Projects

The Letter Writer 2007 - 2010

Monstres à Domicile 2005

Divines Paroles 2005 - 2006

 

Performance Venues

Le Théâtre Romain Rolland

Le Théâtre de Cachan, Le Théâtre de Corbeil Essonne, Le Théâtre 13, Le Théâtre de Lisieux, ATP de Biarritz – Le Casino, La Celle Saint Cloud

Circa Theatre, Wellington, New Zealand

La Comédie de Picardie

 

Touring

The Letter Writer

March 2010 International Arts Festival, New Zealand

2010/2011 - Touring in France

 

In Preparation

Dispossessed, by Juliet O’Brien

 


 

The Letter Writer

by Juliet O’Brien

Synopsis

A Letter Writer is asked by a young man, exiled from his country, to write letters for him. Fascinated by the energy and idealism of the young exile, the Writer finds both a new lease of life and the son he never had.

2Mr Rouvesquen, a professional Letter Writer, lives in the wealthy and peaceful country of Zurniken. While offering his services to those in need of words to express their problems and feelings, he himself maintains a cynical distance with the world. One day, a young man called Lansko, a refugee from the totalitarian state of Morland, asks for his help. He is illiterate and barely speaks the language of Zurniken and so needs Rouvesquen’s services to fill out administrative documents and to apply for Political Asylum, and more personally, to write letters to his wife back in Morland. In spite of his difficult situation, perilous journey and titanic efforts to cross the Zurniken border, Lansko is the incarnation of youth and optimism, qualities which the cynical Rouvesquen has long since lost. Little by little, Rouvesquen is charmed by the young man’s character and becomes attached to him. Rouvesquen imperceptibly begins to play an increasingly important role in Lansko’s life. Their exchanges become more profound, their relationship unconsciously changes into that of a father and son, to such an extent that Rouvesquen gradually loses his professional distance. One morning, a letter arrives at the Writer’s home from Lansko’s country, Morland. Rouvesquen sees that the news is so horrible that it will not only break Lansko’s heart but will also inevitably lead to the end of their relationship. Rouvesquen, incapable of telling the truth to Lansko, lies to him about the letter. A lie that creates a fiction that has to be sustained by more lies to protect the young man, but which ultimately render him more dependent upon Rouvesquen’s services.

Director’s Note

1"The Letter Writer” is situated in an imaginary world which is, however, culturally and historically similar to ours. The purpose of this setting is twofold: the public can more objectively observe this fable and the themes it evokes while at the same time feel implicated. Initially the stage is divided into two spaces, defining the two worlds of Lansko: that which he has left behind and the new world in which he finds himself. The space gradually disintegrates as a visual metaphor for Rouvesquen’s psychological development following his first lie. Nothing remains fixed - constant. The ever growing fragility of their bond is symbolised by a loss of bearings in the space and by a progressive dismantling of the set. Nothing will be as it was at the beginning of the story. The play’s realistic writing is complemented by strong and poetic imagery. As with cinematographic language, ellipses are used to pass the time, to voyage into the past or to illustrate a dream. These ellipses are signalled by the intervention of music, a change of space or the intensification of a gesture creating a close-up before opening out onto a new setting. The realistic writing at the beginning of the play creates a recognisable and coherent world, a well established order, characters situated in a predictable and comfortable environment. As the story evolves, the Writer’s dilemma transforms into a nightmare allowing for more transposed staging and writing. The stage empties, the rhythm of the scenes accelerates, reinforcing the obsessive nature of the lies slowly consuming the Writer. The young exile’s language is invented; a hybrid language, the sources of which are indiscernible but the intentions comprehensible. The invention of this culture, its language, music and customs mean that the problematic of the play is not reduced to a moment in history or a particular political context.

Exile

3The “Letter Writer” is a story of Exile: the exile of a young man who leaves everything he loves in the hope of living a better life and sharing it with those he loves ; the exile of a Writer who retires from the world, abandoning all utopian ideas, responsibility and faith in human beings; the exile of those whose fears and anguish hinder them from confronting their problems and who – exiled from their own words require the help of an intermediary. « The Letter Writer » is also a love story: the love a young man has for his wife and the country he has left behind; the love he has for life itself, believing fully in the possibility of renewal; the love born of his encounter with the Writer who relives in the face of this brave young man. Exile is a complex state. Those exiled oscillate between the possibilities the future holds and the strong nostalgia for their roots. For those who juggle with these forces, the path will never be simple, and even more so, if the choice is forced. The memory of absolute happiness is often the place where childhood was lived: to leave this place is never an easy choice.