Brazilian Christiane Jatahy surprises at the Avignon Festival with a multiform and multimedia show. With The Present Overflowing Our Odyssey II , the Brazilian director and director tells The Homer's Odyssey in her own way, with the refugees and exiles of today as actors. It removes the boundary between cinema and theater, between reality and fiction and puts actors and viewers in a new place.
RFI : According to the overflowing present , Homer's Odyssey is more relevant than ever. Why ?
Christiane Jatahy : Homer's Odyssey is an opportunity to see the world today. There are many parallels between Ulysses and Penelope [ his wife who is waiting for the return of her husband for twenty years, ed ] and what is happening today. The Odyssey talks about the refugee issue and the role of the state. It's about using the imagination and memory of this text to talk about today.
Putting exiles and refugees on a theater stage is very political. You have played this coin in your country, Brazil, ruled since this year by a far-right president, Jair Bolsonaro. How did public opinion and your audience react to your show ?
It's a political act, all the visible people in the show are refugees and artists. Today, they are the refugees, but tomorrow it can be me. There is no hierarchy, we are together. I presented the play in Brazil for five weeks in Sao Paulo. It was very strong because over there we are in the middle of the tragedy. So to show this parallel was very strong. For us, it was also an opportunity to build this show in relation with the public and with what is happening today. The press has talked a lot about it. And the audience was growing with us.
► Also read : "Architecture", the radical or failed opening of the Avignon Festival
Being an artist in Brazil and doing drama, has this become an act of resistance today ?
For me, it is very important to be supported today in France by the Odeon-Theater of Europe in Paris and the cultural center Centquatre and also in Switzerland, in Zurich. It gives me the opportunity to build, to create. Right now, in Brazil, there is no opportunity to create, because they cut everything. Doing theater is an act of resistance. It is an act of resistance of all my family, of all the artists of my country. To build something, you have to make a lot of effort. For me, this represents a great responsibility to tell what is going on there and in the world. For this, theater is always an act of resistance.
Your piece is a multimedia piece, it's both theater and cinema. The actors, dispersed in the audience, dialogue through the stage between the big screen and the theater. And you mount yourself live images projected on the screen. Is it important to make a multimedia show to be able to tell and give back the tragedies of our time ?
I do not think it's necessary. I work that way, because I'm also a filmmaker, so cinema is part of me. I am very interested in borders. This show is both theater and cinema, but especially a play on the borders. The cinema makes it possible to build other possibilities of points of view. But, in the end, everything is theater, because we live the present moment. There are things that happen between us and the public. And that also changes the cinema which is normally always anchored in the past. With the presence of the theater, the cinema is recorded in the present moment and thus also represents the present moment.
You were born in 1968 in Rio de Janeiro where you founded the company Vertice de Teatro. Your father and your grandfather were both very politically engaged. Is the art of resistance also a question of transmission ?
Maybe [smile]. When a person lives his childhood and part of his adult life in a dictatorship, if you are sensitive, if you are an artist, it is impossible not to respect the people who fought for democracy. My family gave me the base, then it was my own experience that made me what I am as an artist. It is inseparable from my being and my ethics.
► O Agora que demora - The overflowing present - our Odyssey II , creation of Christiane Jatahy with refugees met in South Africa, Lebanon, Greece, Palestine, and Amazon Kayapo Indians, until July 12th at the Gymnasium Lycée Aubanel, as part of the 73rd Festival d'Avignon.