A taxi driver, a group of tourists, three birds and a few others are called to testify. They've all met Miahela, a strange creature seemingly unaware of the local customs, and they all hesitate as to his, her, or its identity... And for good reason, given that Mihaela is a tigress who escaped her zoo to see the city, and the world. With this whimsical fable narrated like a documentary film, Gianina Cărbunariu and Sofia Jupither offer us a funny and powerful satire of our relationship to the other. Their outlook is kind but uncompromising: The Tigress is the story of beings that are vulnerable but who all have strong ties to the urban system—from the homeless man to the banker—and who respond with confusion, pettiness, or even violence when faced with otherness. If the shadow of Ceaușescu seems to loom over this (real? fake?) panicked town, it is rather the demons of today's Europe that are the greater threat. Sofia Jupither eschews costumes and figurative settings, choosing to draw an abstract space in which subjective tales turn into media noise. Her five actors play archetypes rather than fully-fledged characters, holding up a mirror to the audience that may unsettle them but doesn't distort the truth.
Sofia Jupither isn't afraid to seem naive: the goal of her theatre is to understand people and what motivates their actions, even the strangest and cruelest of them, without judgment. Since 2001 in Sweden and 2005 in Norway, she has met with great acclaim, especially when directing Scandinavian playwrights, be they classic—Ibsen and Strindberg—or modern—Jon Fosse and Lars Norén, a fellow Swede. In Norén's work, she particularly enjoys the empathy that transpires in his attempt to clinically describe the modern world. As part of the project Villes en scène/Cities on stage, his text Fragmente was directed by Sofia Jupither in Gothenburg in 2012. It is through that project that she met Romanian playwright Gianina Cărbunariu. With The Tigress, she has chosen to venture into a new dramatic genre: a composite form of theatre, characterised by its distance and its direct address to the audience. A new experience that shares with her previous creations the desire to show that everything in man is human.
Gianina Cărbunariu's theatre is tough and uncompromising, always oscillating between revolt and disillusionment. . Shown in theatres all around the world, her plays offer an alternative look at modern Romania while also forcing us to think about western representations of progress and success. Her work as a playwright and a director is symbolic of a new wave of political theatre in Europe, originating from the East, which faces head-on the issues of the European model of community integration, identitarian closure, and collective action. At the Festival d'Avignon, she directed Solitaritate in 2014, as part of the European project Villes en scène/Cities on Stage. The Tigress, a mockumentary, was made into a radio play for France Culture and was adapted for a public reading for the Rencontres d'été in the Charterhouse of Villeneuve lez Avignon in 2014.
Text Gianina Cărbunariu
Translation Inger Johannson
Direction Sofia Jupither
Stage design Erlend Birkeland
Costumes Maria Geber
Lights Ellen Ruge
Masks Gunilla Petterson
Sound Hobi Jarne
With David Fukamachi Regnfors, Fredrik Gunnarson, Anders Hambraeus, Åsa Persson, Jonas Sjöqvist
Production Jupither Josephsson Theatre Company
Co-production Royal Dramatic Theatre Stockholm, Malmö City Theatre, Folkteatern Gothenburg, Riksteatern, Örebro Länsteater, Festival d'Avignon
With the support of Kulturbryggan, PostkodLotteriets Kulturstiftelse, Stockholm City Council, Kulturrådet, ProSuecia Foundation, Swedish Cultural Institut, Romanian Cultural Institut, and in the programme Culture of European Union as part of Villes en scène/Cities on stage
La Tigresse by Gianina Cărbunariu, translation Alexandra Lazarescou is published by éditions Actes Sud-Papiers.