1914. Eugène, as arrogant as he is handsome, departs for the front as a volunteer.
1916. He is wounded at Verdun and loses half of his face. There follows a descent into hell – how can one continue to live when the mirror shows what used to be there and has gone forever?
In hospital in Val-de-Grâce, Eugène will meet the architects of his new life and follow in the footsteps, or rather the shadow, of one Cyrano de Bergerac.
Broken faces: from death to life
This text arose out of the 1917 exhibition at the Pompidou Centre in Metz, where casts of the disfigured faces of servicemen were displayed alongside art from the same period. This juxtaposition raised the question of the link between masks of war and theatrical masks: when Eugène wears the nose modelled for him by Dr Morestin, it is a prosthesis; when he wears the nose of Cyrano de Bergerac, it is a mask.
Accompanying this exploration is the question of identity. The Great War ravaged all in its path, both the landscape and the bodies of men, and engendered a new category of wounded – the Broken Faces. More than the loss of an arm or a leg, the damage to this mask confronted the victims with a dismantling of their personality. In spite of the progress in medical treatment, how do you recognise the self in something that another person has constructed?
This was the torment faced by Eugène at Val-de-Grâce. And it was the connection with theatrical masks that helped him to survive. Thanks to the theatre, to Cyrano de Bergerac and the perseverance of Sarah Bernhardt, he came to discover another dimension to himself and his surroundings beyond the immediate. Beyond the masks, in “the glowing fire of all passions dreamed of or lived.” And it was here that he could become a “vibrant being”.
Through simple moments of life, sometimes desperate, sometimes happy, Les vibrants takes the viewer on a voyage around the complexities of the human spirit – haunted by the butchery of the Great War, the subjects struggle with their own demons while offering us a wonderful lesson in life and hope.
This event is part of the programme for the 10th edition of Rencontres de Verdun organised by the Meuse Department Historical Commission.
Download the program “Rencontres de Verdun”
Duration: 1 hour 30 mins
Press Club Award – Avignon 2014
Adami Theatre Prize 2016
Text: Aïda Asgharzadeh
Director: Quentin Defalt
With Aïda Asgharzadeh, Benjamin Brenière, Matthieu Hornuss, Amélie Manet
Set design: Natacha Le Guen de Kerneizon
Lighting: Manuel Desfeux
Costume: Marion Rebmann
Music: Stéphane Corbin
Sound: Ludovic Champagne
Artistic collaboration: Damir Žiško
Masks: Chloé Cassagnes
Co-production: Maison du Théâtre et de la Danse Épinay-sur-Seine
Free entry. Limited places.
Booking recommended using the form here.