French theatre presents : The state of siege

November 15–18 at 7:30 p.m., NAC Babs Asper Theatre

English surtitles: Friday, November 17

OTTAWA, November 1, 2017 – As part of their North American tour, the renowned Théâtre de la Ville de Paris company comes to the National Arts Centre for an exclusive Canadian engagement of four performances only (including one with English surtitles, on Friday, November 17).

Albert Camus’ stated purpose was “to make our murmuring stages resound with loud cries that have the power to subdue or to free crowds of people,” and that is exactly what director Emmanuel Demarcy‑Mota sets out to do in this dark, post-apocalyptic production, a powerful allegory that pits the spirit of defiance against a corrupt authoritarian regime. Intimate scenes and mass movements, whispers and choral outcries overlap and collide on a vast set with metallic accents, ablaze with video projections, a nod to the giant, inescapable telescreens of George Orwell’s 1984.

“At once an echo of the past and a warning for the future, L’État de siège aims to avert mistakes. Theatre can play a crucial role in thwarting the tendency to erect barriers, to separate people instead of creating opportunities for dialogue.
Because it brings together two groups of individuals, face to face,
and from this living encounter, it conjures up the agonies of the human existence
even as, like L’État de siège, it points the way to a kind of hope.”

Emmanuel Demarcy-Mota, interview in JEU, revue de théâtre


A theatre company is rehearsing in a peaceful seaside town when one of the actors suddenly collapses: he has the plague. The governor declares a state of siege, and instantly a relentless wave of regulations, checks and persecutions begins to spread terror among the citizens … until Diego, with the boldness of youth, organizes an uprising in the name of freedom. Performed by a powerful chorus of members of the Théâtre de la Ville, Paris, this ambitious staging by Emmanuel Demarcy‑Mota ignites the fiery spirit of resistance.


Written by Albert Camus // Directed by Emmanuel Demarcy‑Mota // With Serge Maggiani, Hugues Quester, Alain Libolt, Valérie Dashwood, Matthieu Dessertine, Hannah Levin Seiderman, Jauris Casanova, Philippe Demarle, Sandra Faure, Sarah Karbasnikoff, Gérald Maillet, Walter N’Guyen, Pascal Vuillemot and special appearances by Victor Dubé‑Marcus and Arnaud Forget (alternately) // Assistant director: Christophe Lemaire // Set design: Yves Collet // Lighting: Yves Collet and Christophe Lemaire // Costumes: Fanny Brouste // Sound: David Lesser // Video: Mike Guermyet // Masks: Anne Leray // Makeup: Catherine Nicolas // Props: Griet De Vis

Produced by Théâtre de la Ville (Paris) // Coproduced by Les Théâtres de la Ville de Luxembourg, Théâtre national de Bretagne (Rennes) and BAM (Brooklyn Academy of Music–New York), with artistic input from the Jeune théâtre national (Paris) and support from the French Institute and the city of Paris.


On Wednesday, November 15, take a few minutes before or after the performance to browse the books on display at the Librairie du Soleil sales counter set up just outside the Babs Asper Theatre. Throughout the year, the counter will feature a selection of works related to the plays in the French Theatre season.



Tuesday, November 14 from 7 to 9 p.m. – NAC Fourth Stage (cash bar)

Screening of the film 1984, directed by Michael Radford, based on George Orwell’s famous novel published in 1948, the same year L’État de siège was written. A scathing indictment of political domination and totalitarianism, 1984 portrays many of the dangers of contemporary politics, including the rise of surveillance technology embodied by Big Brother.

Original English version with French subtitles.


Wednesday, November 15 from 6 to 7 p.m. – NAC Glass Thorsteinson Staircase

Penser l’état d’urgence : terreur et angoisse dans la politique contemporaine, a round table led by Jonathan Lorange, PhD in political science, with Julie Paquette, professor at Saint Paul University’s School of Public Ethics, and Dalie Giroux, professor at the University of Ottawa’s School of Political Studies.

These activities are made possible with the support of the Embassy of France in Canada.

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