After "To Damascus" by August Strindberg

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The 2015 archive

Jonathan Châtel

Thélus-Arras / Created in 2015

Andreas © Christophe Raynaud de Lage


A nameless man, a wandering lady, a street corner; the starting point of Andreas, adaptation of the first part of To Damascus by Jonathan Châtel, brings together the conditions necessary for a potential new beginning for the Stranger invented by Strindberg. Exiled in a strange country and cut off from all social ties, he waits, unknowing. Will he disappear? Will he come back to life? His encounter with the Lady awakens in him the hope of finding his way back to childhood, and thus to a potential future, but the past and its spectres threaten to drag him down different paths. Which should he take, if he wants to lose or to find himself again? Translating and adapting August Strindberg's epic, in which he sees an attempt by the writer to reinvent himself, Jonathan Châtel emphasises the mirror effect between the characters surrounding the Stranger. Seen again and again under different guises, the feeling they instill is reminiscent of those dreams in which different figures share the same face. By playing with the notion of dream, Jonathan Châtel is able to reveal the forgotten name of the Stranger, Andreas, to give form to his confrontation with the Absolute, and to question the struggle of a man against his own demons. 

Trained as an actor, with a degree in philosophy and in theatre studies, Jonathan Châtel works as an actor, a playwright, and a director, before leaving for Oslo for three years. Upon coming back, he founds with playwright Sandrine Le Pors the company ELK, before translating, adapting, and directing Henrik Ibsen's Little Eyolf in 2012. Jonathan Châtel also works as a bande dessinée writer (Kirkenes, Les Enfants rouges), co-directs documentaries (Les Réfugiés de la nuit polaire (The Refugees of Polar Night)), and teaches theatre studies at the university level (UCL, Belgium), multiplying his experiences to feed his dramatic creation. The French-Norwegian director may have inherited from the north a more acute sensibility to the changes of the light, to the power of natural elements, and to their influence on voices and on the movements of bodies. His original passion for drawing may also be what drives him to seek the intensity of the theatre in a stripped-down, clear style.

Born in 1849 in Stockholm, August Strindberg first knows success in his work and happiness in the first few years of his marriage until in 1883, driven by critics and by his own neuroses, he begins a period of wandering that will last years. After several trials and divorces, during a painful time of crisis he will later describe in Inferno, he gives up on writing, lives like a recluse in Paris, and devotes himself to alchemy. But in 1898, Strindberg writes the first part of To Damascus (Till Damaskus) in one go, which marks his reconciliation with the theatre, and with life. In 1907, he founds the Intimate Theatre he'd been dreaming of.


Direction, adaptation and translation Jonathan Châtel
Artistic collaboration Sandrine Le Pro
Scenography Gaspard Pinta
Lights Marie-Christine Soma
Music Étienne Bonhomme
Costumes Fanny Brouste
Assistant director Enzo Giacomazzi

With Pauline Acquart La Fille, La Religieuse
Pierre Baux Le Médecin, Le Mendiant, Le Vieillard
Thierry Raynaud L'Inconnu
Nathalie Richard La Dame, La Mère


Production Compagnie ELK
Coproduction Festival d'Avignon, La Commune Centre dramatique national d'Aubervilliers, Tandem Douai-Arras Scène nationale, Théâtre Olympia Centre dramatique régional de Tours, le phénix Scène nationale de Valenciennes, Le Festival d'Automne à Paris
With the support of la Région Nord-Pas de Calais et de la DRAC Nord-Pas de Calais-Ministère de la Culture et de la Communication
With the help of the Studio Théâtre de Vitry and the Théâtre du Nord Centre dramatique national de Lille-Tourcoing

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