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Theater. On the consciousness and the subconscious of the working class

Son of a worker and a housekeeper from Reims, Didier Eribon is a university professor. His work is internationally recognized. Alone of his brothers and sisters to read Sartre and Marx under the gaze of his family, who already judged he was betraying, he became an intellectual because it was going to the end of solitude, at the end of the betrayal that was also his homosexuality, this radical break with the family.

"What matters is not what we have done, but what we do ourselves about what we have done with us. The young man had first authorized this sentence of Sartre to accomplish a "complete re-education of oneself". Having become the noted biographer of Michel Foucault, this second capital influence encourages him to develop an original, sociological, philosophical reflection on the gay identity he had built for himself.

For a long time he did not return to Reims. And then, his father with Alzheimer's disease is hospitalized. The professor questions his anguish of death in Retour à Reims, this autobiographical story very distanced and analytical published in 2008: this imaginary threat that hangs over him is the one that really weighs on the life expectancy of his family, the violence of dominant which mutilates the body of the dominated. Why have privileged the questioning of sexual identity and overshadowed the social question – and the amputation that was tearing away from his original social environment?

Stories become geographies

In 2016, Thomas Ostermeier, actor and director of the Berliner Ensemble founded by Brecht, is upset by Retour à Reims: he was born in Southern Bavaria, in a popular milieu. His adaptation, presented at the Théâtre de la Ville, puts in mise en scene its staging: an actress, Irene Jacob, records the text in the studio under the direction of Cédric Eeckhout. Above them, a film shows us Reims: Didier Eribon looks at pictures that his mother shows him.

The bodies of the actors led by Ostermeier say this: there is only one human species and social racism is like misogyny and homophobia, a more accepted variant of racism altogether. Class difference as ethnic difference are just stories that have become geographies. Places, customs, the division of labor and the social distinction attribute to each, according to their sex, agreed roles, transforming "cultural" constraints into ways of being internalized. These constraints are the raw material of the theater, those that the actor Ostermeier kneaded to build the character, those that, director, Ostermeier deconstructed to discover something else, raw flesh under the make-up. Without violence, by play, as children play, actors strip themselves before our eyes of the defensive and offensive carapaces of social representations.

Another of his stagings is presented these days at the Comédie-Française, sold out as the show has a deserved success: the Night of the Kings, Shakespeare. The sexual difference is questioned there to be laughed in an exact fidelity to the Baroque Shakespearean: arise in the improvised interludes yellow vests of the adjacent streets. They stormed the Champs-Elysees, and Irene Jacob, in her beautiful deep voice, continued her reading: why did the popular classes allow themselves to be tempted by the vote of the extreme right?

Annoyed, she stops and protests: it is a caricature to present the yellow vests as fascists! In my audience chair, I think: it is a caricature to suggest that it is the former constituents of the PC who vote today RN. The left has always been a minority, except in 1981, among the workers, it is the vote on the right that collapsed. Only a minority of former left-wing voters have deferred their anger over the RN vote, most abstain.

Suddenly, the following week, the director (C. Eeckhout / Ostermeier) filmed other images: the left abandoning in 1983 the popular classes, the class struggle, anti-capitalism. Upset, the taker of his fate from his cabin. Blade Mc Alimbaye rappe, it is to him that belongs the studio on the stage: this story is his, to him, who is asked to "integrate", while his grandfather, tirailleur Senegalese, is a survivor of the French army who sent him to be killed in the front line. How to unravel together the poisoned tunic of domination?


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