and puts it parallel to the edge of his desk. He smiles, satisfied, and continues writing. Somebody knocks on the door. ]

Prof. JONES: Yes, come in!

[Jack comes in, smiling]

JACK: Hi, Professor Jones! How are you? Is your research going well? [looking at the posters.] Woah! Terrific! Those posters are terrific! Look at this picture: amazing!

Prof. JONES: [looks first amazed then tries to recover] What you are looking at, young man, is the most advanced simulation of a 4-D lattice of quark dynamics in the fundamental state of...

JACK: [interrupting] Oh, no need to go on, you see, I won't get a whisp of it and anyway I don't care. Just as I was saying, this picture's amazing, it looks like Science-Fiction. [He turns to the armchair and sits, tests the quality of it.] You're quite comfortable here, aren't you? [He spins in the armchair] Nice!

Prof. JONES: [tense but polite] Please, stop it! If you are not interested in my research, may I ask you why you came here, young man? Besides, what is your name?

JACK: Jack, I'm Jack Oliver. Well, I need a letter of recommendation – you see, I want to go to the United States, but they're so picky... You're quite famous, so I thought that with your name, I could get through. What do you think about it? You're in?

Prof. JONES: Well, you’re a bit quick when it comes to business. But, first, I’d need to know a little more about you and your plans, for example, what really interests you about Physics, which subject ...

JACK: Oh, no problem, I don't care what you write, there’s no need to know what I'll do. I just want to go to the States. The subject I’ll study doesn't matter, I won't work a lot, anyway. You must’ve been there, no? How was it? Big campuses, lots of money, the American way of life? Did you enjoy it? I can't wait! Did you...?

Prof. JONES: [interrupting] Well, yes, I mean, it was great, but... let's get back to you. You understand that before I write anything for you, I need to know your results, as in your grades, I also need to know about your motives, what gets you through, why you see your stay in the US as an opportunity...

JACK: But Prof,, aren’t you getting a clear picture, here? It’s the States!!! That's enough of a motivation: going to the United States, where everything is possible! Burgers, skyscrapers, American girls, all mine! You just have to sign a damn paper and then they're mine. You can't refuse me that! Prof? What do you think?
[During Jack's speech, the Prof has put his head in his hands, thinking and looking angry. When he looks back up, he seems changed and determined]

Prof. JONES: Okay, boy, let's get it straight. You want your trip to the States: how much are you ready to pay me for that letter?

JACK: Wh...What? I...I beg your pardon?

Prof. JONES: How much are you ready to pay?

JACK: To... pay? What...? Money?

Prof. JONES: Pay money, dough, dosh, call it what you want! You understand what I mean?

JACK: But.. why, I mean... you don't pay for a letter of recommendation, you... the professors do them for free...

Prof. JONES: Oh, yeah, and why should they? They have a Phd, right, so they're not so stupid? Why should they write them for free?

JACK: Why...? But... I... for their students, for the sake of science, I...

Prof. JONES: Oh God, what did you say, the sake of Science? You're a such a kid! Science! I'd not be sitting here if there had only been Science!

JACK: What...?

Prof. JONES: What did you think? One day you’d find a revolutionary idea and: “Poof!” you're a big shot, recognised and respected all over the world? Poor baby, open your eyes! It's all about money: get credit, and then use it to get your work recognised--or more often the work of someone else recognised as yours!

JACK: stole your articles?

Prof. JONES: No, I paid for them. And pretty well indeed! But now, you see, I'm the playmaker: you think I'd not make the most of it? But then how could I spend my holidays in Tahiti? Moreover, I still need high-ranking articles, and they are quite expensive nowadays...

JACK: But...I can't believe it! I... you're supposed to represent Science, its virtues, its freedom from every other human activity! You, a for his research!

Prof. JONES: Oh yeah, and maybe I should also stay up late in my lab, then go home to a tiny flat where, after a frugal dinner of sardines and stale bread, I should read some highly boring intellectual book and finally fall into sleep alone in my simple bed. And of course, I should sign recommendation letters for free! Sorry to disappoint you boy! [He opens a drawer and throws some fashion magazines on the table] Are these Nature and Science? [He points to a half-naked girl on the cover of one.] Is she the latest Nobel laureate? Not really. You're wrong about the magazines I read, just as you're wrong about my life. Now, you'd better make your decision about that letter quickly! I have to go for my golf lesson, after which I'll dine in a restaurant with a nice Russian chick who wants to study in our venerable institution, and who'll prove to me, I hope, that she's got enough “assets” to succeed. So, you see, I am quite busy. Therefore, I will ask only one last time: how much?

JACK: I...I can't believe it!!! ... I...I am ashamed of you, you dishonour Science, the work of thousands of invaluable men and women... and being so mean! I can't believe it! I...I...I’m leaving!

[Jack leaves the office, slamming the door]

Prof. JONES: [smiles, now alone, relaxed, and laughs a little.] Aaah, it always works. [He looks at the magazines, smiles again, and puts them back in the drawer] So, back to work! [He again looks concentrated, he places the pencil that has moved back parallel to the edge of his desk and returns to his notes. After a moment he looks at his watch] Oh my God, I'm late! [He takes off his lab coveralls: he’s wearing fancy golf outfit underneath. As he stands up, we see he has got golf shoes, too. From behind his desk, he picks up a golf bag which was hidden. He smiles.] Ivana Petruchka. Sounds great!

[He leaves his office]


An Afternoon of Words & Theatre 10: Florian Tedeschi

Violence(s), by Florian Tedeschi

A small public garden, with a sandbox where two children are playing. They are arguing.

Children 1 : Give me your bucket!

Children 2 : I’ll never give it to you! Why should I?

Children 1 : ’Cause if you don’t, I’ll jump on your sandcastle.

Children 2 : Oh yeah? If you do that, I’ll scratch your face.

Children 1 : Then I would tear your hair out!

They keep on arguing. We can’t hear what they’re saying, but we can see they are really angry. The light moves to the left, where their fathers are sitting on a bench.

Father 1 : I heard you got promoted?

Father 2 : Yes, I’m totally excited about it.

Father 1 : Does the boss know what you were doing with his wife last Wednesday?

Father 2 : I hope not, for sure!

Father 1 : What if I told him about that? I guess that’s what I would do, if you don’t decline his offer.

Father 2 : Oh yeah? Then I would tell him about all your embezzling...

Father 1 : And I would not only tell not your boss, but also your wife about your little rendez-vous...

They keep on arguing. The light moves back to the children.

Children 2 : Then I would kick your sorry ass.

Children 1 : You would kick my sorry ass?

Children : Yes! I would kick your sorry ass.

They laugh. The light moves back to the fathers.

Father 2 : Really? Then I would have much more to lose.

Father 1 with satisafaction in his voice : I guess so.

The second father takes a gun with a silencer out of his pocket, shoots, and kills the other. The children keep on laughing, not aware of what has just happened.
NOTE: Final image here is by Mike Jones, Welsh artist (b 1941) lives in the Swansea Valley & is represented by Foutain Fine Art Gallery. More of his art can be found by clicking HERE.

dimanche 22 février 2009

An Afternoon of Words & Theatre 9: Divya Babin

by Divya Babin
Staging by Mathilde Poulhes (playing Phelan), Manon Picard (playing Ker), Leo Greusard (playing the barman) and Soizic Bernard (playing Adelphie)

KER: A young woman, rather small, with a childish face. She has a red coat on, and probably a skirt or a dress for we can see her legs. She’s wearing nude tights.
PHELAN: A thirty-ish man, tall, unshaved. He’s wearing a white shirt and dark pants, and looks tired.
A BARTENDER: Wearing dark clothes. We can’t see his face.
ADELPHIE: A young girl.

