Autumn Festival: Vincent Macaigne confronts Richard III at the end of the world

It's been six years since Vincent Macaigne last delivered to the public one of these thunderous productions of which he has the secret

Autumn Festival: Vincent Macaigne confronts Richard III at the end of the world

It's been six years since Vincent Macaigne last delivered to the public one of these thunderous productions of which he has the secret. Born in 1978, the artist shook up the theatrical coconut tree by notably adapting Dostoyevsky (The Idiot, 2009) and Shakespeare (At least I would have left a beautiful corpse, 2011) before creating, in 2017, I am a country. And then, nothing more. Six years that this gifted actor has been filming for an auteur cinema that appreciates his grumpy moods, his need for love and his existential worries. For six years he has only set foot on the theater stage during workshops with actors. Six years, finally, that he thought about what he would like to create: Ivanov, by Chekhov, or Richard III, by Shakespeare?

The Elizabethan hero, hunchbacked, lame, ready to kill friends, women, children to access the throne, had his favors. Met at the end of June at the MC93 in Bobigny, where he was rehearsing, Vincent Macaigne said he hesitated: “The two characters are in a world that is being destroyed, but I chose Richard, because my show is about the end. » Suffice to say that the carnivalesque apocalypse, the artist's aesthetic trademark, risks being reactivated with the irruption, through him, of the most borderline of Shakespearean kings.

We therefore expect everything with this creation. Especially since in six years the world has also shattered limits. From the climate crisis to Covid-19, including the war in Ukraine, it is close to making the title of the performance, Before Terror, taste like the ashes of an afterlife. “It’s a curse coin. There is not a protagonist who does not predict the end of everything. This is still the case today. Like Richard, we are immersed in the flow of information that moves too quickly for us to understand anything, not to mention the “fake news” that abuses and deceives us,” underlines Vincent Macaigne.

Guignolles fashion

This June 28 in Bobigny, strollers are calmly enjoying the cool night air. The next day, a change of atmosphere in the suburbs: young people pour into the streets to protest against the death of Nahel M., 17 years old. On June 27, in Nanterre, he was killed at close range by a police officer. Looting, fires, climate of civil war: the country is experiencing turbulent times which irrepressibly refer to the words of the director: “Shakespeare wrote plays on the beginning of Western civilization, that is to say on the archaic and violence. Original and crazy stories in which humanity and the West are anchored. We live the things announced by his texts. Always active, they will be very hard to deprogram. »

If the cataclysms do not stop at the threshold of the performance halls, the rehearsal space nevertheless seems out of reach of everyday life. A huge white box as a playing area, here and there video screens and standing microphones, an upright piano, a huge block of polystyrene. The actors are in their underwear, the actresses, with bewigs, brandish plastic machine guns. The (fake) gutted carcass of an ox is placed on a table. The brutality of reality comes into the spotlight. But she does it in a puppet mode, after having been sifted by an imagination which Macaigne, who adds his own variations to the piece, cannot do without: “I find the public's greed for reality bizarre. Although I may be the first to watch documentaries, I know that this reality takes away a space for interpretation. It deprives me of a critical relationship with what I watch. Reinterpreting Shakespeare, struggling with it, not understanding it, it’s a democratic issue. »

Readily invited onto his sets, buffoonery is a distorting mirror that places the tragedy of lives at a healthy distance. Could excess, in the theater, be a tool for thinking about the world without being caught up in its eddies? The hypothesis leaves the creator unmoved. This June 28, he doesn't have the answer to everything. He probes the tragedy: “I know that this reality fuels me: the oceans are burning, it is difficult to have confidence in the future, it is impossible to find peace. But Shakespeare asks a major question that I try to relay: does telling the end of the world mean creating it? And to tell it, with this spectacle, is to perform a destructive act? »

Act III, scene 7: Buckingham comes to beg Richard to take power. His stomach stained with hemoglobin, a cap screwed on his head in pure Donald Trump style, actor Sharif Andoura raises a militia to support the dictator. In front of him, Pascal Rénéric displays the dazed grin of those whose stupidity is matched only by their credulity: “These are two idiots who meet and get into trouble for nothing,” says the actor. Richard is less a Machiavellian strategist than a brainless buffoon. “He’s an idiot,” insists Vincent Macaigne. He arrives without really understanding what he has fallen into. I don't want to make him a cynic. He does not maneuver, he is caught in the spiral of fictions to which he adheres without asking questions and which will make him the instrument of terror. »

“A painter who would make flat areas”

The shoddy soldiers let their weapons speak. Cannons pointed towards the heights except when they aim, through clumsiness (and the joke of their director), at the trooper next door. A troop of jerks in the service of a quasi-dweller: it's better to laugh at the disaster in progress. Besides, the mood of the moment is joyful. Sitting on a chair, Vincent Macaigne turns his back on the technicians, who respond promptly to the instructions of this conductor. “He reminds me of a painter who would make flat areas,” says Pascal Rénéric. Intonations, movements, postures: this set of elements which shape the actor's presence interests the director more than the accuracy of the utterance. “Directing,” he comments, “is a tinkering affair. I'm looking for solutions. I'm trying to figure out if I'm using video. I fumble between translations. I test music. In rehearsal, we are organically led to outbid. Just like on a highway. If everyone goes 200 km/h, we will also go 200 so as not to get hit by the car behind. »

He jumps up. Removes a CRS helmet from a crate, wearing Clara Lama Schmit's headdress, a security guard who guards the children destined to die on Richard's orders. Act IV, scene 1. Entrance of the sovereigns reduced to powerlessness in the face of planned infanticide. Pauline Lorillard plays Anne, Richard’s future wife: “Vincent is instinctive. He feels the energies, he has intuitions which he injects into the direction of the actor. We are moving forward collectively. If nothing alive happens during the work sessions, he can no longer work. » The actress says her lines. He interrupts: “Try this move instead. " She takes back. He intervenes again. She continues. Sculpt your character with him until you get the right note, the right gesture and the right rhythm. Co-construction is the fuel for a creation which will see its excesses gradually refined. Not everything will be kept, far from it: “The minutes that remain will be loaded and thickened with everything that has existed. As if we were rehearsing a series and at the end we were shooting a film,” explains Sharif Andoura.

For Vincent Macaigne, theater is not a fixed art. “I try to make an almost raw show. It's going to take time to remove the layers between me and the actors, between the actors and the text, between the text and the effects. » While Richard makes the heads fall, the artist prunes the fat of the rehearsals to keep only the juice. His method for achieving what Sharif Andoura calls “the grace of chaos.”