Ahmed Madani has a gift for harvesting words and transforming intimate stories, made up of tragedy and comedy, into unforgettable theatrical experiences. In recent years, the public of the “off” festival in Avignon had made a triumph with its trilogy Facing their destiny (Illumination(s), F(l)ames, Incandescences), in which young people from working-class neighborhoods told their stories. This summer, this director, this “transmitter” as he likes to define himself, returns to the city of the Popes, only with Anissa, one of the actresses of F(l)ammes, and shocks us again.
His new creation, Au non du père, offers viewers a moment of life, in the full and complete sense of the term. Thanks to the bias of narration and the scenic device that blur the boundaries between reality and fiction, those who play and those who watch have never been so close. We would like to reveal nothing, leave room for surprise, as everything is astonishing in this theatrical proposal. Let’s just say that the lights remain on in the room, that Anissa tells us a true story, that the director remains on the set and that a divine smell of praline and chocolate accompanies this crazy adventure.
This singular adventure began in 2018, during one of the tours of the show F(l)ammes. “One day, Anissa tells me that she has never known her father and has been looking for him since childhood. The twists and turns of his quest were so crazy, so touching that I offered to help him and make a show of it,” explains Ahmed Madami. In order for her to build “her destiny” and “get rid of this weight” of absence, he encourages her to try to meet her father, even if the latter opposes it, accompanies her in her efforts and films in all his peregrinations. Thus was born Au non du père.
Anissa (who does not want to give her last name) likes to tell and share stories, but she does not consider herself an actress. Yet she is, with stunning intuitiveness, generosity and authenticity. Her freedom of play is such that this chattering and sensitive young woman becomes the character of a human tragedy. “It’s like a kind of ready-made”, summarizes Ahmed Madani.
In this theater of reality which allows non-professionals to reveal themselves, the story may be intimate, it is never immodest and avoids all pathos. Reality ? Fiction ? It does not matter, the important thing is the emotions provided by this story. And it is an understatement to say that Anissa’s quest takes the viewer through multiple emotions. In the first part of the show, there is this question – disturbing, even dizzying – that she asks everyone and that no one expects: “Close your eyes for a minute and think of the best and the worst memory with your father. »
With the story of Anissa, Ahmed Madani tries, as with his trilogy, to make theater accessible to everyone, by breaking the fourth wall. “When the public enters the room, I like to make sure that it is in an ambiguity, explains the director. Are we in the theater or not, is the story true or not, why does it touch us deeply and can we identify with the person on the stage? It is a way of showing that the theater is not remote, that it is not complicated. There are stories that are not in the great national novel, there are words that we should hear more frequently. During the trilogy, young viewers would say, “Is this theater? But it’s us!” »
Septuagenarian full of energy, for ten years he has been nourished by dialogue with the younger generations. At a time when theaters are faced with a drop in attendance and an aging audience, Ahmed Madani considers it “fundamental to conquer new audiences by addressing young people as a priority”.
His next project will focus on the speech of children aged 10 to 15. As usual, thanks to the workshops he leads in Fontenay-sous-Bois (Val-de-Marne), the director spoke for a year with many of them, getting them to talk about their life, the world around them and how they see themselves in the future. Then he will move on to writing. “This word will resonate strongly, because it places us, adults, in our relationship to our childhood and refers us to the hopes we had. Just as Anissa, by questioning her family ties, confronts us with our own history.