Installed in a green setting between the town hall, the church and the village hall, a wooden stage and a nicely decorated bar offer an intimate atmosphere. That evening, the Regional Theater of Pays de la Loire (TRPL) played in front of a hundred people in Soulaines-sur-Aubance, a town of 1,400 inhabitants in Maine-et-Loire, before folding up its trestles, in stride. , to reach another destination.
As part of its eighteenth “village tour”, this theater company travels through the rural towns of the region for around fifty performances of three different plays*. While France has clearly progressed in terms of cultural facilities in the countryside, it has not yet finished with territorial inequalities. A 2019 Senate report recalls that it continues to concentrate places for the creation and dissemination of live performances (theater, concert halls, etc.) in Île-de-France and in major urban centers.
Play with the elements
“It’s great when culture comes to us, greets Séverine, 48, who simply went down the street to attend this outdoor show with her 14-year-old daughter. There’s not a single shop here, except for a bakery open twice a week…” On the program for the evening, a contemporary piece by Tiago Rodrigues, the current director of the Festival d’Avignon. Sadness and joy in the life of giraffes, written in 2012, features a 9-year-old girl whose father has just lost his job, in the midst of the Portuguese economic crisis. To finance their subscription to cable television, she goes on an adventure in the company of her teddy bear, double of herself with exacerbated emotions, and crosses a gallery of characters not always well intentioned.
An initiatory story that “still resonates today, because crises always crush the weakest”, comments Camille de La Guillonnière, 38, actor, director and director of the TRLP. If this initiative is currently supported by local associations and elected officials, it owes its success first and foremost to its stubbornness. “We started with three francs six under in front of a dozen spectators, says this native of Anjou, who played under the direction of Jean Bellorini or Macha Makeïeff, famous French playwrights. You had to have faith to come back the following year! »
The programming of the “village tour” alternates classic and contemporary texts, with the desire to give the acting a particular color, shaped by the vagaries of the outdoors. “On this stage without walls, you have to play with the elements, confides comedian Damien Vigouroux, 38, embarked on the adventure since 2018. You have to speak even louder and be very clear in your emotions because everything is more diluted. »
The rain and the vagaries of the sky sometimes force you to adapt. “After a violent storm, we took refuge in a school and we reinvented The cherry orchard of Chekhov in an empty class while passing in the middle of the spectators, remembers Camille de La Guillonnière. When the text is good, there is no need for anything else…”
Close to the public
In Soulaines-sur-Aubance, the weather was mild. But we had to deal with the chirping of birds, the roaring cars and the ballet of bats at nightfall. “The relationship with the spectators is so strong that we are even more aware of the scope of the words we play,” he says. This requirement is a hit with the public, 80% of whom are regulars who follow the summer troupe in summer. Like Céline, 48, seduced by “the magic of listening to texts in such a setting”. Aminata, a 16-year-old high school student in the theater section, had already seen this play by Tiago Rodrigues in a classical hall. “But this is much more colorful and accessible,” she smiles. For Jean-Yves, 69, sitting on a sofa on the grass, this kind of experience should be multiplied. “Culture creates a bond and that’s what we need today. The TRPL, which launched its first winter tour last year, hopes to roll out its “decentralization” actions throughout the year.
*Until August 12. Information: trpl.fr