Partage de midi (Break of Noon)

by Paul Claudel

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The 2008 archive

Valérie Dréville

Paris / Created in 2008

Partage de midi © Christophe Raynaud de Lage / Festival d'Avignon


Gaël Baron studied at the Conservatoire National Supérieur d'Art Dramatique. While acting in works by Pasolini, Koltès, Wyspianski, Lagarce and Schwab under the direction of Stanislas Nordey, he also worked for many directors including Claude Régy, Jean-Pierre Vincent, Stéphanie Loïk, Gildas Milin, Jean-François Sivadier, Gislaine Drahy, Françoise Coupat, Gérard Watkins, Bruno Meyssat and Daniel Jeanneteau.

Nicolas Bouchaud met Didier-Georges Gabily (1955-1996) in 1992 with whom he worked until the death of the author-director, who produced several shows that were among the most important of their period. He then continued the same type of adventure with Jean-François Sivadier. He also notably worked with Rodrigo García, Bernard Sobel and the Théâtre Dromesko. At the Festival d'Avignon, he already acted in Hollows and Des cercueils de zinc (Zine Coffins) by Didier-Georges Gabily in 1993, Henry IV by Shakespeare directed by Yann-Joël Collin in 1999 and the title roles directed by Jean-François Sivadier – Galileo by Brecht in 2002, Danton's Death by Büchner in 2005 and King Lear by Shakespeare in 2007.

Charlotte Clamens met Valérie Dréville at the Chaillot school under the direction of Antoine Vitez, who hired her to act in Electra in 1986. She next worked with Laurent Pelly and Alain Françon, Marcel Bozonnet and Tilly, then with Jean-François Sivadier. She acted in Italienne avec orchestre (Italian with Orchestra), Noli me tangere and Danton's Death. She also teaches in several schools. In Break of Noon, she contributes an outside view to its collective staging. At the Festival d'Avignon, Charlotte Clamens acted in Henry IV by Shakespeare directed by Yann-Joël Collin in 1999, Bérénice by Racine directed by Lambert Wilson in 2001 and Danton's Death by Büchner directed by Jean-François Sivadier in 2005.

Trained as an actor by Didier-Georges Gabily, then at the school of the Théâtre National de Strasbourg, Jean-François Sivadier has notably worked with Jacques Lasalle, Christian Rist, Alain Françon, Dominique Pitoiset, while becoming a director. He wrote Italienne avec orchestre (Italian with Orchestra), which premiered in 1996 and was revived in 2003, a brilliant satire on the world of opera that he frequented when he put on stage Madame Butterfly by Puccini and Wozzeck by Alban Berg. Faithful to his training with Didier-Georges Gabily, he considers that theatre can only be a collective work. At the Festival d'Avignon, Jean-François Sivadier acted in Hollows by Didier-Georges Gabily in 1993 and in Henry IV by Shakespeare directed by Yann-Joël Collin in 1999 and presented Galileo by Brecht in 2002, a diptych, Galileo – Danton's Death by Büchner in 2005, and King Lear by Shakespeare in the Cour d'honneur of the Popes' Palace in 2007.

It is the desire to learn that seems to be at the heart of Valérie Dréville's approach to acting, even more than the desire to act. This is undoubtedly what makes her career atypical, rich in adventures and powerful experiences that transform her and permit her to always be where she is not necessarily expected. Learning and transmitting, of course, because Valérie Dréville does not want to isolate herself in an individual practice whose sterility would be totally foreign to her nature, someone who loves above all to share. (read more...)

Paul Claudel (1868-1955) was 37 years old when he wrote Break of Noon, a work he clearly acknowledged as autobiographical. At the end of a love relationship with a married woman, he experienced the drama of separation. From this passion he lived on Chinese soil, when he was the French consul in Fou Tcheou, was born the first version of Break of Noon, published in 150 copies secretly sent to a few friends. It was only in 1948 that he agreed that a reworked version be published and staged by Jean-Louis Barrault.

A rare project in the French theatre, Break of Noon is acted and directed by four actors: Valérie Dréville, Jean-François Sivadier, Nicolas Bouchaud and Gaël Baron, under the gaze of a fifth person: Charlotte Clamens. Actors with diverse careers whose situation is a mirror image of that of the characters in Break of Noon, as is described at the beginning of act 1: “Let us examine our hands as when you play poker, the cards dealt / Here we are involved together in the game like four needles, and who knows the wool / That fate has reserved for us to knit all four of us together?” In Claudel's writing, actors and characters merge and space is first shown as theatre, as the place of an experience that is undertaken between actors and spectators, like an invitation to share the same treasure. Break of Noon, presented here in its first version, unfolds around the mystery of passion. Claudel wrote this version “in the heat of the moment”, without any retrospection, when he found himself in the loss and pain of a great love, mad, carnal, erotic. The word “sharing” also refers to amorous sharing, the object of the sharing, this Ysé who successively belongs to the three men in the play, shared between contradictory desires. It is a singular play because it is autobiographical: “Claudel wrote and rewrote Break of Noon with the feeling of writing and rewriting his own life as if the biographical text and the dramatic text were the two sides of the same text”, Anne Ubersfeld notes. Break of Noon is firstly the experience of exile, of China which gradually hems in the characters with its shadows, and that of war as well, at the moment of the Chinese Boxer Rebellion against European occupation. Claudel was confronted on all sides by the colonial problem with its brutality and rapacious conquest. It is in this war situation that the exaltation of carnal and spiritual desire between Ysé and Mesa, emblematic figures of impossible love, is consumed... To tell the truth about these conflicts, the author has invented a unique language, far from academicism, a language of breath that questions the very practice of the actor and that involves a genuine theatricalness of the bodies. We can dream of this theatre ensemble as a collective power, a poetic association, with art as the authentic utopian horizon.


mise en scène: Gaël Baron, Nicolas Bouchaud, Charlotte Clamens, Valérie Dréville, Jean-François Sivadier
avec: Gaël Baron, Nicolas Bouchaud, Valérie Dréville, Jean-François Sivadier
collaboration à la scénographie: Christian Tirole
travail sur le mouvement: Philippe Ducou
costumes: Virginie Gervaise
lumières: Jean-Jacques Beaudouin en collaboration avec:
Philippe Berthomé
son: Jean-Louis Imbert
production déléguée: Festival d'Avignon
texte publié aux éditions Gallimard


coproduction: Festival d'Avignon, Les Gémeaux-Sceaux Scène nationale, Italienne avec orchestre, Centre dramatique national Orléans-Loiret-Centre, La rose des vents -Scène nationale de Lille Métropole à Villeneuve d'Ascq, L'Espace Malraux Scène nationale de Chambéry et de la Savoie
avec le soutien de: la Région Île-de-France
Le Festival d'Avignon reçoit le soutien de l'Adami pour la production
navette au départ d'Avignon et restauration sur place

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