THE U.S. KOLTÈS PROJECT A Ten-Year Commissioning and Development Project Based on six plays by Bernard-Marie Koltès
Courtesy of Eliza Ruiz
In 2001, Atlanta’s 7 Stages produced Black Battles with Dogs (Combat de negre et de chiens), by Bernard-Marie Koltès, directed by Arthur Nauzyciel.The performance was subsequently invited to Lorient, France and eventually to several theatres in Europe, the prestigious Festival d’Avignon and elsewhere. Excitingly, this prompted extremely favorable critical and audience responses and encouraged an interest in the plays of Koltès among the artists at 7 Stages.
In 2006, Isma`il ibn Conner, one of the principal actors in this production and an Artistic Associate at 7 Stages, engaged with François Koltès, the author’s surviving brother who also manages matters connected to the Koltès plays.François responded very positively to the U.S. production and agreed to pursue new translations of other plays by his brother.
Mr. Conner and François Koltès agreed that new American translations of six Koltès plays should be developed and produced at 7 Stages. Over a ten-year period, these six Koltès plays will be translated into what one may call American English while working with François Koltès to translate accurately while adhering to Koltès’ singular writing style. Each play will then be developed under the careful guidance of 7 Stages, which has considerable experience developing new work. Finally, each play will be premiered in Atlanta approximately every other year between 2008 – 2016. The project has now grown to include not just the translations of six Koltès plays and premieres at 7 Stages, but also an Emory University/7 Stages artistic residency, tours to American and French theatres, publications of the translations, a documentary of the U.S. KOLTÈS PROJECT, as well as French research and development residencies. With this support from Francois Koltès, 7 Stages intends to become the American home of Koltès’ works.
This project was created out of the desire to intensify the already rich relationship between French and American artists with the following plays: Dans la solitude des champs de coton (In the Solitude of Cottonfields, dir. Eric Vigner, 2008), Le Jour des meurtres dans l’histoire d’Hamlet(The Day of Murders in the History of Hamlet, dir. Thierry de Peretti, 2010), Sallinger(Salinger, directed by le CDN d'Orléans Artistic Director, Arthur Nauzyciel, 2012), La Nuit juste avant les forets(The Night just befre the Forests, 2014), Tabataba (Tabataba, dir. Philip Boulay, 2014) andQuai Ouest(Key West, 2016). These six plays all speak of intense isolation, fear of the 'Other', deal-making, senseless war, misplaced national loyalty, and dysfunctional familial love/hate.
7 Stages Theatre’s, Artistic Associate, Ismail ibn Conner, has been awarded a three-month Artistic Residency, to continue translation and acting work on A Day of Murders in the History of Hamlet, by Bernard-Marie Kolès, the second play in the U.S. Koltès Project. This residency is for July-September, 2009.
The City Hall of Paris and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs offer a residents' program at Récollets International Accomodation and Exchange Center, a prestigious building inaugurated in 2003, on the banks of Saint Martin Canal, in the heart of Paris, to foreign artists specialized in any discipline.
BLACK BATTLES WITH DOGS gets reprise in Belgium, January 2009
Black Battles with Dogs, by Bernard-Marie Koltès, directed and adapted by Arthur Nauzyciel, will be performed in Antwerp, Belgium at deSingel International Arts Campus, January 2009.
Black Battles with Dogs is described by deSingel International Arts Campus as the following: "Art in the age of globalisation! This is a story, written by a French author who died at an early age, about a racial issue in Africa, performed by American actors from Atlanta and directed by a young French director. 'The curse of the negro race comes from God, but the curse of the white race comes from the black man, who will for ever be God's chosen one because God once cursed him.' The French writer Bernard-Marie Koltès mentions this quotation by William Faulkner in a letter he wrote to a friend when he was visiting New York in 1983. He is passionate about America and its socially critical literature. Four years previously, he had written 'Combat de nègre et de chiens', a story set on a French building site in Africa. When the body of a black worker disappears, it changes the lives of four of the characters. The French director Arthur Nauzyciel was a pupil of Antoine Vitez at the Chaillot school of drama until Vitez' death in 1989. After he had worked for ten years under various directors he gradually took his first steps as a director. Black Battles with Dogs breathes the stifling atmosphere of the southern United States. And reminds us of the racial segregation that existed there in a not too distant past."
Black Battles with Dogs has been performed in France (Lorient, Clermont-Ferrand, Creteil, Festival d'Avignon), Greece, and in the United States (Atlanta and Chicago), featuring four Atlanta actors (Janice Akers, Daniel Pettrow, Del Hamilton (Tim McDonough later replacing Mr. Hamilton), and directed by rising French star, Arthur Nauzyciel.
The US. Koltès Project is made possible through support from François Koltès, CDDB – Théâtre de Lorient, Cultural Services at the Consulate General of France in Atlanta, Cultural Services of the Embassy of France in New York, CulturesFrance, Festival d'Avignon, Alliance Francais in Atlanta and French Institute – Alliance Française in New York.
Special support has been provided by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Etant donnés: The French-American Fund for the performing arts, a program of FACE, the Centre National des Ecritures du Spectacle at La Chartreuse.
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