[The scene takes place in a bar late at night. The bar is empty but for PHELAN sitting at a table in a corner, and the BARTENDER behind the counter. KER enters the place and sits at the counter. The BARTENDER places a juice in front of her. We can’t see his face, only his dark silhouette behind the counter. PHELAN stands up and walks to the counter, on which he puts his empty glass. He takes a seat near KER, and receives another glass of red wine from the bar tender. The BARTENDER disappears from the scene silently. For a few minutes, KER and PHELAN sip their drinks in silence. ]

PHELAN: Cold night, ain’t it?

KER: Yes, the wind is chilly. (She shudders) I’ve just walked here from Greystone.
[He looks surprised, but she smiles innocently at him.]
My car broke down three kilometres out of city centre, on the long dark road down there. I was a bit frightened on my own, but I had no other choice. I forgot my cell phone at home…
[She seems to wait for him to say something but he keeps playing with his glass, as if he’s not heard her.]
I was on my way to Dublin. I have an appointment there.

PHELAN: At 1 a.m., on a Monday night?
[He smirks and gives her a weird stare. She looks away.]

KER: Yes, uh... work issues... My… job has some particular circumstances.

PHELAN: [unconcerned]
So have many jobs, I guess.
[He takes a sip. She gives him a tentative smile]

KER: Oh, you understand, do you?
[He looks surprised, and shrugs.]

PHELAN: So you’re on your way to Dublin? I could have given you a ride, but I think I’ve drunk too much tonight.
[Lower, to himself.]
What’s new?
You want me to call a cab?

KER: No, no, thank you! I’ve already called one… There’s a booth outside. It shouldn’t take more than a half hour, they told me. Hopefully, I’ll make it in time.
[She smiles ruefully. He finishes his drink, and the BARTENDER that has suddenly re-appeared provides him with another one.]

PHELAN: [to himself.]
Guess, I shouldn’t…

KER: Sorry, you said… ?

PHELAN: [grabbing the drink.]
[With a smile.]
Don’t you want something stronger to drink? Aren’t you cold?
[She laughs.]

KER: With my coat on? I’m all right, thank you. But won’t you play chess with me until I leave? I’m getting a little tired and it might help me stay awake.
[He seems a bit surprised, but she gestures towards a chess board on the counter behind him.]

PHELAN: Hmm… I’m really bad at it, but if you don’t mind…

KER: Oh… I am not too good either… Should we?
[He stands up, brings the chess board to KER and sits down again.]
Thank you, uh…

PHELAN: Phelan. I’m Phelan.
[He waits but since she does not answer adds:]
And you are?
[She giggles.]

KER: I go by various names, but I guess you could call me Ker.
[He frowns.]

PHELAN: Well, uh... Ker... nice to meet you… So, will you begin?
[She nods and becomes very serious. She plays.]

KER: Beginning is easy, isn’t it?
[She smirks at him and he seems taken aback. He plays. They both play one more move apiece.]
So you’re an easy-going man… I thought so.
[He frowns. She takes her turn. He smiles and takes his.]

PHELAN: Check.
[She grins coldly, but her eyes stay serious.]

KER: Looking for an easy victory? That’s all you can do? Coward!
[There is no humour in her voice. PHELAN looks at her, frowning. They stare at each other for a moment then she stamps her fist on the counter. This sudden move makes him jump and he spills some of his wine on his shirt.]
Such a coward! You’re disgusting!

PHELAN: Hey, cool down! Look what you’ve done! I am not playing with you if I’m just going to get insulted!

KER: [She laughs as he is looking down at his shirt helplessly.]
Yeah, you’re playing with me because you’ve got nothing else to do, you pathetic drunkard! Has your girlfriend thrown you out, or are you just one of those pitiful husbands who lose interest in their wife once you get to the baby lot and the routine life?
[He looks on the edge of answering but stops himself and stands up.]
So, what? You’re up now? Fine! Are you going to run away from a little girl who’s speaking the awful truth? Why don’t you stop running away and sit down?

PHELAN: I’m going to the bathroom to try and do something with my shirt. When I come back, I’m goin’ home.

KER: No, you don’t.
[Her left hand digs into her pocket. He is about to turn his back when she takes out a small pistol and aims it at him quite casually.]
I said, sit down.

PHELAN: What… What’s that now?
[He frowns but tries to laugh.]
So is that what young girls do to kill time?

KER: No. It is not. Sit down.
[She waves the pistol towards the seat.]

PHELAN: Or what? I’m going to get shot because I didn’t like being called a coward by a girl during a chess game in the middle of the night?

KER: No. You’re going to get shot because you tried to be smarter than the girl who was holding the gun. Sit. Now.
[He sits down.]
That’s better. Now, listen carefully. You are going to give this game your all, otherwise you will be very sorry. So, let’s proceed.
[She reflects for a few minutes on the board which he has reset up, then makes her move.]
Your turn.
[They take 13 turns each, in tense silence, taking their time before making their moves. PHELAN eyes her searchingly from time to time. ]
Do you like Daffodils?

PHELAN: Not more than any other flower. Why do you ask?

KER: I’m curious.
[She grins and takes her turn. He takes a bishop on his next move.]

PHELAN: [hesitantly.]
Do you play often?
[She shrugs and moves.]

KER: Barely. Only when I have time out of work and need to think.

PHELAN: Oh... Is your work that demanding then?
[She grins strangely. He plays.]

KER: Yes, it’s more or less a 24/7 kind of job. What about yours? Feel like complaining?
[He casts his eyes down. She plays.]

PHELAN: Yeah, I can’t say I revel in my job. I guess I just don’t revel in anything anymore. But as long as I can pay the bills…
[She snorts and looks at him with disgust.]

KER: So original.
[He shrugs and takes a turn.]

PHELAN: I used to enjoy playing chess with my father. I mean, when I was a kid…
[She takes her turn then looks up at him.]

KER: What happened? Your father got killed in a car accident and you stopped, or you no longer talk to your parents because they’ve always loved your older brother more than you?
[He gives a short laugh that sounds a bit fake while taking his turn.]

PHELAN: No, nothing so interesting. I love my parents and my younger brother. I just grew tired. I have no patience for chess.
[She snorts and plays.]

KER: You’re good at giving up. I wonder how you made it up to now.

PHELAN: I guess I wasn’t always indifferent.
[He takes his Queen in his hand, but stops to think.]
Don’t you love your family?
[Her eyes flash at him.]

KER: I do. Very much.
[She smiles treacherously.]
In fact, that’s precisely why I’m here.
[She keeps silent for a few minutes, staring at him.]
Don’t you want to ask me what this masquerade’s all about? Or are you so bored that even a girl forcing you at gun-point to play chess in the middle of the night doesn’t surprise you anymore?
[He shrugs but smiles innocently, which makes him look suddenly younger.]

PHELAN: I thought it might be safer not to ask…
[She laughs but her looks become serious once again.]

KER: My... uh... little sister needs a heart. Tomorrow it will be too late.
[He nods seriously and puts down the Queen he’s been holding.]

PHELAN: What’s she like?
[She plays.]

KER: Young, beautiful... sad. Her laugh was like the tinkle of a bell. She no longer laughs… She loves flowers. But not daffodils. Do you have a sister?

PHELAN: No, but my ex-girlfriend had one. She was neither beautiful, nor nice...

KER: Ah, ah... so you really got dumped by your girlfriend?
[He plays.]

PHELAN: Maybe it’s not so bad if I lose this game...
[She looks at him with disgust.]

KER: I can only agree with you. But maybe you won’t even have to wait for the end of the game… I mean, my cab will soon be here. I don’t see why I should lose any time…
[She takes her turn. He looks panicked and moves immediately after her, taking a pawn.]
Is that all you can do?
[She plays. He moves again immediately after her, taking a rook.]
Come on!
[She takes her next turn. He again plays straightaway, taking the other rook.]

