An interview with Nicolas Lambert, author and performer of
This interview, originally published in French in Avenir Radieux: Une Fission Française is published here as a “fair use” excerpt for research and public education, and as a sample for publishers who may be interested in obtaining rights for the English translation of the book discussed in the interview. This material is not for commercial use without permission of the publisher. For citation and publishing inquiries:
Nicolas Lambert, Avenir Radieux: Une Fission Française (Éditions L’Échappée, Paris, 2012)
But a word about this “being alone on the stage.” It wasn’t really a choice as much as a necessity. I had no way to do it otherwise. Putting on a piece of theater requires money. You have to pay the actors, the technicians. It’s an actual business enterprise. When I created Elf, the Pump of Africa, I didn’t have a cent. And this type of subject doesn’t captivate the people who subsidize the arts.
The simplest solution was to do everything myself. I told myself, “Let’s see if I can get by with a shoestring budget and manage everything myself.” That meant tackling the subject, research, direction, promotion, sales, lighting, stage management etc.
But because I was told that I’m doing something similar to the work of Philippe Caubère, that I was using a “grammar of performance” similar to his, I finally went to see one of his shows. It is true that he is fascinating. What a great actor! And what a great use of space. The man is a dancer.
This is how I try to reach as much of the public as possible. And above all, I don’t convey nonsense. For Elf, the Pump of Africa, I went to the Elf trials, which lasted four months, from March to July 2003, three days per week. I hardly missed a single day. In the beginning, I was thinking about making a fictional-documentary, in the form of a radio show, as part of the project Ephemeral Frequencies started by Antoine Chao. Because recording devices are not allowed in court, I wanted to take notes and then turn them into a script for radio. This is when I got the idea of doing it on stage.
I want to stress that we sometimes receive some impressive political texts. There have been even more in the last four or five years (unfortunately, the cultural system doesn’t necessarily give much funding to these texts). This makes me believe that things are starting to shift.
We always prefer to believe that the worst will not happen. And we prefer to hypnotize ourselves by what we say among each other because we don’t want to tell ourselves, for example, that the nuclear power plant at Nogent is 80 kilometers from Paris and we couldn’t evacuate the region in the event of a serious problem. Everyone tries to accommodate himself to this reality.