Joël Pommerat: Marius

Jul 2014
Dec 2017
Joël Pommerat, "Marius"
Joël Pommerat, "Marius" © Christophe Loiseau
Joël Pommerat, "Marius"
Joël Pommerat, "Marius" © Christophe Loiseau
Joël Pommerat, "Marius"
Joël Pommerat, "Marius" © Christophe Loiseau
From September 2014 to December 2017, theatre director Joël Pommerat led creative theatre workshops with a group of detainees at Arles high-security prison. After an initial stage involving improvisations around scenes drawn from William Shakespeare and Marcel Pagnol, the group chose to pursue an original but faithful adaptation of Pagnol’s Marius. “Adaptation” here meant rewriting the play’s text in a contemporary context, drawing on the participants’ own experience without losing the original intention of the work.

This project aimed to engage a group of detainees in all of the artistic and technical aspects of a creative process. Participants had to learn their lines and rehearse them with a professional theatre director before performing under the technical conditions demanded by theatre. Joël Pommerat also shared various films and texts with the actors in order to deepen their understanding of the story and to help them to find the right tone.

Set in Marseille, the piece deals with travel, family links and amorous desire – themes which cannot but hold a special resonance for men deprived of their freedom. How to use the story in such a way as to give them the space and the power to let their own desires unfold? This theatre experiment was also an experiment in life: it was a question of creating a work together that goes beyond the individual; of presenting the fruits of their labours to their loved-ones, their fellow prisoners and the prison’s staff; of blending courage, application and joy for a final result that participants say went far beyond their original expectations; as one prisoner said: “What I liked the most about this project was feeling what you, the audience, could give us.”

The success of this initiative owes much to the research and the practice of Joël Pommerat and his collaborator Caroline Guiela Nguyen. The two artists like to weave fiction from concrete universes that are very close to “real life”. This project forms part of the Foundation’s on-going efforts to engage with and support artistic forms that incorporate a civic dimension and that encourage new relationships between work and audience.

Disciplines
Performing arts
Lieu
Maison centrale d’Arles
Arles
France
Joël Pommerat and Caroline Guiela Nguyen led theatre workshops with a group of detainees at Arles high-security prison.
This project aimed to engage a group of detainees in all of the artistic and technical aspects of a creative process.
This project forms part of the Foundation’s ongoing efforts to engage with and support artistic forms with a civic dimension.

See also