PHELAN: Check.

KER: Does it change anything? Do you think you can win with that?
[She plays.]

PHELAN: What if I can? Does that change something?
[She shrugs, and stares at him harshly as he makes his next move. She plays and takes a pawn.]

KER: Check.

PHELAN: I guess I’m in dire straits. I told you I wasn’t very good.
[He tries to laugh but sounds more like he’s choking. He tips his glass to his lips but it’s empty.]

KER: I assume you don’t have children.

PHELAN: I don’t. But I’m only twenty-nine, you see. Not too late.
[She laughs. He coughs.]

KER: I wonder…

PHELAN: My parents met when they were already past thirty… My father had just spent five years in India doing relief work.
[He coughs. Silence.]
My brother just graduated from the Department of Medicine… He’s getting married.

KER: You must be a great disappointment to your parents. It’s your turn to play.
[He coughs and hesitates, but takes his turn as she waves the pistol in her left hand. She plays straight afterwards, grinning broadly.]

KER: Check.

PHELAN: I guess it’s over, I’m lost... But even if I didn’t lose, would you…

KER: [harshly.]
Would I what? Do you think not losing is enough? Do you even want to win?
[She cocks the gun, still aiming it at him.]
I’m fed up. Play now. Let us finish. I hear the cab outside.
[A short silence. He smiles, suddenly hopeful, and plays, taking her Queen.]

PHELAN: What about that? What are you going to do without your Queen?
[She laughs.]

KER: Well, first I could tell you that you need to think more about the future…
[then harshly:]
To win you need to sacrifice, don’t you know?
[She plays.]
[She stands up and takes a few steps backwards to put some distance between her and PHELAN.]
So now, Phelan, it’s good-bye time. You can’t say it wasn’t fair… I gave you a chance… You could even have struggled, overpowered me…
[She smirks.]
You didn’t even think of that, did you? How pathetic…
[He takes a step towards her.]
Don’t! It’s too late now. Accept your fate. At least, this time you’ll be useful.
[He casts his eyes down.]

PHELAN: You’re right. I’m useless.

KER: Utterly useless.

PHELAN: I doubt anyone will cry for me.

KER: I’m sure even your family will forget about you in a week.

PHELAN: [angry]
No they won’t! Maybe I’m pathetic, but they’ve always supported me.

KER: Then you’re even more pathetic!

PHELAN: I know… But I wanted to do something. I just couldn’t…

KER: No, you just didn’t. That’s different. You could, but you gave up before even trying.

PHELAN: I could?
[He looks up and seems completely confused. Then comprehension dawns on his face.]

KER: [sweet and sincere]
I’m so sorry.
[He stares at her without fear, for a few moments as she levels her gun and prepares to pull the trigger. She’s on the edge of firing when ADELPHIE enters the place, wearing a long white dress, with flowers in her left hand. She’s barefoot. KER glances at her and looks suddenly sad. Her voice breaks:]

[ADELPHIE walks towards KER, puts her hand on KER’s left arm and whispers something into her ear. KER looks like she’s going to cry, the gun trembles in her hand. ADELPHIE smiles and we can hear a bell tinkling. The curtain falls. ]


An Afternoon of Words & Theatre 8: Fabien Wagner

Show Time by Fabien Wagner

Staging had been prepared by Pascal Benchimol, Eric Leibenguth and Guillaume Ruop--however, due to injury, the play was not performed, thus these photos are not from class.

The scene shows two characters: Bob and Jack. An Old man is among the audience.

Bob : Why did you betray me ? How did you dare? It was such a cruel offence! You, my best friend!

Jack: Life is not so simple, Bob. You’ve always been so naïve. Even when you were a boy, you were so easily fooled…

Bob (in a seemingly tragic but moderate manner): Ah, Jupiter‘s thunder falls upon me! You have destroyed my life. (silence) Nothing has importance anymore now…

Jack: It’s not my fault if she preferred me!

Bob (yelling): No…!

Bob throws himself on Jack. They roll on the floor. Bob is above Jack and tries to strangle him. He hits Jack’s head against the floor three times. The sounds are loud. The third time, Jack stops moving. Bob looked up, bewildered, his hands gesture towards the sky.

Bob: Ah! My soul is now stained with the blood of my best friend, the sorrow of my love and the malediction of the fates. Let the Gods have pity on me!

[The old man comes out from the audience onto the stage. He has graying, tousled hair. He jumps onto the stage.]

Old Man: [shouts]No, no, no. It’s absolutely wrong. Hopefully, nobody but me saw you. Can you imagine if that were not the case? You would have been in such trouble! I cannot believe you even did that!

Bob: I am sooo sorry! I don’t understand what happened. I was taken by my feelings, and it just came out like that!

Old man: It is lucky that this theatre was empty. But now, we have to decide what to do inthe future. You need to correct this.

Bob: To correct it? But what else can I do? Jack is dead and that’s all. There’s nothing else to say or do.

Old man: On the contrary, you can improve the situation greatly. Everything is about the impression you will make on other people. You have to convince them of what you want, to make them believe that it is the truth. For that, you have to be a real actor. There’s no use pretending anything if you don’t believe in it. You need to be possessed by what you say.

Bob: But imagine people coming here who see that. How can I change what they will think and feel at the simple sight of me, murdering my best friend?

Old man: It is all about your behavior. After a murder, the testimonies can be very different depending on the reaction of the witness who has seen the crime. See how I might change all this into something completely different? Imagine I am you, and let’s begin the scene of the crime again.

[The old man comes on the front of the stage, taking the same position as Bob a little earlier.]

Old man (staring at Bob in a knowing way): Someone who wants to incriminate you will have seen the crime like this. (With hatred, his hands up, his eyes glowing in madness): Ah, Jupiter‘s thunder falls upon me! You have destroyed my life. (Silence. Then, in a trembling and frightening voice) Nothing matters anymore now…

(staring at Bob in a knowing way): Someone who wants to exonerate you will have seen the crime like this. (Depressed, in a feeble voice.): Ah, Jupiter‘s thunder falls upon me! You have destroyed my life. (Silence. Then, sitting down and slowly shaking his head) Nothing matters anymore now…

(staring at Bob in a knowing way): Someone who wants to make a mockery of the whole situation will have seen the crime like this. (Acting drunk. He keeps laughing for apparently no reason. He is supporting himself with the help of Bob): Ah, Jupiter‘s thunder falls upon me! You have destroyed my life. (with hiccups and laughs) Nothing matters anymore now…

(staring at Bob in a knowing way): Someone who wants to…

Bob (interrupting the old man): Yes, that’s right. I understand. But you aren’t helping me very much. What should I do exactly? Which is the best way to present things...

Old man: What you did was awful. You absolutely need to change that.

Bob: Of course, but how? Can you tell me exactly what to do? I’m completely lost.

Old man: You need to find that by yourself. It’s a kind of inner monologue. (With emphasis, in a kind of theatrical madness): The inner monologue!
How many times will I have to tell you this?
(With emphasis, even louder than before): The inner monologue!

[On the stage, Jack is moves slightly, as if he is waking up. He grabs one of Bob’s legs.]

Bob (shouting): Ah!

Old man (shouting): Ah!

Jack (shouting and standing up): Ah!

Bob: You’re supposed to be dead, you know!

Jack: Sorry, I fear I have been asleep for a little while…

Old man: All right, pals. There we go! We have our work cut out for us. (He walks quickly into the wings). You gonna play this one-act once more? If the audience had seen your last rehearsal, it would have been a failure. Let’s try again!

Bob and Jack head out into the wings as well. The curtain drops.

An Afternoon of Words & Theatre 7: Ange-Thérèse Akono

by Ange-Thérèse Akono

[In the collective kitchen. Dirty plates are lying on the first table along with spice pots, pans and other kitchen utensils. Two students, Anna and Pedro, are discussing something a round the first table. On the second table is a hotplate with a pot with its lid on on it.]
Estelle enters the room.

