Theater: women speak out after a long silence

Five women speak out after years of sacrifice

Posted today at 5:01 p.m.

Each in their own spot, there are five of them facing the audience of the Galpon, in mourning clothes, seated in a row from oldest to youngest. Five black keys of the same piano, which sound in turn their independent melodies or their dissonant chords. Two sharps for the mother and grandmother, three flats for the sisters. Punctuated with silences and sighs, their choral score will be performed most of the time in sixteenth notes, obeying nuances passing from mezza-voce to fortissimo. A requiem, indeed. Their: “I was in my house waiting for the rain to come.”

Wonderful Yvette Théraulaz, in the role of “the oldest”, who reconnects with her energy from 1997, when she played “the mother” in the same play by Jean-Luc Lagarce.

Because their lives have dissipated, canceled by the supremacy of two men: an older one, this now deceased father, who once chased his only boy from the fold, one evening during an argument. And “that one”, the “younger brother”, who has since disappeared without a trace, who resurfaces today only to collapse, and die, perhaps, in the next room. For so many endless years, the gynoecium watched for a sign, hoped for a reunion, putting its own story on hold. For these five, the action – the theater – did not take place.

The autobiographical part

In 1994, the playwright Jean-Luc Lagarce (“Last remorse before oblivion”, “Just the end of the world”, “The Far Country”…) allows them a revenge by opening the floodgates of their words, all the more tumultuous because they have been erased. The author himself fled his family in his youth, then continued to fantasize his return as a prodigal son in his plays. He wrote it a year before his death, when he knew he was soon to be condemned by the AIDS he was harboring.

Sophie Lukasik is “the mother”, a hieratic family pillar serving this son who has been absent since her late husband chased him away.

The director Elidan Arzoni discovered it in 1997, during its posthumous creation by Joël Jouanneau, in which the great French-speaking actress Yvette Théraulaz played the role of the mother. Upset, he still dreams, twenty-five years later, of attributing it to her as “the oldest” in his personal reinterpretation of the work. Great good comes to her, since, at the height of a brilliant casting carried out by auditions, the actress surpasses herself in terms of accuracy and intensity.

Incomparable Anna Budde as the older sister of the young man expected of all, the most lucid, who became a teacher.

This is because, from behind the scenes, the man in the situation does not operate the female quintet like anyone else. The purity of its scenographic device supports a game that is the antithesis of psychology, to embody a text full of loops and spirals – we speak of epanorthosis, this figure of speech which sees the speaker constantly self-correcting.

Nastassja Tanner, the most sensual of the three abandoned sisters, has not yet completely given up on being the center of her life.

However, rather than a groping or confused Lagarce, we are dealing with incisive, energetic couplets, which dig deeper than they confuse. These women in the shadows do not have to look for themselves, they have had plenty of time to define themselves: their sharp tongue contrasts with their status as helpless victims.

Délia Antonio plays the youngest daughter traumatized by the violence, the one who “did not count and never counted”.

And if the angry males have not managed to cohabit on the same stage without excluding each other, those who will end up welcoming the rain there have sharpened their “vociferous” speech in the promiscuity of the margins and the urgency of the wait. A word that is both singular and collective carried at arm’s length by Sophie Lukasik, Anna Budde, Nastassja Tanner, Délia Antonio and Yvette Théraulaz.

“I was in my house waiting for the rain to come”until May 26 at the Théâtre du Galpon, www.galpon.ch

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Katia Berger has been a journalist in the cultural section since 2012. She covers news in the performing arts, particularly through theater or dance reviews, but also sometimes deals with photography, visual arts or literature.More informations

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