The brothers Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm spent years gathering the tales and legends of northern Europe, collecting several dozen folk tales and countless different versions, even sometimes changing the story so as to spare bourgeois sensibilities. Olivier Py found in their work the material for plays that would allow him to show young children the mysteries and conventions of “real” theatre, without ever talking down to them. The Girl, the Devil and the Mill is based on The Girl Without Hands, keeping the same basic narrative structure. It is the story of a naïve father who makes a deal with the devil without realising that it is his daughter he is sacrificing, and who ends up cutting both her hands out of fear of the devil's revenge. But the young girl flees and begins a journey fraught with perils and chance encounters, with a gardener or with a prince, but also with sleep and waiting. All those ordeals, all those encounters, all those necessary steps before possibly finding happiness allow Olivier Py to bring up numerous questions children often ask themselves without daring to talk about them: questions about death, the devil, love, war, memory, about the relationship between a child and his or her parents... An initiation journey that is never sentimental, The Girl, the Devil and the Mill is also a musical that speaks to the child in every one of us. Very simple by design, it oscillates between naivety and gravity, and ends with a ray of hope.
Poet, playwright, novelist, director for the theatre and the opera, actor, singer... Olivier Py has lived and breathed the theatre since 1988. In 1995, he made a splash at the Festival d'Avignon with The Servant, An Endless Story, a cycle of plays lasting for 24 hours, before coming back to the Festival time and again, with Apologetic, The Face of Orpheus, The Joyful Apocalypse, Requiem for Srebrenica, The Winners, The Vilar Enigma shown in the Cour d'honneur. He also sang Miss Knife for the OFF festival. In 2006 he wrote his first comedy, Comedy Illusions, before beginning a long work on tragedy with The Children of Saturn, the Oresteia, and Aeschylus's Seven Against Thebes, The Suppliants, and The Persians. His work often includes references to Jean Vilar and to popular forms of theatre. Director of the Centre dramatique national d'Orléans, then of the Odéon-Théâtre de l'Europe, he has been active in the fight for public theatre and has defended several political causes: with Ariane Mnouchkine and François Tanguy against the siege of Sarajevo, supporting undocumented immigrants, raising the Palestinian flag and welcoming the Syrian resistance at the Odéon Theatre, supporting Christiane Taubira and the cause of gay marriage, speaking out against the far right during the 2014 municipal elections... He has been the director of the Festival d'Avignon since September 2013.
"La Jeune Fille, le Diable et le Moulin" is published by éditions L’École des loisirs.
Adaptation and direction Olivier Py
Set and costumes Pierre-André Weitz
Music Stéphane Leach
Light Bertrand Killy
François Michonneau Le Père, Le Prince, L'Enfant et Le premier squelette
Léo Muscat La Mère et Le Jardinier
Benjamin Ritter Le Diable et Le deuxième squelette
Delia Sepulcre Nativi La Jeune Fille puis La Princesse
Production Festival d'Avignon, Théâtre de la Ville-Paris