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Encounters

The Naked Heart / Our Hearts Stripped Bare

Interview with Marie-Eve Signeyrole — By Simon Hatab

On the bill at the Bastille Amphitheatre on January 24th and 25th, SeX’Y brings together several dozen participants, with electro music from the group Dear Criminals performing live for the occasion. Encounter with the director, Marie-Eve Signeyrole.

How was the SeX’Y project born?

Marie-Eve Signeyrole: We wanted to create a collaborative project with the Paris Opera Academy and a large number of non-professional performers – several dozen of them – born between 1978 and 2000, a generational music theatre production which would explore the sexuality – the sexualities – of the Y generation.

Why the Y generation?

The Y generation – the definition of which varies according to the observer, but which globally concerns the 25-35 age group – owes its name to the shape outlined on the torso by earbud cables connected to smart phones. This generation has grown up in a world where the sexual order has been shaken up – notably by the liberation movements of the seventies, to cite only the most recent: a world increasingly connected in which the opportunities to meet others have increased tenfold, the frontiers between different sexual identities are becoming more and more porous and in which fidelity is no longer an obligation and yet betrayal is not acceptable, and people commit themselves to relationships whilst seeking fulfillment as individuals… The Y generation is at the heart of this social revolution and must learn to construct its identity without guidance in a sometimes confusing universe where the contours are blurred. We asked ourselves what this generation could tell us about their relationships with love and sexuality.

SeX’Y en répétition, Amphithéâtre Bastille, 2018
SeX’Y en répétition, Amphithéâtre Bastille, 2018 © J’Adore Ce Que Vous Faites / OnP

How is the production constructed?

We held workshops on performance practice – theatre, singing, movement – over a twelve-month period. We quickly realized that it was this experience that made the project interesting: the pleasure of being together, exploring, confronting, testing, taming, breathing, watching and discovering each other. It was a matter of confronting the scrutiny and the proximity of others whilst accepting and taking on board the emotions such a confrontation generates: leaving the connected world behind for a while to reconnect with one’s own body and the bodies of others.
The subject was gigantic and we needed to find an appropriate angle from which to tackle it. We imagined that the action would take place one evening on earth, during which we ask the performers to take part in a common experiment, to give a performance in an anthropological, generational laboratory of love before the eyes of an audience also committed to the experiment and who would be asked to take part in the process. Besides their stories which we mixed up with our own, there were also the project’s “spin-offs”: after the workshops, many of the participants didn’t want to just go their separate ways. They established their own rituals (going and eating falafel, karaoke evenings…) Some of them became friends, others fell in love, yet others split up. Of course, this is something they created themselves and which escaped us completely – it was all their own. But ultimately, the project was still nurtured by all those collateral stories. In the show, we exploit this frontier between fact and fiction, between fantasy and reality.

The production is accompanied by the Canadian group Dear Criminals who composed more than fifteen songs for the occasion…

When I work on a music theatre production, I try always to find the live music that is most equal to the task of expressing the production’s objectives. Dear Criminals were the obvious choice, because of the nostalgia that emanates from their compositions: melodies haunted by death; their somber, fragile universe, in which love is often painful and disturbing. There are two musicians – Charles and Frannie – who produce their texts by each writing individually before coordinating them to resonate together. It’s not so much a duet as a meeting of two solitary individuals, orchestrated by the intelligence and sensitivity of a third musician – Vincent. This three-some has generated an organic and physical sound. For the production, we asked them to base their work on Baroque music. The Baroque repertoire interested us because it is the fruit of a period in which feelings were often betrayed, love was expressed indirectly and art served as a refuge for illicit love, as a way of skilfully subverting the moral order.

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