ESTELLE: Hi, What’s up?
She draws up a chair and sits.

PEDRO: I’ve been tortured this morning by Cauchy, Salençon and Le Tallec

ANNE (laughing): That’s you! Always complaining. It can’t be that difficult!

PEDRO (imitating Anne’s voice): It is not AT ALL difficult. All you have to do is attend all the classes, learn the book by heart and study all the past examinations papers.
Well, I started reading my notes only a few days ago!

ESTELLE: Yeah! Quite challenging. Good luck! By the way, what are we going to cook?

ANNE: Whatever we find, I guess. The cupboards are empty.

ESTELLE: Are they? I thought Sylvain had ordered groceries. He told me he would.

PEDRO: He’s certainly forgotten, otherwise they would have been delivered by now. He might have been busy studying.

ANNE: Just like all of us. I mean, we all are to sit exams next week.

ESTELLE: Instead of complaining, you could have sent him a reminder, Anne.

PEDRO: Ok girls, don’t fight! Having a row will lead us nowhere. We’d better think of a solution.

ESTELE: What’s left?

ANNE (pointing at the potatoes lying on the first table): I had some potatoes left.

ESTELLE: I brought some bacon cubes.

PETER: I have got nothing but spices. Here they are!

ESTELLE: (approaching the second table) What’s that?
She opens the pot to check inside.

ANNE: Some rice, not ours.

ESTELLE: (She nods): Let’s start by cooking these potatoes.
Anna stands up, put the potatoes into a pot, pours water and hands the pot to Estelle.

PEDRO: Don’t you skin the potatoes? My mother always does.

ESTELLE: Pedro, we are not cooking a Spanish omelet. Besides, we‘ve got to save time.

ANNA: Trust me. It tastes better.

PEDRO: Nothing can be better than a home-made tortilla de patatas.

ESTELLE: Oh, oh! I think the fuse just blew ! The burner is off now.

ANNA: Pedro, could you go and turn it back on?

PEDRO: Young lady, I am exhausted and so sleepy!

ESTELLE: Por favor?

PEDRO: I can’t resist such a sweet request coming from such a beautiful lady.
He leaves.

ESTELLE: Such things always annoy me. Why can’t this burner just work normally? We should take action at the student accommodation office…

ANNE: Yes, they could for example, make sure Magnan is open on Mondays, or open a fast-food place next to the student buildings, or…
Pedro comes back.

PEDRO: I’ve just flipped it back on. Does it work?

ESTELLE: No, it still doesn’t.

ANNA: The trouble is, the hotplate can’t heat two pots at the same time, I think. We could wait until the rice is cooked, or take it off the other burner.

PEDRO: That’s not legal. (pointing at the rice) This student came first,

ESTELLE: That’s not enough. He should have stayed to watch his food. My mother used to tell me a good cook never leaves his food unwatched.

ANNA: Pedro, we are tired, cansadas, hungry, and we have to go back to studying soon.

PEDRO: Si, pero, that’s NO excuse.
Anna takes a potato out of the pan and gives it to Pedro.

ANNA: Here is your potato. Just wait until we have finished cooking ours and until the other student has finished cooking his rice, and then you can cook yours. This way you will not be taking part in our crime.

Anna and Estelle exchange conniving smiles.

PEDRO: I am going to wait in my room.
And he leaves.

ESTELLE: He is really angry!

ANNA: he’s too touchy, Pedro!

They put the pot of potatoes on the burner where the rice had been. The door opens and another student comes in.

STUDENT: Hi, excuse me. I forgot my rice on the burner, I hope it didn’t burn.

ANNA: We took it off before it got burnt.

STUDENT: Thanks! Actually, I no longer want it, so if you are interested, help yourself.

ANNA and ESTELLE: Thank you.

STUDENT: You’re welcome! Enjoy!
He leaves.

ANNA (tasting the rice): It’s cooked! We are lucky!

ESTELLE: Yes, let’s just cook the bacon cubes. I’ll call Pedro.
(She gets out her cell phone)
Pedro, you can come back, dinner is ready.
What?... I see, Well, we don’t want to wait too long, ok.
(Talking to Anna) he is coming.

ANNA: Nice!

ESTELLE: Bacon cubes with rice. That’s not at all healthy. There should be some vegetables.

ANNA: Yeah! If only Magnan were open on Sundays!

vendredi 20 février 2009

An Afternoon of Words & Theater 6: Thomas Morel

STRANGE ENDINGS, by Thomas Morel
Staging by Frederic Delacour (who plays Jerry)

and Simon Chamoret-Devergne (The Angel)

CHARACTERS: Jerry Butler: a CEO in his fifties, tall and thin, with a little moustache. An angel: a messenger. tall and blond, wearing all white.

[Jerry Butler is almost ready to go to work, wearing a dark grey suit with a red tie. But he has a heart attack and he finds himself in a somewhat big white room with no door. Everything’s white, except for two black armchairs and a black TV screen. The room seems to have no walls, he is surrounded by a dazzling whiteness.]
Jerry Butler: What the hell is this place ? Where am I ? What happened ?

[Takes a few steps, stretches his hand out to reach a wall but finds nothing. Puts his hands quickly in his pockets out of fear. The angel comes from nowhere, behind Jerry, puts a hand on his shoulder which makes Jerry jump. The angel wears white trousers and a sky blue sweater. ]

The Angel: [With a sententious tone] Mortal flesh you were, dead you are. For now, it is time you followed me.

Jerry Butler: [incredulous] What ? No kidding ! Where I would follow you ? I won’t go anywhere with you ! There’s a meeting with my administrative board I have to attend to. The administrators, they rely on me. And I must be late by now. I can’t disappoint them ! Let me go !

The Angel: [softening his voice] I tell you, unfaithful, you are not to go anywhere without me. You don’t belong to this worldly place anymore. You are expected elsewhere; and you shall follow me.

Jerry Butler: I tell you, whoever you are ! I have business to do, factories to manage, shares to buy and sell. I work with administrators and financial institutions, I manage employees and factory workers. These worldly matters belong to me and I must attend to my responsibilities. Show me the way out and leave me alone.

The Angel: You shall understand that you are dead and that there is no more concern for you in the world …

Jerry Butler: I don’t give a shit about what you’re saying.

[Jerry’s face turns red out of anger, but the angel remains unflinching, his arms crossed]

Where is the way out ? Tell me or I’ll send my lawyer to deal with you!

The Angel: … You shall follow me, or you’ll be lost on the way.
Jerry Butler: What are you talking about? Don’t you see I’m still alive and healthy? I am still breathing, my heart’s still beating. Can’t you see that? Can’t you hear it? I tell you; I don’t know who you are but I won’t let you kidnap me and fool me like that.

[Jerry swings as hard as possible to take a punch at the angel, but his fist finds nothing and just goes through the head of the angel]

What the hell …

The Angel: You see? There is no way out, only a way forward. Your soul is giving you false impressions. You think you’re breathing, but there is no air; you think your heart’s beating but you had a severe heart attack. There is nothing for you to do, but follow me. If you still don’t believe me, please have a look.

[The TV screen is put on, Jerry looks at it and his eyes widen out of horror]

See, now? There’s nothing I can do for you, but show you the way forward. I’m just a messenger and a guide.

Jerry Butler: [falling on his knees and crying] I can’t believe it! Leave me alone!
The Angel: As you wish. You can call me later.

[He disappears. After a few long seconds, Jerry Butler stands up wearily and wanders around in the whiteness. He finally lets himself fall into one of the armchairs where he begins to speak to himself]

Jerry Butler: God, what am I going to do? Without me, everything will fall apart. There is nobody capable enough of taking over my position at the head of the companies. My administrators will fight for power and the group will collapse. Only I was strong enough to make all that coherent. And what about my family?

