“Disgrace” an uppercut to Anthéa, to see until May 14

We come out dazed. A little frustrated with some sound issues on premiere night, sometimes not quite sure if he would share the same reactions as the neighbors in the room but, mostly, groggy. Boxed by the words of Disgrace and the pain of its pivotal character, Amir, a brilliant lawyer at the New York bar who, having rejected his Muslim education outright, finds himself torn apart when society as a whole, with contempt or benevolence, permanently assigns him to his origin.

In 2013 in the United States, this play earned its author, the American playwright Ayad Akhtar, himself from a Pakistani family, the Pulitzer Prize for theatrical work. And we say to ourselves that by staging the French version of Disgracedthe director of the Anthéa theatre, in Antibes, did not choose the easy way (read opposite). To accompany Daniel Benoin on the adventure: Sami Bouajila, César winner last year for his role in A son of Mehdi Barsaoui, is Amir. Alice Pol (A perfect plan, Superchondriac) is Emily, his wife, artist, white, bourgeois. Olivier Sitruk (The Bait, 24 days) is Isaac, the gallerist friend, Jewish, married to Jory, also a lawyer, African-American, played by Mata Gabin (who we saw in particular in his only on stage Mata la mytho). Adel Djemai also, in the role of the nephew “Abe” (who notably participated in the success Jihad at the theatre). And what starts out rather mildly as a meal between these two pairs of friends gradually builds up in tension.

“Burning News”

A drama on a tightrope with a lively staging, scenes punctuated by projections of news images and rock music, in which questions of identity, religions, racism, shatter all the certainties that everyone thought they had. And in particular Amir, a torn, destroyed man.

A delicate, intense score for the title role, Sami Bouajila, who was up for it from the start. What convinced him? “The writing and the subject. hotly topical, sums up the actor the day after the premiere. I find that it is a word that must be expressed and it is good that in the theater, the spectator can have a return of our time, a return of which not everyone is necessarily aware.

And evoke ambient racism, uninhibited Islamophobia, in particular? The comedian shades: “The subject is the result of a denial by a good part of the Western community – here in this case, it’s in the United States and it’s about American Muslims – but, interbreeding is everywhere and France has its own, different from that of the Americans.insists Sami Bouajila, to highlight the consequences, not to say the sequels or the traumas of a whole section of a society which is denied. The main character is the fruit of a crushing hatred towards him. It comes to the point where it denies itself. He has no love for him, but it’s a legacy he has. A legacy that is part of a story.”

The text, when it was released, caused controversy. Some retaining more criticism of Islam. The dialogues are hard, the characters push themselves very far into their entrenchments. “The play ends with a redemption. Once he has lost everything, this man will finally be able to leave again. The writing is done through the two characters, an extreme negation of mine, what he is, what he represents. And a pendant to this, his wife, who comes out of the clichés in which we want to inquire, to show another history of Islam. If we are decided to see the opposite side, everyone will see.”

This piece “can not leave indifferent, continues Sami Bouajila. We are all traumatized by these things. Now, one of two things: do we continue to recover this heritage and restore it, or do we stop and finally assume the crossbreeding of our society? Because France is mixed race, whether we like it or not. As long as we do not approach this debate other than by demagogy, the great replacement, etc., as long as we do not return to the coherence of a story which is that France, for example, is 400 years old shared history with its former colonies. As long as we deny that, the Republic will miss its secularism and will build, without its knowledge, a community country.

This Thursday, April 28 at 8 p.m. Then 12 performances until May 14. at Anthea in Antibes. Prices: from 10 to 40 euros.


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“Disgrace” an uppercut to Anthéa, to see until May 14