Poet, author of more than a hundred plays, a diary in five volumes, the Swedish playwright and director Lars Noren (1944-2021) was a prolific artist who marked a number of European stages with his powerful writing, including Comedy -French.
The Parisian institution has programmed it three times with Embrasser les ombres in 2005, Pur in 2009 and Poussière in 2018, a play on aging and the passing of time (1). Written expressly for the actors of the troupe, this final opus by Lars Noren, which has since entered the repertoire, was a story of theatrical passion between an author and actors.
A unique tribute evening
Also, a few days after the death of Lars Noren on January 26, 2021, it was obvious for them, as for Éric Ruf, the general administrator of the Comédie-Française, to pay him the tribute he deserved. They asked Amélie Wendling, the French collaborator and translator of the playwright who wrote and directed Fragments Noren. This project had to wait for the end of the pandemic, the reopening of theaters and the completion of the Molière year to be presented during a unique evening, on April 24, at the Vieux-Colombier (read at the end of the ‘article).
From her years of complicity with the Swedish author, Amélie Wendling has amassed a wealth of fertile material – writings, articles, interviews, director’s notes… – from which she has drawn for this enlightening and fascinating testimony. “I wanted Noren’s thought to drive the show and the way he expressed that thought orally. She therefore imagined a character that serves as a red thread and selected excerpts from plays so that the full force of this raw, dynamic language is revealed, which goes straight to the very essence of the human condition.
A frieze sculpted by nine actors
The result is at the height of the playwright, impressive. A fresco that reveals the intimate work of Lars Noren, his gesture as a director, his rehearsal rituals, a frieze sculpted by nine inspired actors who all worked with him and were intimately marked by this encounter. Françoise Gillard is the subtly delicate narrator of this theatrical crossing, accompanied by Anne Kessler, Alain Lenglet, Pierre Louis-Calixte, Didier Sandre, Dominique Blanc, Danièle Lebrun, Yoann Gasiorowski and Hervé Rock.
Each of them, text in hand – Éric Ruf wanted it to be a reading but oh so superbly interpreted –, gives us to hear key passages from his work, according to a chronological framework, from The Courage to Kill in 1978 until his twilight piece Poussière in 2018, journeying through La Veillée, Kliniken (2), War, Embracing the Shadows and many more…
“Noren means black in Swedish”
“I want to know everything about others because I’ve had enough of myself,” wrote Lars Noren, a poet ultrasensitive to human nature. Without ever judging his peers but with a look of ferocious acuity, he dissects their violence, their suffering, their tenderness too. He scrutinizes families that are torn apart, couples who love and fight, wars and rapes, echoes the voice of all those excluded from our capitalist societies, those forgotten in psychiatric hospitals, proscribed migrants, the neglected homeless…
“What interested him in the other is not what he shows or what he hides, it’s what he doesn’t yet know about himself. ” Amélie Wendling was able to highlight the cathartic power of Lars Noren’s theater, and adds: “Noren has become an adjective in Swedish which means black. »
Yet the humor is there, springing up in the interstices, and the music too, an integral part of his writing. “He was passionate about music and always opened rehearsals with a dance. He watched his characters evolve on the stage where he also invited the technicians, the administrative staff, the costume designers…”
Amélie Wendling chose to open Fragments Noren with Comment te dire adieu by Gainsbourg sung by Jane Birkin. Moving words to honor the one who thought of the theater as “a sacred place (…) where movements, emotions, thoughts are shared with the public, a place where we create together”.
About Lars Noren
The Comedie Francaise offers on Monday, May 8 at 8:30 p.m. on its website, its Facebook page and YouTube a performance of Poussière, captured at the Richelieu theater in June 2018. It will be followed by Fragments Noren, offered in replay until the end of the season.
The Swedish Institute organizes on May 15 at 7 p.m. a round table with Françoise Gillard and Dominique Blanc from the Comédie-Française, Jean-Pierre Darroussin and Hervé Pierre, moderated by Amélie Wendling. And, until July 30, “L’art Noren”, an immersive exhibition that traces the artist’s career through photos, excerpts from pieces, documentaries…
Free entry at 11 rue Payenne, 75003 Paris. Info. : institutsuedois.fr