1 December 2023

Ariane Mnouchkine, director of the Théâtre du Soleil, took off. Direction Kyiv. Part of his troop remained in Paris to welcome Dance of Death, a Ukrainian show proposed by Vladislav Troïtskyi and the group Dakh Daughters. A footbridge has just been erected from country to country. The French director directs a theater course (the Nomade School) in a capital under tension while the actresses of Dakh Daughters sing in the Bois de Vincennes about their lives turned upside down by the Russian aggressor.

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This geographic permutation is highly symbolic. It allows art to unfold beyond borders. Vladimir Poutine “will not prevent artists from going to join their comrades where they are”, says Ariane Mnouchkine, joined to kyiv. To the cultural war waged by the President of the Russian Federation, this same culture responds by refusing to desert its legitimate territories. She occupies the stages, crucibles of utopias and imaginations.

In the Ukrainian city where, since March 23, a hundred student actors and young professionals have converged, the troupe du Soleil has invested “a kind of little opera with a rounded hearth”. The actors stretched out colored fabrics, collected here and there tables, chairs, accessories and they got to work. For their boss, acting was obvious: “I couldn’t stand it any longer, arms dangling, listening to the news. Raising money for Ukraine was no longer enough. We were all in a state of helplessness, frustration and desolation. About a month ago, I proposed to the team to come and do, on site, what we know how to do: a nomadic school. »

During a nomadic school session in kyiv on March 23.

“The Weight of a Feather”

His tribe is used to the exercise. The School has already sailed as far as Chile, the United Kingdom, Sweden and India. In 2005, an Afghan company (the Aftaab Theater) was even born in the wake of a session held in Kabul. But the stay in kyiv, in the heart of a country beset by bombs, is out of the ordinary. “We are not on the front line and I am not going, at my age, 84, to learn how to handle a gun to become a soldier, relativizes our interlocutor. Many other people are acting here without anyone knowing. » The presence of the Sun (and through it that of art) weighs, she says, “the weight of a feather”. But this feather is used to write and it helps to think. To be there, the artist recalls, is the “ba-ba of resistance”.

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For fifteen days, the participants of the Nomadic School will live to the rhythm of improvisations, choirs and masks: “If we manage to give them two weeks of celebration and delight, that will already be it. » In a speech delivered on February 24 at a Europe-Ukraine Forum, Ariane Mnouckhine concluded her speech with this sharp appeal: “To win this culture war that Russia is waging against us, you must first win the war. All short. Whether we like it or not. »

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