From Trappes comes improvisation and the Culture and Diversity Trophy to the Comédie-Française

Improvisation on stage in the Salle Richelieu that had never happened before. But the idea would certainly have enchanted Molière, who is considered one of the first improvisers. If he had to choose a performance from the program, my little finger tells me that he would have chosen this day, which is most true to his art and his gesture.”predicts Erik Ruffgeneral administrator for French comedy. Whose “chief” of French comedy was unable to grace the final of the Culture and Diversity Trophy with his presence, many were guests of Feel to have taken the step. Wandering between the seats on the floor, Jack Lang who never refuses a selfie or the discreet culture minister Rima Abdul Malak together with Brigitte Macron, comfortably seated in the armchairs on the balcony.

Since 2010, Trophy has given young university students from priority areas or rural areas the opportunity to discover theatrical improvisation. It was only twelve years later, on the occasion of the 400th anniversary of Molière’s birth, that classical theater and improvisation met at the Comédie-Française. A historic moment for all those who put on joggers to exercise (…). It is also a historic moment for the Comédie-Française, for the actors and actresses of this theatre classic”, appreciated with emotion Mélanie Le Moine, mistress of ceremonies.

On the occasion of this collaboration, the Comédie-Française has established a cultural agreement with the town of Trappes. A whole age group will come to comedy, and comedy will go to Trappes”, launches Eric Ruff, general administrator of the institution. A milestone in the history of this discipline, long neglected and now sheltered under the dome of the Palais-Royal.

Usually installed in refectories and other gymnasiums, the ice rink was established under the pendants and gilding of the Richelieu room. In the middle of the stage, two teams of university students dressed in hockey jerseys with their names waiting patiently on either side of the white square. Next to them, their respective coach, pen and paper in hand, hangs on the referee’s lips. A true caricature of the ice hockey referee, Nour El Yakinn Louiz enters the stage with closed face to the boos of the public. Tonight he is the bad guy and he makes it clear from the first moment.

Using colored cardboard on both sides, the public votes for the team that convinced them.  (NISRINE MANAI / FRANCEINFO CULTURE)

Accompanied by two other judges, he oversees the reporting of various mistakes and sets themes and instructions for each improvisation. Ranging from 30 seconds to two minutes, in mixed form (the two teams play together) or compared (each passing in turn), the capsules follow one another: “Hide this wine that I cannot see”, “A badger on the branch road”, “A Breton Palace for the Sultan” orA holster at sea”. Young people are sometimes obliged to sing, mime, or even act in the manner of Molière, a new category added this year to celebrate the playwright’s 400 years.

Budding improvisers on the rink for the Culture and Diversity Trophy final, June 24, 2022. (NISRINE MANAI / FRANCEINFO CULTURE)

As soon as the instructions are given, the two opposing teams consult about their coach. Twenty seconds later, here they are launching while the public is still digesting what was just said. At each mistake, the referee whistles and names the mistake through a very precise gesture that is completely incomprehensible to us. On the ice rink, university students impress with their ease and solidarity. Difficult to choose between the red and white side of the card to vote for one of the two teams. A well-placed drop or replica is enough to convince and resonate the laughter of the public to the ceiling of the Salle Richelieu. Sometimes to the chagrin of the judge, on the verge of tearing their hair off, when one of them talks about “changing room” or that someone else climbs aboard a rocket during an improvisation in the manner of Molière.

“It’s huge, I didn’t see myself getting there”. well that she has been preparing for this visit since October, Emma from the team Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes in the final that night I still can’t believe it. Initially, they were sent between three teams from different high schools. For several months, budding improvisers were followed by a coach responsible for ensuring their preparation. They only have 30 hours, and that is very little time to assimilate the rules and prepare the categories in the manner of Molière.” would like to remind the coach, Pierre-Antoine Gag of CEO&Cie – Savoy Improv League. Separated from about fifty kilometer it each other, they finally met during the regional match where the qualified college students would take to the rink in the Richelieu Hall.Thanks to the coach, we were able to learn so many things about Molière that we didn’t see in class.” says Emma, ​​taking as an example the importance of the masks to the playwright, information unknown to her until now.

Master of ceremonies Stéphane Guillet and Éléonore de Lacharrière, general delegate of the Culture and Diversity Foundation, on stage in the Salle Richelieu to announce the ranking of the teams, June 24, 2022. (NISRINE MANAI / FRANCEINFO CULTURE)

In addition to cultural enrichment, this system also forces young people to find themselves in positions they are not used to occupying. It is precisely this difficulty that would provoke a self-discovery. “At that time I was a shy child and I exploded on stage thanks to improvisation. I thought that was fantastic!” remember david Herring Degreecoach and founder of the company The PDG League Savoy improvisation. At school level, the actor remembers seeing his grades take off after his integration into the French improv team. “When I was contacted to take part in the Culture and Diversity Trophy, I immediately agreed because I know what it can bring for these young people and for the future adults they will become. Without it, I don’t know what I want to be today”he tells us with emotion in front of the young squad.

It is for this reason that the coach decided to take the youngster under his wing. Yousstoin 13 years old. I hesitated with another student and we thought it would hang Yousstoine in school and we see it, it works! to cheers the coach. Before I had my hands in my pockets, I was stuck. And now I can express myself!” confirmed the schoolboy before walking back on stage for the finale.

In the front row, Judge Nour he sure Louis have seen children who Yousstoin. The first ones he met were in Trappes. It was in the small community hall, Jean-Baptiste Clément, installed in the middle of the city, that he refereed his first improvisation match. For 22 years, the one who begins to roll his bump in the middle, never imagined playing his flute on the stage of the Comédie-Française. “It’s incredible. It is the first time that something other than Comédie-Française shows has happened at the Comédie-Française”, emphasizes the comedian with salt and pepper curls over a laugh.

To proudly wear the colors of the bastion of improv this Friday night, he is accompanied by Amel amzianemember of the same squad Declictheatre and coach for the triumphant team Ile-de-France, Grandpa Alain said Degois large figure of improvisation in Trappes, now director and artistic director of the Culture and Diversity trophy, or even Jamel Debbouze, his former acting partner.

Jamel Debbouze, looks at the Minister of Culture.  At his side, the actress Mélanie Le Moine, Marc Ladreit de Lacharrière, the founder of the Culture and Diversity Foundation and Eric Ruff, general administrator of the Comédie-Française.  (NISRINE MANAI / FRANCEINFO CULTURE)

That night, the comedian is moved at the microphone. It warms my heart because it is thanks to this discipline that I was able to express myself and feel worthy”he slips onto the stage at the end of the evening. The gaze turned to Culture Minister Rima Abdul Malak and Brigitte Macron, he skilfully slips in: “Hope improvisation can reach national education”. It remains to be seen whether the discipline will find its place after the Palais-Royal in the timetables

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