A Polish Catholic Resistance fighter, Jan Karski witnessed a major tragedy of history: the extermination of the Jewish population of the Warsaw ghetto. A tragedy for which he became a messenger to those who had the power to act and put an end to it. His appeal, however, would not be acted on, despite his meeting with Roosevelt. A forgotten, or almost forgotten hero, despite the book he published in 1944, Courier from Poland: The Story of a Secret State, he would be in the spotlight when the film-maker Claude Lanzmann had him speak, in 1985 in his essential film Shoah, of that incredible journey that took him to the office of the president of the United States. Disturbed by the story of this man confronted, in 1943, with the passivity of the Allied democracies regarding the genocide organized by the Nazis, Yannick Haenel wrote a novel in 2009. A fiction built in three time frames: that of the words transcribed from the film, that of Karski's autobiography, and lastly, that of the novelist's imagination that has the hero speak in the present tense. In his turn, disturbed by this book with its original construction, Arthur Nauzyciel wanted to stage it, convinced that "if there are no limits to literature," it should be the same for theatre. As it has ever been the case, theatre is able to communicate the voice of those who can no longer speak and transmit this tragedy of imposed silence to the largest number. At a moment when direct witnesses of the Holocaust are leaving us, it is time to hand over, so that nothing is forgotten. It is the time for witnesses of witnesses to cast a new look and ask new questions, sometimes disturbing but always necessary. Theatre fiction fully ventures into these territories of terror where, without betraying factual truth, it can provide new light on the real, taking into account the irreducible part of the human being, and in this way avoid simplistic didacticism. Surrounded by a Polish visual artist, a Latin-American set designer, an American lighting technician, an Austrian musician and the actor Laurent Poitrenaux, Arthur Nauzyciel continues to express his desire for a theatre beyond borders, which questions itself while questioning the world's memory.
Yannick Haenel was 29 when he published his first book, in 1996, Les Petits soldats. In 2005, after the publication of several novels - Introduction à la mort française, Évoluer parmi les avalanches and À mon seul désir -, which earned him praise from the public and the literary world, he quit teaching (he had obtained the highest literary teaching degree). Winner of the Décembre prize for Circle, published in 2007, he wrote Jan Karski in 2009, which was awarded the Interallié prize. A book that, blending historical documents and fictional elements on Jan Karski's life, triggered a debate on the relationship between history and fiction, always a sensitive subject, especially when we deal with the Shoah. Yannick Haenel has just published a new novel: Le Sens du calme.
director and adaptation Arthur Nauzyciel
scenography Riccardo Hernandez
choregraphy Damien Jalet
music Christian Fennesz
lighting Scott Zielinski
sound Xavier Jacquot
costumes José Lévy
video Miroslaw Balka
with Alexandra Gilbert, Arthur Nauzyciel, Laurent Poitrenaux
and the voice of Marthe Keller
production Centre dramatique national Orléans/Loiret/Centre
coproduction Festival d'Avignon, Les Gémeaux Scène nationale de Sceaux, CDDB-Théâtre de Lorient Centre dramatique national, Maison de la Culture de Bourges Scène nationale, La Comédie de Reims Centre dramatique national, Festival Scènes d'Europe
avec le soutien de la Région Centre, de l'Institut Polonais de Paris et de la Fondation d'entreprise Hermès dans le cadre de son programme New settings
avec la participation de l'Institut Français
avec l'aide du Théâtre TR Warszawa (Varsovie) et le soutien de l'Ambassade de France en Pologne
Par son soutien, l'Adami aide le Festival d'Avignon à s'engager sur des coproductions.