[He throws up his hands and shouts]

Oh God ! Who are you to let such a tragedy happen? Why have you allowed this to happen?

[He tries to calm down, sobbing]

What will my wife do on her own? She won’t be able to face anything without me. Who will accompany my daughter to the altar? She’s to be married in two weeks. And there’s still so much to do. The wedding is not ready yet. What about my sons? The elder is preparing for his final exams, he needs to feel safe and secure. The younger is not even five. How will he understand the loss of his father ?

[He starts crying with renewed intensity]

And who will take care of me, in this strange new world? Who will give me a helping hand? I can’t go alone into this scary place. Where are you, my friends?

[He finally lies down on the floor, like a foetus in his mother’s placenta]

The Angel: There, there. Come with me.
[He puts a hand on Jerry’s shoulder, helps him to get up and they go offstage]


An Afternoon of Words & Theatre 5: Christophe Cochet

One-act play, by Christophe COCHET
Staging by Caroline Apra and Jedd Betari
Extras : Soizic Bernard, Pascal
Benchimol, and Guillaume Ruop

[A bar, it is late. A man, half-drunk, half-asleep, is sipping a last drink. A woman in her thirties is also standing at the bar, daydreaming in front of her drink]

Men playing pool in background (Note: in the case of this performance, they were drinking and chatting in the background).

MAN: Didn’t find anyone tonight?

WOMAN: Sorry?

MAN: Yeah, girls like you generally find a bed for the night.

WOMAN: I am not sure I’m that kind of girl.

MAN: No need to argue, I’m not judging you. I’m happy not to be left alone for once.
[The woman scoots closer to the man.]

WOMAN: Let me tell you that I am not a prostitute. I’m not here waiting for a drunken man to pick me up, either. And I won’t allow a whisky-soaked loser to insult me.

MAN [to himself]: She’s got character!

WOMAN: I assume that you come here every night, tease hookers, and empty ten glasses an hour? You are getting a divorce from your wife who can’t stand your getting drunk. You have kids who don’t want to see you anymore. You lost your job some time ago, and that is how all this started.

MAN: Pretty close.

WOMAN: Now you hate the whole world, except the bitch who gives you pleasure once in a while.

MAN: Nice imagination. Had any bad experiences in a bar late at night recently?

WOMAN: Fuck off.

MAN: That’s what I thought.
[Silence between the two. You can hear men playing at a pool table.]

BARMAN: Want another one, Major?

WOMAN: No thanks, Larry. I think I’ll go.
[The woman grabs her purse.]

MAN: Major? You mean like in the army.

WOMAN: I thought I told you to fuck off.

MAN: You know, I was once in the army too. Not on the front of course, but I have seen some bad stuff.

WOMAN: I guess you didn’t have the balls to hold an M16.

MAN: You are the standing proof that it has nothing to do with balls.

WOMAN: You’re becoming smarter.

MAN: Or maybe I am just concealing my assets.

THE WOMAN: What’s the need? Who are you anyway?

MAN: So are you still in? In the army, I mean.

WOMAN: No. Well, yes. But not in the same unit.

MAN: You chose to leave, or were you asked to?

WOMAN: I left because I couldn’t take it anymore.

MAN: Where were you stationed?

WOMAN: Fallujah, Iraq.

MAN: You saw too many nasty things? You missed your family?

WOMAN: Yes and no.

MAN: That’s a concise answer.

WOMAN: I lost a complete platoon in a village ambush when I was responsible for the operation. And I lost my husband three years ago. No children.

MAN: And you think the best medicine is whisky?

WOMAN: No, vodka.

MAN: Character AND humor. Attractive.

WOMAN: I don’t know why I’m telling you about my life.

MAN: Because I asked you to.

BARMAN [to the men who were playing pool and are now leaving]: Good night. See you tomorrow.
[To the woman and man]: You’re the last ones, guys. It’s always you, Martin.

MAN: But I guess I’m not a bad customer, am I?
[The barman smiles and turns away.]

MAN: I’m not offering you a last drink.

WOMAN: No, thanks anyways.

MAN: Well, I think it’s gonna be time for bed.

WOMAN: Hey, wait a sec. You’re forgetting something.

MAN: What?

WOMAN: I told you about my life. I want to know about yours.

MAN: You’re sure you don’t want another drink?

WOMAN: Yes. So what do you do?

MAN: I’m a shrink.

WOMAN: Not bad. You’ve got your own office, or do you work in a hospital?

MAN: It depends.

WOMAN: If I am concise, you’re rather non-committal.

MAN: I said I was in the army. I was a psychiatrist there. I didn’t get to see the front but I met the guys who saw its horrors. I have never seen mutilated bodies lying in the dirt, but I have talked to many amputated GIs. And I can tell you that if they had had the balls to hold an M16, they didn’t have the mind to do so afterwards.

WOMAN: I understand.

MAN: I’m not sure you do, but let’s not get into a fight. I don’t think I would be on top.

WOMAN: I bet you wouldn’t.

MAN: However, I do know where I would be on top.

WOMAN: What do you mean?

MAN: Want to have sex?

[The end.]

An Afternoon of Words & Theatre 4: Qiu Gonghao

Dish Washer, by Qiu Gonghao
Staging by Agnés Fliscounakis and Hervé Desprets

This is a one act play with a husband and a wife, after dinner.

Husband: I’ve finished, darling.

Wife: What do you mean by that, Tom?

Husband: I mean, I’ve finished eating dinner, Jane.

Wife: And I should do the dishes. Is that what you mean?

Husband: I’d love to help, dear, but don’t forget that it’s Thursday night…

Wife: Right.

Husband: And I do the dishes only on weekends.

Wife: Listen, Tom. Our life needs a change.

Husband: A change? You do them 4 days a week and I’ll do them the other 3? Would that make you feel better?

Wife: No, a real change, Tom. A real one.

Husband: You do them on weekends and I’ll take the weekdays?!

Wife: No!

Husband: You’re challenging my authority in the family, Jane. It’s me who
makes the rules.

Wife: No darling, just a little change and there will be no tedious dish washing at all.

Husband: Are you asking me to take over the task of a woman?

Wife: No, darling, I am suggesting that we can by a dish washer, Tom. I’ve been asking you for one ever since the day we got married.

Husband: So you know the answer.

Wife: But I also want to know the reason.

Husband: Because it’s too expensive. We can’t afford it.

Wife: What! We can’t afford a dish washer which costs 300 bucks?

Husband: But it isn’t worth the price, Jane. You know those machines always do a bad job. We wash our dishes better then any dishwasher.

Wife: I am bored by the dreadful time spent washing dishes! It’s a waste of time!

Husband: Ok. So tell me, what will you do if you have 30 minutes of free time?

Wife: Talk with you.

Husband: Which means I will lose 30 minutes’ time of my own.

Wife: (Silence) That’s why you don’t want a dishwasher, Tom? You hate listening to me!

Husband: You said it, dear, not me.

Wife: Do you know how much time I have spent on this family? I make your breakfast, feed your dog, wash your dirty clothes, make the dinner and wash your gravy-covered dish, and you don’t have the least mercy for your pathetic wife?

Husband: Sounds bad eh?

Wife: What!

Husband: But think about me, Jane. It has been a luxury for me to have half an hour of my own after a hard day’s work. Am I asking too much?

Wife: Don’t you see I am comforting you and feel the pressure on you, and…

Husband: (shaking the wife’s shoulders) You are right, Jane. Our life needs a change.

Wife: A change? What kind of…? You mean, we’ll wash the dishes together from now on?

Husband: A real change, Jane. A real one.

Wife: Do you want to take over the washing?

Husband: No! Let’s make a deal. We will buy a dishwasher, and we will both have half an hour of free time, meaning that in that half hour you won’t try to bother me.

