Philippe Quesne: “I wanted to project myself into space and stage asteroids”

In his space opera “Cosmic Drama”, the whimsical director conjures up a story that nicely combines humor and science fiction.

Some days getting close to the stars is still the best thing to do… After proposing in 2019 at Theater Basel (Basel) cosmic drama, piece dedicated to the genre of space opera, Philippe Quesne was delighted with this intuition two years later, when repetition was a great flight to escape a terrestrial universe that had become ultra-safe due to a health crisis. “I created the show during the Covid pandemic; I didn’t change the narrative thread of the play, but it took on a different meaning to have to work in deserted theaters with hygiene rules so drastic they provoked a nuclear accident.”

With Philippe Quesne, the desire to fly is an obsession, which he poeticizes from his first show in 2003, The itch of the wings. “Most often in my plays we try to take off, but we can’t… I would imagine the opposite to project myself into space and stage asteroids.” Since it’s a matter of realizing a fantasy, you might as well not quibble about the means: the opening scene, which was filmed, was designed like a movie from a Hollywood blockbuster to depict a field of asteroids hurtling through the interstellar void and represents an imminent threat.

Shepherd astronauts on a mission

We find the bunch of space rocks suspended above the plateau. Appearing in the lemon-yellow cockpit of a starship carved out of a large rock, a team worries about the fate of one such rock that has lost its ability to fly. The mission of the small group of astronaut shepherds is to give him a taste for space travel. We have fun with the wink Yellow submarine dear to the Beatles and the first instruction given to the crew: “Disable the fourth wall.”

As the action takes place on a theater stage, we are not surprised by the irruption of an actress in period costume improvising on the themes of German poetry, while the comic choreographies multiply and a wooden wrapping machine succeeds magnificently in enveloping the protagonists in its web like a giant spider wanted with its prey. Under magnificent skies that represent clusters of constellations lost in infinity, the rescue of the orphan rock that prefers the fate of a meteorite to that of an asteroid is a crazy tale, a lesson in empathy as joyful as it is irresistible.

Three times Philippe Quesne at the Festival d’Automne

After noisily refusing to continue his adventure in the direction of the Théâtre Nanterre-Amandiers, Philippe Quesne made this detour through the stars coincide with a strong comeback in the limelight. Recently appointed artistic director of the Ménagerie de Verre in Paris, following the death of its founding director, he succeeded Marie-Thérèse Allier to take over the reins of an institution which, between the walls of a parking lot, was transformed into a show. , gave their first chance to the cream of the representatives of modern creation.

Philippe Quesne’s work is also found rewarded by the Festival d’Automne in Paris with a mini-portrait that comes in three shows. Indignant cosmic drama, we can discover Phantasmagoria, an installation inhabited by mechanical pianos, ghosts and other ectoplasm, or his staging of the song of the earth by Gustav Mahler in a scenography inspired by German romantic painting under the musical direction of Emilio Pomàrico. With Philippe Quesne, everything is a matter of sensitivity and modesty… The subtle lightness of the fable of this stone that fell almost by accident on a theater stage can be read as a metaphor for the unfinished journey of this unique artist. low waves.

cosmic drama, design, direction and scenography Philippe Quesnein German, English and French with French subtitles, from 20 to 22 October, MC93, Bobigny.

Phantasmagoria, design, direction and scenography Philippe Quesnefrom 3 to 6 November, Center Pompidou, Paris.

The Song of the Earth (Das Lied von der Erde) by Gustav Mahler, musical direction Emilio Pomaricostaging and scenography Philippe QuesneNovember 9 and 10, Théâtre du Châtelet, Paris.

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