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théâtre national de nice

2017-18 season

théâtre national de nice

[ creation ]

terre noire

Stefano Massini
translated Italian by Pietro Pizzuti
directed by Irina Brook

with Romane Bohringer, Hippolyte Girardot, Pitcho Womba Konga, Jeremias Nussbaum, Babetida Sadjo music by Jean-Louis Ruf-Costanzo stage design Noëlle Ginefri sound Guillaume Pomares ligtingAlexandre Toscani wardrobe Élisa Octo stage assistant Simon Courtois produced by Théâtre National de Nice - CDN Nice Côte d’Azur
L'Arche is the publisher and theatrical agent for the text presented.© L'Arche éditeur
audio-description on Wednesday 3 February at 8:30pm.
A conversation with Stefano Massini on Saturday January 30th at 3pm in Michel Simon hall.

A car stops at Hagos’ sugar cane field. The Earth Corporation salesman tempts the farmer with money, lots of it. His neighbour has already given in, parading around in his shiny new car, his land yielding five harvests a year. Like all other farmers in the region, Hagos falls into the trap. But his dreams of wealth are quickly shattered: his sugar cane crops dessicates, the chemicals kill his ancestors' land, and he finds himself crippled by debt. Forced to give up their land in order to survive, the farmer and his wife hire Odela Zaqira, a young, fiery lawyer.

This play puts us right at the heart of a psychological battle rivalling the best Hollywood thrillers: one woman singlehandedly takes on ruthless multinationals. In thirty-one vignettes, Stefano Massini tells the true and horrendous story of a South African farmer couple used as a pawn by big companies. Intrigue builds up, as a dark and subtle puzzle is pieced together. Irina Brook uses these intense, fragmented scenes of a contemporary play to take a close look at a world under threat in which the power of money erdoes humanity.

Is our planet condemned to becoming a pawn in a fool's bargain? How can we resist globalisation and get back to our roots?

conversation with Irina Brook

Interview by Caroline Audibert

Was Terre Noire written especially for the Théâtre National de Nice?

Yes, I was looking for a powerful text on an environmental topic by a young author. Stefano Massini, one of the greatest young talents in theatre today, was an obvious choice. His brilliant writing and his engagement with current affairs really impressed me. His work represents a renewal of theatre that reflects society without ever losing the sense of entertainment.

Were you also inspired by Massini's political theatre which leaves the director room for interpretation?

His writing is cinematographic, full of life, edgy, and it appealed to me instantly. His plays encourage reflection and contemplation without slipping into nerdy intellectualism. What fascinates me is the richness of his style and the atmosphere he creates like no other: cinematographic, minimalist scenes followed by monologues and poetic imagery. This juxtaposition between naturalism and theatre is extremely interesting with regard to staging and directing the actors. His writing gives me a very precise framework to operate in, which is fascinating for someone like me who generally likes to turn classics upside down. I find it very inspiring to work with this new form!

The writer structured his play as a puzzle made up of 31 interchangeable vignettes. How do you intend to present it?

The story takes place over several years, but isn't told in a linear fashion: you can move back and forth through time and the characters' destinies. This jigsaw-puzzle structure gives me great freedom. Stefano Massini wants the director and artists to make the play their own and perform it any way they like. This opens up a lot of opportunities, such as finding the strongest, most theatrical ending!

What does the play tell us about our relationship with our planet?

The play plunges us into the issue of environmental corruption by the multinationals. It shows just how badly people and the Earth can be destroyed. This chaos we create will eventually end up destroying us. It is unbelievable that our leaders promote collective sacrifice for the benefit of corporations. Every day we damage our relationship with the Earth a little more, this planet that has nurtured us since the beginning of time. I hope that Terre Noire can make a small contribution in this time of global awakening.

Without preaching, Stefano Massini's intriguing story points a finger at the ongoing process of instrumentalizing the Earth - and all for money. And then what? What will remain? We will have destroyed our most precious possession...

2015-16 season
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