Wife: Bother you?

Husband: Or comfort me?

Wife: No way! That’s my answer, you selfish man! I’d rather do the dishes myself.

Husband: As you like, my dear.

Wife: But don’t forget tomorrow, Friday, it will be your turn to do them!

jeudi 19 février 2009

An Afternoon of Words & Theatre 3: Cédric Pasteur

Revenge of the Geek by Cedric Pasteur
Staging by Thomas Boulier (playing Michael)
and Youssef Benzakour (playing Sheldon, a.k.a. The Geek)

Cast of Characters : Sheldon, a geek.
Michael: A dumb student

Setting: In a dark dorm room. A laptop computer on one of the desks.

Time: Mid-afternoon.
[Sheldon is wearing a hoodie. Michael is dressed like a rapper with a big gold chain around his neck. Sheldon is working on his computer. The public can’t see the screen, just his hands typing in frenetic bursts on the keyboard. Michael enters the room. ]

Michael: Hey dude. My name’s Michael, I’m your new roommate. [Michael moves his hands towards Sheldon but he doesn’t seem to react. Shel­don keeps looking at the screen.]

Sheldon: Hi. Please excuse me if I don’t get up to welcome you but I am in the middle of something very important.

Michael: Don’t sweat it, dude. I wasn’t expecting any welcoming party. [Michael starts looking around.]

Sheldon: I am configuring my computer so I can access it remotely from any computer in the labs or from my computer back home. I have setup secured tunnels with SSH through the University proxy. This is actually very easy, so I created an IRC bot that could automatically set up the connection and environmental variables. In order to communicate efficiently between the bot and the main script, I used a socket...

Michael: Suck what ?
[Sheldon shakes his head.]

Sheldon: A socket. It is a special file used by Unix systems to communicate between programs on the same computer. Basically, it’s just a FIFO pipe.

[Michael freezes for a second. His face shows his concentration. ]

Michael: My big brother would love to talk with you. He knows all about pipes. He’s a plumber.

Sheldon: [Mumbling] This has nothing to do with... [Louder] As I said before, I don’t have time for small talk right now.

Michael: No problem, man. You won’t even notice I’m here. [Michael continues to check out the room. He sees the plasma lamp on the desk and plays with it.]

Michael: Awesome dude, you’ve got one of these cool lightning lamps.

Sheldon: [Still staring at the laptop’s screen] Please be careful. This thing is very fragile. For your information, it is called a plasma lamp, or an Inert Gas Discharge Tube, as its inventor, Nikola Tesla, first called it. What you see is the result of the ionization of an inert gas under low pressure thanks to the high frequency and high voltage current between the inner electrode and the outer glass that acts like an insulator.

Michael: [With his palm on the lamp] Look. I’m like that guy from Star Wars with lightning bolts coming from his hand.

Sheldon: That guy, as you call him, is the Emperor a.k.a. Darth Sidious, Dark Lord of the Sith a.k.a. Senator Palpatine from Naboo when he started plotting against the Republic. Did you know that it's the same actor, Ian McDiarmid, who portrays the Emperor in Episode VI back in 1983 and Palpatine in the prequel trilogy?

Michael: Woah. That’s an amazing story. You must have picked up so many chicks with it. [Michael laughs out loud. Sheldon waits a few seconds before answering.]

Sheldon: Wait. [Looks closely at the screen] I think you should see this.

Michael: [excited] What? What is it?

Sheldon: [With the same serious tone.] I just received an email for you. It’s Mister T. He wants his jewelry back.

Michael: Well, I got a message for you, It’s ... [Freezes for a few seconds trying to find something clever to say] It’s McGyver and... and he says you’re a nerd.

Michael: That doesn’t make any sense.

Michael: [Pointing at Sheldon’s face] Neither does your face.

Sheldon: Let me google it. [Types on his keyboard] I was right. It’s exactly what I thought. The Wikipedia page says that your joke stopped being funny in 1998.

Michael: [Gets really angry] Stop messing with me. You think you’re better than me just because you know all these useless things.
[Michael takes his jacket ff and does some push-ups]

Michael: [Doing some boxer moves] Come here, wuss. We’ll see who’s the bigger man.
[Sheldon slowly closes his laptop, takes of his hoodie off to reveal his suprisingly strong arms and stands up. He is twenty centimeters taller than Michael.]

Sheldon: [With a very intimitading expression.] Who’s the bigger man now?

Michael: [Putting his arm on Sheldon’s shoulder] Come on, bro. You know I was kid­ding.

[Sheldon grasps Michael’s arm and takes it off his shoulder, then stares at Michael for a few seconds. He starts moving his arm and Michael flees]
Final Photos: The Creative Writing Class at Polytechnique, promo 2006, with Cédric at center and the lamp from his play.

An Afternoon of Words and Theatre 2: William Matthew Yon

Matthew Yon

Poly-technicien, age 22, wearing a suit.
Judge, in her early 50s. wearing an evening gown that could look a little worn out.
Waiter, French palace style, snub, wearing a black suit with a white shirt and bow tie. His head is always looking upwards, and his neck is stretched, giving the impression that he scorns everyone. He should interact with the audience: whenever they laugh he puffs in disdain, turns his head and walks away and then slowly comes back. He has an extremely strong French accent.

[The scene takes place during a wedding dinner. In the centre of the stage is one table laid with fine crockery, prepared to sit ten. The table is oval or rectangular shaped, its broad side facing the audience. Four chairs are placed on each side, and one on each end. A sound device should simulate background conversation, noise and music, suggesting the large number of invitees, and the overall luxury of the ceremony.]

[Marie-Chantal, wearing an appropriate, is already seated on a central chair facing the audience.]

ENTERS – Grégoire, coming ondstage from the left, taking slow steps backwards

GREGOIRE : [Addressing someone off stage, left.] …pleasure was all mine, duchess. Enjoy the diner, or as we say in France, Bon Appétit! [He comes towards the table.]

ENTERS – Waiter, right.

[The waiter strolls around the table, going from chair to chair, pulling them back and forth as if to seat someone. During the process, Grégoire sees MARIE-CHANTAL and walks to her, intending to say hello and to introduce himself formally. He stands before her, and she sees that, but does not stand up as he seems to have expected.]

GREGOIRE : Evening, Madame. [He bows his head] It appears we shall be neighbours for dinner.

MARIE-CHANTAL : [Coldly] Good evening, young man. [Bluntly] May I ask who you are?

GREGOIRE : I’m Grégoire Lamartin, a friend of the bride.

[The waiter has finished seating everyone, and now begins serving the starters]

MARIE-CHANTAL : Oh, I see! [Fatuously] You’ll excuse my enquiry, but you see, I’m a judge, and I tend to be faced with the real world a little too often. Recently I’ve read many governmental reports about fine-looking young men who crash wedding parties merely for the food and inebriated young ladies. I feel reassured to see that I won’t have to sentence my dinner neighbour!

GREGOIRE : [Seating himself next to her] I see, Madame, no offence taken. I guess that being suspicious comes with the territory [mockingly] when one exercises such an honourable profession.

MARIE-CHANTAL : Indeed, in fact that’s hardly flattery at all… You have no idea! [Cooler]And you forgot to ask my name, by the way. I’m Marie-CHANTAL Dawner.

GREGOIRE : Well, Madam Dawner, it’s a pleasure to …

[She sees someone more interesting on her left side, and starts talking to him]

MARIE-CHANTAL : Good evening Mr Cox. Enjoying the evening?

GREGOIRE : [To no one in particular/himself] Never mind…

WAITER : [Coughs loudly, followed by silence] Mesdames et messieurs, Noix de Saint-Jacques piquées de pétales de courgettes et gingembre rose, dans un bouillon parfumé. For translation, please learn to speak French!

