Jalila Baccar & Fadhel Jaïbi

Jalila Baccar and Fadhel Jaïbi met for the first time 40 years ago in southern Tunisia, at the edge of the Sahara. She was an actress and subsequently became a playwright; an author and director, he had returned from Paris where he had graduated from the Sorbonne. From their meeting and that of a group of independent artists, a first company, Le Nouveau Théâtre de Tunisie, was founded in 1976. It would become Familia Productions a few years later, with the development of a cinematographic activity. It was the time of President Bourguiba. The regime of the Tunisian independence leader alternated authoritarian with more liberal periods, the latter permitting the company to work throughout the entire country. Jalila Baccar and Fadhel Jaïbi always managed to organize tours of their shows, which are accessible to a large audience because they use all the spoken languages in Tunisia: literary Arabic, urban dialectical Arabic, Bedouin and French. This desire to be understood by every layer of society also appears in the working guidelines that they set for themselves. Close to a Brechtian theatre of "entertainment" in which improvisations during rehearsals play an important role, very much influenced by Shakespeare, their plays recount, on an uncluttered stage, stories in tune with Tunisian reality. Without rejecting complexity, they seek a truth that is sometimes fragmented, often ignored and even repressed: the truth of their country, in its relations with its own history as well as with the Western world that colonized it. The company is now worldly famous and was invited at the Festival d'Avignon in 2002 to present Junun. When the dictatorial system of President Ben Ali attempted to stifle its voice through ferocious censorship, this international recognition acted as a shield.

JFP, May, 2011.