The Chewing of the Dead

oratorio in progress

By Patrick Kermann

  • Show
  • Theatre
The 2022 archive

Groupe Merci

Villeneuve lez Avignon - Toulouse

A curious and inspired invitation to listen to the forgotten voices of a graveyard at dusk! The dead have so much to tell us. Could it be that rumination keeps you alive?

The Chewing of the deads, Groupe Merci, 2022 © Christophe Raynaud de Lage / Festival d'Avignon


In this Oratorio in progress, Patrick Kermann plays with death and gives voice to those that are no more. In the graveyard of Moret-sur-Raguse, this funeral procession brings together, with harmony and dissonance, the seemingly-anecdotal personal lives of the dead and the great historical events that concern us all. With the Grim Reaper and the specters it creates, the author wants to draw a space of ceremony where the dead can say what they would be ashamed of saying, what they are obsessed with. And always with exultation. With its twenty performers, Groupe Merci invites us to bear witness to those fragile memories and to wander through the cloister of the graveyard to get as close to the dead as possible, the quirkiness of the confessions always a dizzying reminder that we are alive. Like a kaleidoscope of voices and presences, an emanation of the hereafter and an existential contemplation, this Chewing of the Dead will be exceptionally recreated at dusk in the same location as the 1999 original. An invitation to come hear the memories of those very lively dead.

Patrick Kermann was a French playwright who wrote for the theatre and the opera, and translated Euripides, Seneca, and Thomas Bernhard. He defined his relationship to language as “that of a rhythmic body, a foreign language which doesn’t speak of the world but of its irreconcilable distance from the world.”


With Catherine Beilin, Jean-François Bourinet, Georges Campagnac, Olivier Chombart, Frédéric Cuif, Marie-Céline Daubagna, Anaïs Durin, Pierre-Jean Étienne, Gaetano Giunta, Étienne Grebot, Dominique Habouzit, Ghislaine Maucorps, Karine Monneau, Solange Oswald, Marc Ravayrol, Tanguy Trillet and associated masticators

Text Patrick Kermann
Conception and direction Joël Fesel, Solange Oswald
Artistic collaboration Jude Anderson
Dramaturgy Marie-Laure Hée
Costumes Sophie Lafont

Technical management Cinthia Corot, Silvio Martini
Production, diffusion Céline Maufra
Administration Celia Medan


Production (1999) Groupe Merci, La Chartreuse-CNES de Villeneuve lez Avignon, Théâtre de la Digue (Toulouse)
Co-production (2012) Pronomade(s) en Haute-Garonne Centre national des arts de la rue et de l’espace public, Les Treize Arches Scène conventionnée de Brive
With the support of the Ville de Toulouse, Conservatoire à rayonnement régional de Toulouse
With the help of the ThéâtredelaCité Centre Dramatique National de Toulouse Occitanie, Drac Occitanie - ministère de la Culture, Département de la Haute-Garonne, SACD, Adami
Co-host Festival d’Avignon, La Chartreuse-CNES de Villeneuve lez Avignon

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Press conference - 20 July

  • Press conference
  • Ali Chahrour
  • Groupe Merci
  • Anaïs Muller
  • Bertrand Poncet
  • Robert Sandoz

The 2022 archive