[He comes to the right edge of the stage, facing the audience. The background noise starts again, but adding knives and forks sounds. Characters eat when not talking.]

GREGOIRE : [Speaking towards the chairs on his side of the table] So, have you managed to talk to the groom, Mr 4? … Oh yes indeed, he is a fine speaker. That’s hardly surprising given that the boy went to the best law school in the world.

MARIE-CHANTAL : [Loudly] A delightful wedding indeed! My dear Albert would have loved that, I mean, he would have loved meeting everyone in such a charming place! [Mildly] Of course, I do not mean that he would have supported this foolish choice of a groom. I just cannot understand how respectable parents can sometimes be so weak…

GREGOIRE : His hobbies? Well, you’re asking a little too much, Mr 2. In fact I hardly know him. All I can say is that he has made a great first impression. Yet, now you’re asking me, he may have said something about sailors’ knots…

MARIE-CHANTAL : I mean, Mr C, I have never thought of them as prodigies in terms of parenthood, but then again… surrendering so willingly to that young lady’s fantasies. I just don’t understand. [Lower] I mean, a young girl may like chocolate very much, but it’s up to her mother to make her understand that vanilla is just as fine, and far more suitable for an old family heiress. I mean, it’s not like this one will run for president.

GREGOIRE : [astounded by what he hears next to him,Gregoire speaks a little louder but chooses not to interrupt] Well, from what I heard, they studied together at Harvard, but it really was this first internship that brought them together.

MARIE-CHANTAL : No, definitely not. I, as a mother, would never let my daughter rush into a marriage with an unknown person that could just as well turn her life –and my reputation– into a hell. First of all, a good union is the result of proper acquaintances. Then it requires the parents’ proficiency in match-making in order to select the right boy. I have always deemed that the only way to meet someone is either through the parents’ enlightened guidance, or during debutante balls.

GREGOIRE : Sorry Mr 3, I didn’t quite hear you… Oh, music? Well, I really think he’s fond of music, for when we talked, he mentioned he had a membership card to the Opera.

MARIE-CHANTAL : Anyway, let’s change the subject. Human mistakes are a subject that, alas, troubles me far too often. I’m a , you see… So, where did you go on your holidays, Mr B? I heard the wildest speculations about your going to a cold place in August! [She listens] Oh… You went to ski in New Zealand! [laughs] Wild indeed.

GREGOIRE : Yes, I went to see Fantasio last week. Brilliant performance in my opinion, not that I am any expert in theatre! Have you seen it? No? Oh, you really should. And you could take your grandson there, introduce him to a classic.

MARIE-CHANTAL : Last time I went skiing it was with, sniff, my dear Albert. But the place was overcrowded with those young scoundrels who skim over the snow like crabs. I don’t want to emit a judgement when I’m not on duty, but once again, I blame the parents. Responsible parents should force their offspring to go straight! I mean, it does not take a genius to see there’s something wrong with these snowboards. Nature wants people to go straight [pause] forward.

WAITER [answering his phone] Someone’s en retard you say? I would say terribly en retard! In fact, all the seats are taken, we are complet! What? No Monsieur, this is the excellence of French cuisine, we don’t squeeze our guests together to add a seat! What did you say? That we always do that in France? Monsieur, cela suffit! [hangs up]

MARIE-CHANTAL : [Turning to Gregoire] My dear Gordon…

GREGOIRE : Gregoire, ma’am.

MARIE-CHANTAL : Gregoire, sorry. My dear Gregoire, do you know how to ski?

GREGOIRE : I was raised in the Alps, so yes, I ski fairly well. Yet I haven’t…

MARIE-CHANTAL : … And you must think, like the rest of us, that snowboards shouldn’t be allowed on the slopes, right? They merely deserve to be sunk into a swamp.


MARIE-CHANTAL : You’re absolutely right. So, tell me please, since you seem to speak decently, I suppose you’re still a student? So tell me, how are your studies going?

GREGOIRE : [struggles to keep his composure ] Hum… You said? Oh, my studies are going on well.

MARIE-CHANTAL : You’re at, how do they call it again? BAC, yes, thank you Mr B. So you’re at BAC plus…? How old are you, by the way?

GREGOIRE : plus 5, and I’m 22.

MARIE-CHANTAL : [mildly interested] so you’re ambitious, you’re into advanced education, the long haul. Makes me remember my own…

GREGOIRE : Indeed, it’s starting to feel a little long, but it’s ok as I can still manage to find a little time to write! And Paris,… Hemingway was right, having the chance to live in Paris as a young man is an experience that’ll probably stay with me all my life.

MARIE-CHANTAL : And where are you studying?

GREGOIRE : In Paris.

MARIE-CHANTAL : In Paris. Must be expensive for your parents, isn’t it?

GREGOIRE : Actually, I’m paid.


GREGOIRE : The French Army.

MARIE-CHANTAL : A student-soldier. Well, that’s peculiar. So tell me, you said you liked to write. Are you studying literature? A poet soldier [chuckles then grows serious, raising a finger] Let me tell you, that from the number of drunk wannabe-playwrights that I’ve sentenced, this domain seems to be quite a slippery slope. Especially for those who go down that slope on a snowboard! [She laughs alone. Waiter coughs twice, annoyed by the sound.]

GREGOIRE : Well, no. Actually, I’m more into science.

MARIE-CHANTAL : Science, you say? Are you an ambitious young man trying to become a doctor?


MARIE-CHANTAL : Right, I didn’t suppose so, either. But it’s ok, you know. As long as eventually the two ends meet.

GREGOIRE : [annoyed] actually, my mother, who’s a doctor, deterred me from that job. She said the pay didn’t meet the effort, unless you had a heart of stone. So…

MARIE-CHANTAL : … you’re in a law school! There’s so much I could teach you then!

GREGOIRE : I’m at the Ecole Polytechnique.

MARIE-CHANTAL : Oh… [looks ashamed for an instant] Well… congratulations! [pause] Would you perhaps know… errr… What’s his name again?

GREGOIRE : [despairingly] tell me.

MARIE-CHANTAL : Marc Duchêne, no… Yes that’s it, Marc Duchateau! He was the son of our neighbours back when we, me and my dear Albert, lived in Lyon. I heard he managed to pass the entrance quiz.

GREGOIRE : It’s not really a quiz…

MARIE-CHANTAL : Anyway his parents must have felt quite relieved, for one would never have deemed him good for anything. I remember the first time I met him. He was 4 and carved his cake into geometric shapes when he ate. I always thought his mind never landed on earth. So would you be so lucky as to know the little brat?

GREGOIRE : No ma’am. He’s definitely not in my year, but would you happen to know the year he got in? Or his age?

MARIE-CHANTAL : Oh yes, he got in 6 years ago.

GREGOIRE : Then I could hardly know…

MARIE-CHANTAL : … and there’s also my brother-in-law’s cousin. She had a daughter who must be 27 by now.

GREGOIRE : Again, ma’am, it’s pretty unlikely that I would know her.

MARIE-CHANTAL : [not listening] She married another X. That’s how you call each other right? I heard figures that said over 80% of your female peers end up married with other students from the school.

GREGOIRE : Actually, those figures were global, and indicated that nowadays, young people who pursue college degrees tend to meet their soul mates at university; as is illustrated by tonight’s happy Harvard couple.

MARIE-CHANTAL : They both went to Harvard?

GREGOIRE : My guess is that would be the reason for all the Harvard flags around us [signals with a wave of his hand the flags which the audience can suppose therefore are draped above and behind them along the walls].

WAITER : [answers his phone again] Mr 5 is coming after all? He’s a cousin of the bride? Oh… Well, sir, I guess he should come. My mistake. Still, all the seats are taken. Yes, right. I’ll check the listing and then call you right back.


