Culture

Theatre: Auschwitz meets the French Auvergne

Article published on Feb. 2, 2009
Article published on Feb. 2, 2009
For the International Short Film Festival 2009, director Fabrice Dubusset is working with amateur performers for the group's first Fassbinder play. The revival of the German director's 'Just a Slice of Bread' brings critical themes to the European arena

The one-act play shall be showcased at the 31st Court Métrage International Festival (International Short Film Festival) which runs from 30 January until 7 February in Clermont-Ferrand. Director Fabrice Dubusset gives the actors from the Emmanuel-Chabrier group in Clermont-Ferrand the last instructions. A cameraman sits in position on a fitting which moves round the small stage, whilst nearby an actor plays with a fascinating microphone that resembles a toilet brush. Lights! Action! Roll!

Arthur Vandepoel, Thomas Tressy and Julien Gimenez played three Jews deported to Auschwitz in the first attempt at Nur eine Scheibe Brot ('Just a Slice of Bread') when it was performed in 1995, as it was discovered after the director's death. The piece tells the story of the German cinema director Hans Fricke who wants to shoot a film about Auschwitz and push the boundaries of what is portrayable. The play will be ready for the festival, which is the cultural advertisement for the Auvergne region.

 Images by Ezequiel Scagnetti

(©Ezequiel Scagnetti)

Qu'une tranche de pain (the title of the play in French) is the 'possibility for us (French people) to speak about Vichy and the difficulies in trying to speak about it,' says Fabrice Dubusset. Dubusset runs the Zèbre Theatre in Vichy, a town where 'people are still suffering today from their historical burden,' Celine explains, spokesman for the theatre. After the failure against the Germans in Vichy, there was a new French regime under Marshall Pétain.

©Ezequiel Scagnetti

Born in 1945, German cinema and theatre director Reiner Werner Fassbinder became renowned for his films Angst essen Seele auf ('Fear eats the soul', 1974) and his adaptation of Alfred Döblin's Berlin Alexanderplatz (1980). Fassbinder, who died before his time aged 32 from a drug overdose just two years later, is one of the most famous post-war directors. He was a member of the action theatre group in Munich that later changed its name to anti-theatre.

(©Ezequiel Scagnetti)

The internationally celebrated Fassbinder was a man who pushed boundaries. With the rehearsal of performances in Clermont-Ferrand, film and theatre merge slowly into each other. The audience does not know until the end whether they are watching a real slip of the tongue or a stage direction.

(©Ezequiel Scagnetti)

Scene: Aunt and Uncle Baumbach, played by Monique Jouvancy and Michel Guyard, are visiting Hans Fricke. 'Uncle are you Jewish?' 'At the Front we didn't know this'

Listen to the rehearsals: ©Comédie de Clermont

(©Ezequiel Scagnetti)

Dubusset had already worked with amateur performers in past productions. different patients from a psychiatric clinic in Vichy co-acted in Just a Slice of Bread.

(©Ezequiel Scagnetti)

The goal of the production is also to promote a Europe-wide remembrance of the events with everyone having similar cultural memories. Arnaldo Rogni (pictured above) is an Italian actor who appeared in plays by Copi, Handke and Pasolini. Just a Slice of Bread will be performed during the 2009/ 2010 theatre season in Italy, Portugal, Romania, Holland and Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Performances are on 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 February at 8:30pm in the Maison du Peuple in Clermont-Ferrand.

Tickets cost 5-25 euros (£4-21)