by Phia Ménard and Anne-James Chaton
“Black Monody is a performance for two arYsts, a single voice, a series of movements and a subject.
A ceremonial usher, a Beauty…: the poet Anne-James Chaton puts a predetermined, fixed daily life into prose; Phia Ménard directs the duality of gender in soothing gestures. Together they deal with rhythm, in the trance form, to invite the imaginaYon to enter it. The voice pushed to breathlessness and the gestures to the limit of equilibrium conjure the utopia of the surpassing of the being.”
Statement of intent
Seemingly, we have liale in common; Mr Anne-James Chaton, writer and sound-poet, and myself, Miss Philippe Ménard, juggler and author.
Unless you count the arYsYc form of our performance acts and the dysfuncYon of our Ytles, Mr and Miss. Maybe that’s the key to my invitaYon : we’re both working on the theme of idenYty. Anne-James does this by stripping bare the part of our everyday life which is tracked, indexed and numerised, and then transforming this into prose; I tackle gender duality in a theatrical context, using scenic movement. Both of us explore rhythm in its trance form, in order to give space to a world of imaginaYon. The voice is forced to the point of breathless- ness and the movement taken to the limit of equilibrium; the aim is to summon up a utopian state wherein the body surpasses itself. Black Monodie is a site-specific performance for the Jardin de la Vierge (Garden of the Vir- gin), Avignon. Everything about this space and its name evokes the myth of the Madonna. Was she first a woman before she became an icon for eternity?
She was the first (super) model of the ‘good’ woman in a world run by men. The myth is 2000 years old, and yet « they » (women) are sYll searching for their place in the world.
How can we sYll believe that Sisyphe is the only one pushing a boulder up the mountain :
« This universe henceforth without a master seems to him neither sterile nor fuYle. Each atom of that stone, each mineral flake of that night-filled mountain, in itself forms a world. The struggle itself toward the heights is enough to fill a man’s heart. One must imagine Sisyphus happy. » (Albert Camus, « The Myth of Sisyphus »)
What if the path towards becoming « She » was the same struggle and what if that struggle in itself was worth
it ? In answer to the misleading promise « When you grow up you’ll become a princess ! », should we ceaselessly baale our way through the storm to realise this desYny, or instead wait all our life for happiness to come to us ?
Black Monodie by Phia Ménard and Anne-James Chaton
Cast and production
Author of texts and sound composition, performer: Anne-James Chaton Assistant director, dramaturgy: Jean-Luc Beaujault
Ice master, assistant: Rodolphe Thibaud
Stage manager: Pierre Blanchet
Administra1on, production: Claire Massonnet
Tour managers: Clarisse Mérot
Public relations: Adrien Poulard
Featuring the manipulation of objects and elements – Play of Ice – Length : 28 minutes
« Black Monodie » by Phia Ménard and Anne-James Chaton is a production by the Compagnie Non Nova.
Co-produced by the Festival d’Avignon, SACD – Arts du Cirque and EPPC Le Quai – Imagine
2020. With the support of Grand T – Nantes, and TU – Nantes. This project has also been financially assisted by the city of Nantes.
The Compagnie Non Nova – Phia Ménard is subsidised by the French Ministry of Culture and Communication – DRAC des Pays de la Loire, Nantes City Council, the Conseil Régional des Pays de la Loire and the Conseil Départemental de Loire-Atlantique. The company also receives support from the Institut Français (France’s international cultural relations body) and the BNP Paribas Foundation.
The company is based in Nantes.
The Compagnie Non Nova – Phia Ménard is currently associate artist at Malraux scène nationale Chambery Savoie, and the « TNB, Centre Européen Théâtral et Chorégraphique de Rennes » (National Theatre of Brittany).
Thanks to : Patricia Buck, Anne Quentin, Elisabeth Cormier Van Dam, Catherine Faudry, Dominique Barranguet Loustalot, Josette Ménard, Céline Tharreau, Simon Marini…