MARIE-CHANTAL : I also heard the girls in your school were not, how should I put this… Very feminine. Would you agree with this?

GREGOIRE : I beg to differ.

MARIE-CHANTAL : Oh… has Mr X fallen for an X-branded girl?

GREGOIRE [laughs] No, no. Most surely not.

MARIE-CHANTAL : Well, I happen to have a daughter, slightly younger than you. A smart girl, she’s in her first year of sociology studies at the Ecole Supérieure de Versailles! [To her side of the table] Yes, we have moved to Versailles. I really appreciate the place. It’s so full of respectable people, a little piece of heaven on earth, attached to fundamental values. [She smiles as if dreaming and turns back to Gregoire] My daughter’s young, but already looks as good as me when I was 20! Take a look, I have a picture here. [takes out a picture from her handbag] Well, that one’s a picture of me when I was 20, but here’s another one, of her. [takes out a second photo] Isn’t she gorgeous?

GREGOIRE : [embarrassed] As fine a complexion as her mother’s indeed.

MARIE-CHANTAL : Would you want to meet her? I mean, you wouldn’t be signing up for anything, it wouldn’t be an engagement… though it could eventually become one, of course!

GREGOIRE : That’s, is really,… err… generous! But I have to decline. I’m sorry.

WAITER enters with a sheet of paper, checking the invitees to find the intruder.

MARIE-CHANTAL : So there’s someone after all. No problem, my good boy. Still, would you have any friends, perhaps acquaintances, who are desperately single, even if they look as bad as the average engineer… just let me know! [she winks at him]

GREGOIRE : I’ll see to it. I’m sure your daughter could fulfil a lonely X’s heart.

WAITER : Madame, could you remind me of your name, please?

MARIE-CHANTAL : Surely my dear lad, I’m Marie-CHANTAL Dawner.

WAITER : bends and whispers in her ear. She suddenly looks terribly pale.

MARIE-CHANTAL : Well, it appears duty is calling me again, and I will have to leave your pleasant company. [She stands up] My dear Grégoire, [he stands up] I recall your school is holding a debutante ball soon… at the Opera.

GREGOIRE : yes, that would be the Bal de l’X.

MARIE-CHANTAL : Please, try to have my Lily invited, and I’ll make arrangement so that you’ll get an opportunity to teach her how to ski during the next winter holidays.

WAITER : coughs loudly, impatient.

GREGOIRE : I assure you I’ll do my best to pim(p)… err… to put your daughter into the most righteous hands. Still, I would make a poor ski instructor, as I’m really into snowboarding.

MARIE-CHANTAL : Oh… I see! Well… if it comes to that, I’ve always suspected my elder son of being curious about snowboarding…

WAITER : [losing patience] Madame! This is not a brothel, and the actual invitee will be here soon!

MARIE-CHANTAL : [embarrassed] He means… I found someone to replace me in order to keep you entertained!

GREGOIRE : I know, that would be the bride’s cousin.

MARIE-CHANTAL : You know each other?

GREGOIRE : He and I are well, kind of acquainted, yes.

MARIE-CHANTAL : Good night, and keep me posted!

GREGOIRE : Farewell!


An Afternoon of Words & Theatre 1: Rémi Ferrier

Untitled Play, by Rémi Ferrier
staged by Stéphanie Gantois and Cyril Becquart (pictured by red bar)
with extras : Agnés Fliscounakis & Hervé Desprets (pictured at tall table)

At the Bôbar : the bobarman and a serious student.
The bobarman : not well dressed, his hair uncombed.
The serious student : very clean with freshly combed hair, glasses and a shirt under his pullover.

The bobarman is cleaning behind the bar. The serious student enters and waits at the bar but the bobarman continues to clean and walk back and forth behind the bar. The serious student gestures to the bobarman.

Bobarman : I’m sorry, there is no water here

Student : [ surprised ] What ?
Bobarman : [Picks up and drinks from his beer] I said we don’t serve water today. I’m sorry but you should try the lady’s !!

Student : What’s happened ?

Bobarman : You’ve never heard of water shortages in Africa ? We have decided to support their cause and to stop serving water in this bar. In this way we’re helping little Africans to get water from their Rain God.
Student : Is this a joke or something ?

Bobarman : No, no, I’m being very serious, I read it in the I.K. last week.

Student : [smiling and shaking his head] This is the worst theory I’ve ever heard. I don’t even want to argue with you. Can I have a glass of water please?

Bobarman : I told you, it’s impossible.
Student : I promise I will send one bottle to the poor children starving in Africa as soon as I get back home, isn’t that enough ?

Bobarman : That is very kind of you, and I’m certain that if every student here had such noble intentions the world would be a better place.

Student : Now, can you give me some water please ?

Bobarman : I’m afraid you haven’t understood me quite right. We have cut the water, so it’s impossible.

Student : What? It’s far for me to judge the idea that you are a stupid alcoholic and a desperate fellow, but what the hell happened in your empty mind of an idiot? Did you think for even one second?

Bobarman : [Sips his beer, bent over the bar] of what ?

Student : Simple question : how do you wash things without water ??

Bobarman : simple answer : we don’t wash them, we have enough plastic cups to serve people until 2020.

Student : What happens if somebody wants something other than a beer?

Bobarman : Oh, we have plenty of juice, and we have one bottle of mineral water. You know, in case of emergency.

Student : [looking desperately at the bobarman] But – no – but – you can’t do that, can you?

Bobarman : I don’t see what the problem with this is, you know, in Germany beer is cheaper than water. I’ve even heard that when you buy a house now they ask you if you want running water or beer running out of the tap. – oh, we should do that ! – put a cistern of beer under the bob and have it directly from the spigot, on tap, what a good idea ! beer in your sink, the world at your feet !

Student : [to the public] How did he get into this school ? Either the exam he took was about a beer under pressure in a bottle, or the examiner was more drunk than he is.
[to the bobarman] But tell me one thing, Imagine you get sick – let’s say, for example – this is just an hypothesis of course – let’s say you have a huge hangover, like the one you get after drinking the whole night and you don’t remember how you got back home – this is just an example of course – then you want to drink water here, what do you do ?
Bobarman : [very naturally] The best remedy for a hangover as far as I know is to drink a beer straight after getting up! [He takes a drink of his beer, as if for emphasis]

Student : You are such an alcoholic, I can’t understand why they let you put yourself in such a state and don’t kick your ass out of this bar.

Bobarman : Me, an alcoholic ? No way !! The characteristic of an alcoholic is that he cannot stop drinking. As for me, I can stop drinking alcohol from now on and you won’t even notice the difference.

Student : Then why don’t you?

Bobarman : Because I don’t want to.

Student : Then I say you can’t !!

Bobarman : Look, I’ve been quite polite up until now, but if you are going to start insulting me and treating me like a fucking drunkard I won’t be so nice.

Student : Easy, easy, I’m trying to help you here. I’m just saying, if you want to keep your place in this school, you know, keep studying, perhaps you had better stop drinking and go to class.

Bobarman : [smiling] Well, until now things have not gone so badly, I’m not worried about my future.

Student : What do you mean ?

Bobarman : I’m just saying beer gives you a different approach to the exams, and my method has been quite successful so far.
Student : [astonished] Really?? Like what? You have nothing to retake, nothing to still pass, so you’re saying you’re a genius?
Bobarman : Be cool mister I-work-hard-every-night-to-get-good-marks, the fact is the corps, the mines, must have found something in my way of thinking that they find interesting.

Student : [quite lost, doesn’t believe it] You mean, that you – I mean such an alcoholic as you are – your never going to class is between the 20 first students ??

Bobarman : God bless you.
[to the public] Freshmen are so naïve nowadays.

Student : Ok, forget this stupid story about water, just give me a beer.

Bobarman: [handing him a plastic pint] Here you are, a passport to party; no coming back.