« D’un 11 septembre à l’autre », a theatrical project with young people from Paris suburbs.
For the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attack perpetrated on September 11, 2001, the theatrical company Cie de la Mauvaise Graine, the non-profit organization Citoyenneté Jeunesse and the audiovisual producer Veilleur de nuit shared their expertise to bring a bold artistic project to fruition based on Michel Vinaver’s text, 11 September 2001.
The ambition of director Arnaud Meunier and choreographer Rachid Ouramdane was to make Vinaver’s text live through young people of suburbain Paris, alongside professional actors from his theatrical company.
Thinking forward rather than commemorating: workshops with high school students from Seine-Saint-Denis and their teachers
Rather than subscribing to the perspective of commemorating the drama, the director took the opportunity of this anniversary to build a strong artistic act. By going over the dramatic aspects, and grief, of this event he poses new questions about the world as a whole.
Three high schools from the Paris area were involved in the project, each with highly different social issues.
In each of these schools, the teaching team was rallied to enable the students to open themselves to the world of today through artistic and cultural workshops; to question it, but also to take part into it.
An atypical play
Far from sensationalistic and voyeurism, 11 September 2001, the last play written by Michel Vinaver, is a brilliant score where, in the style of a Bach cantata, the author mixes stories, official words, texts for propaganda and journalists. The researcher Olivier Goetz describes this play, presented for the first time in 2005 in the USA, as a “snapshot of the crisis and the grief gripped in a kind of tragic Guernica, September 11 has found its Picasso with Michel Vinaver”.
Enable to experience the strength and delight out of cultivating one’s intelligence and sensitivity
The goal was to give to these high school students a new perspective of the news and of history, to give them the means to go beyond academic knowledge, and to meet different points of view.
Beside the theatrical work with the artists, the cultural learning plan centered on discussions with ethnologists, historians, journalists and artistic teams that had worked on this theme. The students attended shows, movies or exhibitions that opened the debate.
On stage: a director, a choreographer, actors and high school students
The choreographer Jean-Baptiste André with the complicity of Rachid Ouramdane propose his contribution to the stage direction. A team of five professional actors from the theatrical company Compagnie de la Mauvaise Graine, experienced in Vinaver’s dramaturgy and in working with amateurs, managed and followed the progress of the young beginners along the year. Together, little by little, they transitioned to the stage: in September 2011 at the Théâtre de la Ville in Paris (a famous 1000-seat theatre near Notre Dame Cathedral in the historic center of the city), and then on tour in Seine-Saint-Denis.
This project aroused medias attention, due to its hybrid and unsual form. It will be the basis for a movie by the award winning French documentarist Guy Girard. It will be produced by the company Veilleur de Nuit and broadcasted in France on public television at the end of the year.
Finding a place in today’s world, a challenge for the youth
This project’s goal was to confront 94 teenagers, coming from inner city areas, with an important issue of this century. The support they received throughout the year, the scenic work with a professional company and two great artists and the following performances, are tremendous tools to give them self confidence, to help them to better control their emotions, to build their personalities, and to develop their critical sense and self-esteem; all essential tools for the personal journey they will face in their own lives.