After his studies at the Conservatoire national supérieur d'Art dramatique in Paris, Jean-Baptiste Sastre signed his first staging in 1995, History Experienced by King Toto, after the work by Antonin Artaud. He next staged texts by Genet, Duras, Marlowe, Büchner, Marivaux, Labiche and Coleridge. His work as a director does not solely consist in directing actors, but also in creating with those who accompany him, and more particularly the poets and plastic artists he surrounds himself with, aesthetics specific to each show. In 2005, Jean-Baptiste Sastre, the winner of the "Villa Médicis hors les murs" in London, started work on the Elizabethan theatre and in particular on Richard II, which he will present this year in the Cour d'honneur for his first participation in the Festival d'Avignon.
For his staging of The Tragedy of King Richard II, Jean-Baptiste Sastre will use a new translation of the play by Frédéric Boyer. Interested first of all in literature, philosophy and exegesis, Frédéric Boyer published his first story, The Consolation at the age of 30. He then resolutely turned to writing novels, essays and poetry, without neglecting translation. It was in this latter role that he was the "general manager" of the project that led, in 2001, to the publication of a new version of the Bible by contemporary writers including Olivier Cadiot, Jean Echenoz and Valère Novarina. His translation of The Tragedy of King Richard II, along with the Sonnets, will appear in May published by P.O.L.
A plastic artist invited throughout the world, who has lived and worked in France since 1962, Sarkis is accompanying Jean-Baptiste Sastre in the creation of The Tragedy of King Richard II, after a first collaboration on a sound, visual and olfactory installation at the Grande Mosquée de Paris, for the 2009 session of the Nuit blanche ("Sleepless Night"). A genuine sculptor of spaces, he notably works on light, sound and history-laden objects, encountered by chance, that he stages to establish a bridge between past and present.
With the exception of The Life and Death of King John, William Shakespeare's tragedies have all as a backdrop the War(s) of the Roses, which spilled rivers of blood in Great Britain and Ireland between 1399 and 1485, from the deposing of Richard II to the coronation of Henry VIII. For the playwright, the idea was not to recount history, but to ask, starting from that of the kings who succeeded each other on the throne, questions on the power and passions that it can give rise to. Written and performed in 1595, revived and censured in 1597, when the position of Queen Elizabeth I was threatened, The Tragedy of King Richard II was not staged in France until 1947, when it was presented by Jean Vilar, at the first Semaine d'Art d'Avignon.