“Theatres”: a stage for the reconciliation of Marseille and Aix-en-Provence

This Wednesday evening in September, the Comédie-Française is expected at the factory. Or, more precisely, in the hall Friche la Belle de Mai, the symbolic third place of Marseille, where 240 spectators are located on either side of the stage, which has become a repository on the occasion of the first Marseille performance of 7. minutes. Stefano Massini’s performance staged last autumn in Paris directed by Maelle Poesy was staged in Marseille for six concerts, with the participation of seven participants or residents of France, joined by four more actresses.

New experience “outside the walls”

“Performing this performance in this place is reminiscent of Marseille in its protest side,” says Dominique Blues, director of the Aixo-Marseilles ensemble Les Théâtres, which brings together the Théâtre du Gimnase, the Jeu de Paume, the Grand Théâtre de Provence and the Théâtre de Bernardines. “If the first of these places hadn’t been closed for work, it would undoubtedly host the event,” admits the one who made up this pole between 1993 and 2015.

But that would mean depriving ourselves of the resonance between Frische’s worker background, where the cigar makers of the Tobacco Factory formed a union in 1887, and this caucus, in which eleven textile factory workers confront the Cornelian dilemma of accepting or rejecting the new bosses’ proposal to shorten their daily break by seven minutes. in exchange for job security. It would also mean depriving yourself of new experiences “outside the walls”, since Les Théâtres organizes the “Aller vers” operation from 2021, in which the performing arts travels to cafes, churches, schools. and building courtyards in the towns and villages of Bouches-du-Rhone.

Like a hyphen between two cities

“My adventure could have started because theater was not a political issue at the time,” analyzes Dominique Bluese. “In a few years, thanks to their interweaving, we have turned four provincial structures into a national body capable of negotiating with the largest institutions.” , he rejoices, proud of the prestigious opening of the 2022-2023 season. In addition to the Comédie-Française, theaters also received 55 dancers from the Paris Opera for five performances at the end of September. The trip is part of a partnership agreement signed for three years, which allows the development of projects on the scale of the metropolis of Aix-Marseille. “We even set it on fire!” the director rejoices.

For the Biennale of Arts and Culture in Aix-en-Provence, Les Théâtres actually invited the Carabosse troupe to set fire to the path of thousands of fire pots that connects the Jets-de-Paume with the Grand Theater of Provence. Nearly a decade earlier, the same company lit up the Vieux Port for Marseille-Provence 2013. A path of flame, like a hyphen, between these two cities, sisters and rivals that Les Theaters seek to bring together despite mutual distrust.

“If today the economic dynamism is rather Marseilles, then excellence and security are more associated with Aix. But these two cities need each other, because the first is in danger of being downgraded, and the second is in danger of being turned into a museum,” says Dominique Bluese, who invites you to “get out of fantasy”. “There’s something about the cultural appeal we’re fighting for that Blanche’s character talks about in 7 minutes: it’s a matter of dignity. This territory has the right to look decent, not caricatured.”

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