“Heroine” by Arts Oseurs | ARTCENA

drawing of the show © Xavier Moreno

The company that often played in Aurillac is now well known. This takes place in the courtyard of a school in Arpajon-sur-Cère (Cantal), a town bordering Aurillac. No stage in the strict sense of the term but facing the public, several platforms on wheels, with or without plastic glazing. But also, on the sides, even behind the wooden benches where some one hundred and fifty spectators are seated.
A claimed discomfort that they will share, says the director, with those who attend a hearing. The show also has a performance side: an artist begins to paint a vast fresco representing lawyers, defendants, etc. which will be completed when the show ends.

It is six o’clock and it is therefore still broad daylight, the public, fortunately, is not packed and the benches are far from being full. We have been warned: we will therefore be able to change places, leave the court and then return to it during the four hours that this incursion into French judicial life will last.

The not new theme remains stainless! And the courts often have something of the comic but also of the most absolute tragedy of a theatrical scene. Which did not hesitate to find there an almost permanent source of inspiration, whether correctional, in immediate appearance, administrative or assize, also have something theatrical. Scenario, play of the protagonists and supporting roles or extras, scenography, light and sound, audience… Everything is already there. And so there is an old tradition of plays whose theme is justice or which stage a trial. Already at the Eumenides of Aeschylus, then in Aristophanes and then in many texts in the Middle Ages such as The foolishness of triumphant fools who deceive everyone, beginning with a trial with arguments of the plaintiffs, appearance of the accused, indictment and argument of the defence. And also the famous FaMaster Pathelin’s rcce (XVe century). The Litigantss where Jean Racine does not spare the world of Justice! And 19th century piecese century which make a parody of a trial do not miss… The Red dress de Brieux, created in 1900, denounces an examining magistrate, eager for promotion, who condemns an innocent person to please those in power. But the condemned will be acquitted thanks to the honesty of the Prosecutor. More recently, so-called documentary theater was born with, among others, Peter Weiss: The Trial of Oscar Wilde and The Dreyfus Affair on the trial of Emile Zola. And the great Jean Vilar went up Education, a play by the same author on the Oppenheimer affair, according to the minutes of the Atomic Energy Safety Commission (United States). We had also seen The excellent courthouse (1981), a correctional trial masterfully recreated by Jean-Pierre Vincent from recordings made in secret by his team! With the great Evelyne Didi as a formidable prosecutor. The American David Mamet is also the author of Romance, a lawsuit brought against a man whose crime is unknown. Pauline Bureau wrote and directed My heart, a kind of reconstitution of the trial of the laboratory which had marketed a drug which was also a good appetite suppressant. But this pick had catastrophic side effects… Tiago Rodrigues, the new director of the Avignon festival, did with Bovarya historical evocation of the trial of Gustave Flaubert charged with insulting public morals.

In short, contemporary theater is therefore also rich in trials of all kinds. But of course, it is obviously impossible to recreate an audition by summarizing it over the time of a show. It is therefore necessarily a condensed or even summarized representation, of a moment in the life of a court where it is necessary to magnify the line… What Nicolas Lambert had done when he had mounted Elf, the Africa pump (see Blog Theater). The director did not fall into the trap and made another choice: show the image of Justice in short independent scenes.

© Xavier Cantat

Heroin begins with a warning: Ladies and gentlemen, I invite you to this false tribunal, as false as the stories I am about to tell you are true. In this fake courtroom, as fake as the people I met are real, ten actresses and actors, dancers and dancers, managers, painter and musician are among you. As I begin to read my diary, all the members of the troupe will come up at all times to try something, so… that the theater tries something. This hearing will last four hours, maybe less, maybe more. Like all courts, this house is yours, justice will be rendered in the name of the French people, you are their representatives. »

Here are mentioned, among other things, the story of a young woman who attends the trial of a man she does not know at all, convinced of his innocence. But he will be found guilty. And she will start sending him letters.. The beginning of a love… There is also the hassle of an immigrant without papers who has to struggle with the so-called Dublin procedure. I crossed the seahe said, I went through death… » He will be interned in a detention center and then released. Foreigners’ rights, the bane of magistrates, says a lawyer. And then we can attend a brief training session for lawyers with warnings against measures taken illegally. Custody is not always mandatory. ” You can demand the uncuffing. That is two hours where small scenes follow one another.

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© Xavier Cantat

Then, after a thirty-minute intermission, a case of pimping, stories of theft, an argument that goes wrong is played in immediate appearance: Brahim ends up kicking his neighbor’s face. The court will then judge a foreigner who claims to be a minor, while the bone expertise would prove that it is not… And will be examined a burglary in an organized gang and a rape on two of his daughters-in-law and a young girl of fifteen years: the man found guilty will be sentenced to ten years’ imprisonment…
And we will be entitled to an extract from a session in the juvenile court for a throwing of stones at the police in a demonstration. The trial of a contractor responsible for a construction site will follow, even if he was not present: a worker, in this case his brother-in-law, suffered a serious fall due to the absence of guardrails on scaffolding… A real family tragedy! In short, through these short scenes where the courts judge minor offenses but also serious offenses and crimes, it is the whole life of a country that parades. With the responsibility of offenders but also, implicitly, of society as a whole.
The whole show is remarkably acted, with many nuances and often without sex differentiation in the roles: no down time and the actors change on sight from suits hanging on hangers in the wings behind the benches. The public – not very young but like everywhere in the theater festivals – follows attentively and applauds for a long time. It’s a smart show where you don’t get bored but whose dramaturgy remains a bit weak… This series of small scenes with a few lawyer ballets is very well done but it deserves a few cuts. And these four hours did not seem really essential to us to be able to give an image of judicial life in France. Who graps all, looses! And Heroin would benefit a lot from being tightened up but it is undoubtedly one of the best shows at In d’Aurillac this year.

Heroin, by Les Arts Oseurs. On tour :

  • September 15 at the CNAREP Moulin Fondu in Paris.
  • September 23 and 24 at the CNAREP Some P’arts in Peaugres (07).
  • October 15 at the Parvis – national scene in Montgaillard (65).

“Heroine” by Arts Oseurs | ARTCENA