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théâtre national de nice

2017-18 season

théâtre national de nice

[ PRODUCTION | Original piece ]

le horla

Guy de Maupassant
adapted & directed by Paul Chariéras, Samuel Chariéras

with Samuel Chariéras lighting Paul Chariéras production Théâtre National de Nice - CDN Nice Côte d’Azur

Venture into a universe where reality is perhaps not what it seems. Thrills and chills guaranteed! Samuel Chariéras, a young and talented actor from Nice, has created a highly original version of this great classic of fantasy literature. Alone on stage, he explores the vertiginous state of a man possessed, who is descending into madness. Through a series of personal journal entries, Maupassant conducts a self-analysis akin to a scientific experiment that veers towards the irrational, the obsessive urge to kill, night terrors and supernatural visions. What if human nature was even more complex than we thought? What if every man had a double?
The staging is clean and streamlined – the actor creates a phantasmagorical world that lies somewhere between theatrical art and sleight of hand illusion. This is a borderline journey that will, in some delicious way, prove to haunt us.

Meet the artistic team after the show on Thursday 18th January

Samuel Chariéras will also perform two readings based on the themes of his show:
Suicides and Solitude On Saturday 18th November at 3pm
Lettre d'un fou On Saturday 16 December at 3pm
[Salle/hall Michel Simon, free admission, reservation recommended]

Interview Samuel Chariéras

Interviewed by Caroline Audibert

“And what if fantasy was another way to see the world?”



You direct yourself in your first play. The Horla is a powerful, bold choice in terms of theatre. What made you do it?

This script proved to be a highly personal and intense experience at a key moment in my life. I felt very close indeed to Maupassant, despite the century that divides us. As an actor, I really wanted to bring it to the stage. It was something I simply felt I had to do…and all the more so as the portrayal through a personal journal is a powerful one, having the daily impressions of the writer to hand. What he is going through suddenly becomes very real and stage-worthy!

Is this a dark show about insanity?

The Horla is the story about a man teetering between reality and fantasy, between normality and madness. We see through the eyes of the sick man himself and then through those of the doctor who sees an extraordinary patient in front of him. We should not forget that Maupassant wrote this at a time when spiritualism was only just losing its hold and psychoanalysis had barely begun. On top of that, the writer was fascinated by the work of Doctor Charcot. What we are doing, in fact, is delving into the invisible…the intangible, by challenging how we see reality. We reach a point when we ask ourselves if the strange, sometimes terrifying images of this man are actually real! And what if fantasy was another way to see the world? What I like about fantasy is that it starts within; that’s what makes it different from science fiction. It says something about the complexity of human nature in those half-lit, grey areas.

So who exactly is the Horla, this invisible being who fascinates the writer?

The Horla is the writer himself, so honed by his own nocturnal and suicidal impulses that he cannot find his place within a very ordered and structured society. At night, his irrational other self appears. We can perhaps all identify with him! The Horla is ourselves; it’s the other part of us; the stranger within, who stirs up our insomnia! Maupassant talks of the violence behind who we are and the fear that grips us when we discover it. The Horla is Flaubert too, that literary legend who, even from his tomb, continues to dominate Maupassant. It is no coincidence that the date the journal begins is the 8th May, the anniversary of Flaubert’s death!

Is this schizophrenic experience autobiographical?

The writer suffered from syphilis and this caused excruciating migraines that certainly pushed him towards insanity. The theme of madness in The Horla has an important place, of course, and this piece could well be viewed as a day-by-day description of a clinical case. I, on the other hand, would like first and foremost to explore the theme of duality which is typical of fantasy literature, from Poe to Borges. I feel that it’s from the perspective of the irrational that The Horla can resonate deeply within us.

What was your angle as director?

The play is based on three versions of The Horla, the most well-know of which was from 1887..but also based on other writings by Maupassant like Magnetism. I did wonder about adapting the script to produce a very vocal language akin to slang, with more urban culture roots and with perceptible rap influences. But his writing is so beautiful and visionary that I chose to interpret it as it is.

How are you going to create the fantastic element on stage?

I’ll use illusion techniques to create some spectacular hallucinations and to put across the surreal dimension of the script. There will be objects that take on a life of their own…worrying things, rather terrifying… And fear - that’s a precious commodity!
Michel Simon Hall Estimated running time 1h20
  • january
  • wed 10 8:30pm
  • thu 11 8:30pm
  • fri 12 9pm
  • sat 13 8:30pm
  • tue 16 8:30pm
  • wed 17 8:30pm
  • thu 18 8:30pm
  • fri 19 9pm
Book online
Le horla at Théâtre National de Nice
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