In an article in Le Monde on 2 July, called “piece rapportées (patches, afterthoughts)”, Brigitte Salino inquires about a trend in contemporary theatre : out of the twenty-four plays presented at the 2016 Avignon festival, six were stamped “inspired by” and not “by”.
When I go to see The Miser at the Comédie Française it’s The Miser “by” Molière.
What would The Miser “inspired by” Molière be like? It would be a Miser rewritten from the first line.
According to Brigitte Salino, in theatre today the starting point is not always a play ; it is often a novel, and sometimes a film (like The Damned de Ivo van Hove “inspired by” Visconti in Avignon 2016) – a rewrite is thus unavoidable.
But, she stresses, this trend is equally due to the evolution of the function of the director : the director has become an author, starting from a primary text they produce a secondary text that they stage. Thus, in transforming the first text he puts himself and his vison in the second. It is only in the third analysis that he shows, he stages. Thus Julien Gosselin presented 2666, “inspired by” Roberto Bolano’s novel, at Avignon 2016 (he had shown Elementary particles (Les particules élémentaires) in 2013 “inspired by” Michel Houellebecq’s novel).
But in this so direct art that is theatre the drifts are controlled by the public and critics. The director-author remains a modest character, sandwiched between two scared monsters, the art of writing and the art of the stage. He is the “ferryman” between the two. At the most Jean Bellorini (who presented a Karamazov at Avignon) or Julien Gosselin could fulminate that they have been saddled with an “inspired by”. One would have preferred a “chosen pieces from The Brothers Karazamov”, the other a “by Roberto Bolano”. But the original work is still present, impossible to ignore.
What about other art forms? In Apocalypse Now where Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness is not even mentioned? In Kamel Daoud’s The Mersault Investigation (Meursault contre-enquête), which should have been called The Mersault Investigation “inspired by” Albert Camus’ The Stranger, or Boualem Sansal’s 2084, which should have been called 2084 “inspired by” Thérèse Fournier’s 2028? The Areopagus of literature samplers, always in a hurry to crown those who serve “political correctness”, awarded these last two novels the Prix du Premier Roman (First Novel Prize) 2015 and the Academie Française’s Grand Prix du Roman (Great Novel Prize)!
So yes! Long live the theatre, the art of the stage and of the directors Gosselin, Bellorini, van Hove, Warlikowski and Lupa – guarantors of original works.
Thérèse Fournier. July 2016.