Who is Julia Vidit, the face of the Théâtre de la Manufacture de Nancy?

© Vincent Zobler

Actress and director, Julia Vidit has just signed for three more years as director of the Théâtre de la Manufacture. Defending an art that is rooted in its time and geared towards diverse audiences, she shares her vision of commitment and her worried view of the future of culture.

Don’t wait until it’s too late. By speaking out a few days ago, the day after the results of the European elections and the political announcements that followed, Julia Vidit made herself the voice of her artistic community. It was just after the presentation of the NJP’s programming and too bad if it dampened the mood a little, because expressing concern couldn’t wait. A reminder that culture is already the first victim of a policy of degradation of public service that has been going on for several years: “If there is no real will today to give back, to refinance these places, I think that it will slowly come to an end. But like all public services, I want to say. And resorting to the extreme right is a response to this abandonment, but a bad response. If the National Rally comes to power on July 7, I fear that we are heading for disaster. We will have to enter into resistance.”

We find Julia Vidit a few days later, within the walls of the theater that she took over in January 2021. She is a little calmer but still ready to pounce on one of her favorite themes: commitment. After almost four years at the head of the Théâtre de la Manufacture, this actress and director has been able to leave her personal touch and her vision by varying the formats, by offering a program that seeks to conquer new audiences. Julia Vidit sees her Manufacture in the first sense of the term: as a place where we manufacture above all.

“Our theater is a place of creation, there is little space for pure and simple programming. I gave myself the mission of defining what, for me, is interesting on stage, that already restricts the field. That is to say, to say that we want artists who speak to others, who are in touch with the world, who invent forms. This hyperspecialization is made possible because in Nancy, there are many other places that offer other artistic forms, a ballet, an opera, and even a national stage in Vandœuvre that can explore multiple avenues.”

Outside the walls

Since her arrival at the CDN La Manufacture, Julia Vidit has taken care to take the theatre outside its walls: “Even if we need to isolate ourselves to create, I like going to schools or colleges, because there is nothing like it to anchor us in real life. I think that’s great, because it scratches the daily grind of teachers and students. It opens everyone’s horizons a little.” And it is perhaps because she herself started theatre in middle school that Julia Vidit likes to return to it. In Thionville precisely, in a class with a flexible schedule where she was introduced to theatre practice and discovered the repertoire. Later, it was at the Conservatoire National Supérieur d’Art Dramatique in Paris that she deepened her learning from 2000 to 2003.

She first discovered a passion for the simple fact of acting: “I like the feeling of acting, because it’s a real paradox. At the same time, it’s an escape to act, and at the same time, it’s like really being in the world. So, you could say that it’s an escape but also that it’s a refuge.” In 2006, she created her own company and explored decentralized forms in order to address audiences more distant from cultural structures: “I wanted to transmit the pleasure of theater to others. Wondering how locals could come to the theater, how to meet them, how to make it an art that is accessible. In my shows, there is always this idea that someone who would come to the room, who would never have been to the theater, could watch and would not feel stupid, would not feel excluded.”

Need for justice

This imperative of openness that guides Julia Vidit’s work also results from her commitment. A vast notion when confronted with an artist. But she thinks she has the beginnings of an answer: “For me, commitment is a translation of a need for justice.” A need for justice that she believes she gets from her education – her brother and sister also share it – as a way of approaching the world with a whole relationship.

“We realize that we have this in common: we don’t close our eyes, we don’t let things go.” Looking back at family history, Julia Vidit also finds an explanation in the narration of the actions of her maternal grandmother, a member of the Resistance during the Second World War: “It’s always very delicate to be proud of being the granddaughter of a member of the Resistance. But I’ve been told a lot about the story of this branch of the family, the fact that at that time, they took a stand, they decided to hide, to work against the invader…”

So obviously when it came to taking the microphone in this period of political uncertainty, Julia Vidit’s hand trembled less. There was no question of playing pretense, even if masks are common in the theater. “It still ties in with my obsession with truth, because I think that theater is really an exercise in truth. When you’re interested in theater, it’s because you have a desire for truth. While everything is false, and that’s the most beautiful paradox!”

His book of the moment

When I say nothing I still think

There are a lot of books that I love. Right now it’s Quand je ne dis rien je pense encore by Camille Readman Prud’homme – an author who comes from Montreal – it’s very accessible poetry, it’s so human… It’s been a while since I read poetry and it feels so good! Among the texts that have left their mark on me there is Des arbres à abattre by Thomas Bernhard, a novel about pretense, very well written, very structured. He’s a genius. I also like the imagination and style of Salman Rushdie, I’m currently rereading Haroun and the Sea of ​​Stories, a sort of totally crazy journey.

His music

Everything is fine

In music too I like to share my discoveries. At the moment there is a guy I find great, Ezéchiel Pailhès with a weakness for the song Éternel été, released from the album Tout va bien, it’s very beautiful. I’m not a fan of any particular group but among the artists I listen to very often there are the Pixies – especially the album Doolittle – and Niagara. I also like classical music, with my brother at the moment we are listening to harpsichord pieces, it’s quite melodic and very ancestral.

His dish

Semolina rounds

This is a recipe from my grandmother: Floraline cooked in milk with olive oil, nutmeg and Gruyere cheese. She uses a glass to make small circles and presto! it browns in the oven. It’s the taste of childhood…

They are rest

Little Japan

I don’t have a canteen in Nancy but several addresses that I like, I like the Petit Japon at the covered market in Nancy, the Grand Sérieux for the brasserie side where you eat very well. Among my favorite addresses there is also the Regain bakery, their breads are incredible. I also have a weakness for the chocolate éclairs from Miller.

Son coin secret

Metz Cathedral

When I need to recharge my batteries I like to go to Metz Cathedral, nothing to do with the cult side, it evokes my childhood. I was born in Nancy but I grew up in Metz. What do I like? The atmosphere, the height… For the same reasons I like to go for a walk in the Museum of Fine Arts in Nancy. Seeing works of art always does me good.

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