“If Molière crosses the centuries, it is thanks to his comic genius”

“We arrived yesterday at Les Riches-Claires for our first day of rehearsal and we are in the middle of scouting the room for our entrances and exits from the stage, the technique… and even the coffee machine”smiles Nicole Stankiewicz, director of the Small World by Georges Dandin, according to Molière. A few days before the premiere, this Wednesday, October 5, the excitement is palpable: “We are in the final rush. We can’t wait to play!” And the excitement is all the greater as the Sheep Collective (1) has been carrying out this project for six years already.

It all started in 2016 on the benches of the Higher Institute of the Arts (Insas). “Nicole [Stankiewicz] brought us together to participate in his graduation show, The small world of Georges Dandinand, from there, was formed the Mouton Collectif”explains actress Jenna Hasse. “Following this playresumes Nicole Stankiewicz, the artistic director of the Théâtre de la Toison d’Or (TTO), Nathalie Uffner, asked us to become the resident troupe of the TTO café-théâtre. We had to create four comedy shows a year”. After two seasons “exhilarating and frenetic” where everyone explores writing, acting and directing, the small team decides to put The small world of Georges Dandin on the job. “We had put together a little less than half of the show [en 2016] and we had all kept in a corner of our head the desire to finish this creation”remembers the director.

A cartoon-inspired world

If this play, one of Molière’s darkest, is so close to his heart, it is because it is linked to “a childhood memory”. “I saw, as a child, not a play, but a spectacle that had a strong impact on meshe recalls. I remember two images. First of all, that of a completely clueless character, who wanders and addresses the public as he is alone, but calling himself by his name, George Dandin. Then, that of the scenes with the parents of his wife, Angélique, Mr and Mrs de Sotenville, where we witness class contempt, a very strong social hierarchy and where he is prevented from speaking under the pretext that he does not not express correctly”. In front of “these humiliations, this cruelty, what interested me was to see how these emotions are experienced internally, on the skin”.

Created in 1668 in Versailles, George Dandin or the Confounded Husband is a comedy-ballet in three acts. Molière tells the story of a rich peasant, George Dandin, who, in exchange for his fortune, marries the daughter of Mr and Mrs de Sotenville, Angélique, thus gaining a wife and a title of nobility. But the rebellious young woman rejects this husband she never wanted. And falls in love with Clitandre, a libertine gentleman of the Court. Dandin tries to find help from his in-laws, but they only feel disdain for him.

To deal with the questions that run through this play – class contempt, social hierarchy… – and resonate today, with as much acuity as ever, the Mouton Collectif has imagined, both visually and in terms of the game, “another little world, which borrows the codes of cartoons, cape and dagger”describes Nicole Stankiewicz. “It’s kind of a cartoon or lab version of our real world.she says. It is therefore neither Molière’s world nor exactly our world. It’s like a poem, a metaphor, a nightmare version of these human beings who are rotten from within by this hierarchical structure of the world in which they live”. As for the language of Molière, “I did not rewrite the textcontinues the director. On the other hand, the moments when the language did not seem to me to be able to reach the public directly, I adapted them a little bit”.

“I prefer Molière to the last Palme d’Or”

While the field of possibilities is endless, why did she choose, for her first staging, a classic author, Molière (whose 400th anniversary is being celebrated this year)? “This piece is both extremely cruel and extremely funny.she explains. By immersing ourselves in the biography of Molière, we discovered his way of working, which is at the crossroads of two influences: the Commedia dell’arte, with its buffoons and caricatures, and the notion of “natural”, that is to -say the naturalness of his dialogues and the truth of his characters. And if Molière crosses the centuries, it is thanks to this comic genius”. “Recentlybounces actress Jenna Hasse, I saw the last film that received the Palme d’Or, very satirical (Triangle of Sadness (Without filter), Editor’s note) and I wondered why I preferred Molière. In fact, there is much more gentleness in his characters, but also intelligence. Molière laughs, but his characters also fight. This is not found in all scriptures..

–> (1) Le Mouton Collectif brings together, on stage, Arnaud Botman, Valentin Dayan, Wilhem De Baerdemaeker, Jenna Hasse, Lucas Meister and Adèle Vandroth

–> Brussels, Les Riches-Claires, from October 5th to 14th. Info and res. at 02.548.25.80 or www.lesrichesclaires.be and www.moutoncollectif.be


This Wednesday, October 5, two shows open the season at the Théâtre des Riches-Claires: rebel without a cause by and with Roda Fawaz and The small world of Georges Dandin according to Molière. This play directed by Nicole Stankiewicz (read above) is part of the “Scènes d’envol” program, i.e. nine creations by young artists for which special support is offered to them (technical support; video clip; photos; etc.) and presented at a single price (€8 presale; 10 € on site). “The idea is that the Riches-Claires is a theater that serves as a springboard for young artists coming out of schoolexplains its director Éric De Staercke, and who have, sometimes in parallel with their projects, the desire to express their own ideas and their own staging, without being framed by the artistic line of a contracted theater or by an already confirmed director”. Valuable support to which many young project leaders aspire. “We receive nearly ten requests per week, for a waiting time of two to three years…”

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“If Molière crosses the centuries, it is thanks to his comic genius”