Fanny de Chaillé Le Groupe

[Theatre]

“In fact, people are fed up with hearing others speak. They have a profound distaste for words. For words get in the way of things.” In 1902, Hugo von Hofmannsthal wrote The Letter of Lord Chandos, a shocking and desperate piece of writing, referred to in history as “the Hofmannsthal crisis” due to its description of the poet’s acute solitude. In many respects, this intimate confession, or funeral speech on the futility and impossibility of words, reads like a letter of resignation. In effect, that same day the so-called “Viennese Rimbaud” decided to give up poetry in favour of theatre.

He sought to replace contemplation by action, and to allow the body to speak for itself. From a young age, Fanny de Chaillé read and was intrigued by these and others of Hofmannsthal’s thoughts. This was prior to her university research into sound poetry, collaborative projects with Alain Buffard and Gwenaël Morin, and well before her inventive performances based on rock music, Georges Perec and translation software. However, Le Groupe is a far cry from a lyrical, solitary rendering of the aforementioned Letter to Lord Chandos. Instead, and as a direct follow-up to Gonzo conférence (2007) or Je suis un metteur en scène japonais (2011), she gathers onstage four performers and in order to devise a series of incongruous, playful theatre principles. This might include, for example, the dividing up of the body, voice, breathing, and punctuation before assigning them to several actors, or the familiar dissecting of the text, as though it were a musical score... Her aim is, via the invention of linguistic delirium, Oulipian constructions and highly improbable constraints, to give our words a second hearing through the medium of theatre.