after "Ubu sur la butte" and "Ubu roi" by Alfred Jarry

  • Theatre
  • Show
The 2015 archive

Olivier Martin-Salvan

Paris-Brest / Created in 2015 / First time in France

Ubu © Christophe Raynaud de Lage


In the light of The Supermale, a novel by Alfred Jarry which isn't quite as well-known as his plays, actor Olivier Martin-Salvan discovers aspects of Papa Ubu that put in doubt the comical naivety that is usually seen as his primary characteristic. A dark cruelty, a tendency to abrupt explosions of violence, and an outrageous sexuality give less joyful features to the man-child that is Papa Ubu. In Ubu on the Mound, Alfred Jarry recycles the action of Ubu Rex in a denser form, denying his characters any psychology. The brainlessness that reigns in the play led plastic artists Clédat & Petitpierre to create a radical setting: an aerobics room. The leotards worn in this setting, the bright lights, and the mind-numbing music that plays in gyms cleverly draw a parallel between pointless physical exercise and Ubu's determination to gain power. Endlessly repeating the same gestures and taking part in pageants to climb a podium or win a medal seem to be motivated by the same urge that drives Papa Ubu to commit crime after crime to hang on to whatever power he has. The audience, surrounding the stage as if it were a boxing ring, watch every detail of the rise in power of a dictatorship that, as grotesque as it may be, frighteningly brings to mind character flaws that are all too common.

Born in 1873 in Laval, the original and sometimes scandalous Alfred Jarry (who died in Paris in 1907) developed the character that made him famous through a number of plays: Ubu Rex, Ubu Cuckolded, Ubu in Chains, and Ubu on the Mound, which mock the greed, the selfishness, and the foolishness of the potbellied dictator. In the novels he wrote in parallel, like Love in Visits, Messalina, or The Supermale, the father of pataphysics absurdly pushed human characteristics to the point of automation, creating puppets whose lives were nothing but excess when it came to power, to the appetites of the flesh, or to transgressing the social order.

Founded in 1947 as a product of cultural decentralisation, the Festival d'Avignon has decided to change its own dynamics and to go beyond its own physical and symbolic borders. Following its first tour outside the walls of Avignon and the success of Nathalie Garraud and Olivier Saccomano's Othello, Variation for three actors, itinerant shows are back with Olivier Martin-Salvan's Ubu. Fifteen locations draw a new map, invite you to take to the road, and bring the Festival d'Avignon closer to its local population.


Original idea Olivier Martin-Salvan
Artistic collaboration Thomas Blanchard
Collective adaptation

Scenography and costumes Clédat & Petitpierre
Music David Colosio
Choreography Sylvain Riejou

Thomas Blanchard
Le prince Bougrelas, Un noble, Le greffier, Un magistrat, Le financier, Nicolas Rensky, le Czar
Robin Causse
Le Palotin Giron, Mathias de Koenigsberg, Un noble, Un magistrat, Un soldat polonais, L'Ours
Mathilde Hennegrave La reine Rosemonde, Mère Ubu, Un soldat russe
Olivier Martin-Salvan Père Ubu
Gilles Ostrowsky Le roi Venceslas, Un noble, Un magistrat, Le général Lascy


Production Tsen Productions
Coproduction Festival d'Avignon, le Quartz Scène nationale de Brest, Théâtre du Beauvaisis Scène nationale de l'Oise en préfiguration, les Tréteaux de France Centre dramatique national, La Comète Scène nationale de Châlons-en-Champagne, La Péniche Opéra
With the support of  l'Odéon - Théâtre de l'Europe, Théâtre Gérard Philipe Centre dramatique national de Saint-Denis

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