Nina Simone carries within her 4 centuries of history.
Nina Simone’s life was full of drama, 70 years of epic ups and downs ending in desolation.
Her story speaks of both a passionate quest for recognition and a vital political struggle that still resonates today.
Tragic figure of revolt, Nina Simone is perhaps too iconic to allow us to get close to her, and it may well be impossible to represent this tragic figure of revolt on the stage.
It is a risky gamble to ask someone to perform a version of Nina Simone and sing like her: the result will necessarily be pale in comparison with the original. Yet, there is something extraordinarily compelling about this challenge.
Nina Simone was also a direct representative of a major strand of US history: as the great great grand-daughter of a Native American married to an African slave, she carried within her four centuries of colonial history.
In telling her story accompanied by an Afro American and Franco European team, I also aim to evoke the murderous conquest of the Americas by various Western empires (Spanish, Portuguese, English, Dutch, and French) beginning in the 15th century, and in doing so, to look at part of the history of Afro-Americans.
The story of this woman will lead me to present the moment Christopher Columbus touched land in the Bahamas, the massacre of Chief Skyuka and his entire tribe in what is now North Carolina, and the story of the four million African Americans who were enslaved, in order to question this part of our shared Western heritage.
The goal will be to bring to life in a fiction inspired by History with a capital “H” what inhabits Nina Simone, those who accompanied her during her whole life, and her ghosts, like different facets of a stone that can never be embraced in a single glance.
The project will examine and attempt to show and make felt what can be silenced by fear. How the fear of being destroyed because you are who you are leaves indelible scars on the bodies and minds of those subjected to it, and which are passed from one generation to the next.
As Europeans, as Westerners, we are the heirs to these wounds, inflicted and suffered. Whether victims or perpetrators, our stories are the fruit of the disruptions caused by the development of the empires that would later become Europe on the inhabited lands of the Americas beginning in the 15th century.
How do we make a shared narrative? What legitimacy can we claim to do so?
Produced by Compagnie Lieux-dits
Coproduced by Théâtre de Lorient, centre dramatique national, Le Canal – Théâtre du Pays de Redon, Théâtre National de Bretagne – Rennes, ThéâtredelaCité – CDN Toulouse Occitanie, Théâtre d’Arles, scène conventionnée d’intérêt national – art et création, Théâtre de la Bastille, Espaces Pluriels, Scène conventionnée danse – Pau, L’empreinte scène nationale Brive / Tulle, Théâtre Le Rayon Vert, Scène conventionnée d’intérêt national – art en territoire de Saint-Valéry-en-Caux, Le Gallia Théâtre, scène conventionnée d’intérêt national – art et création de Saintes, La Comédie de Reims – Centre Dramatique National, Théâtre des Quatre saisons, Gradignan, Théâtre de Choisy-le-Roi – Scène conventionnée d’Intérêt national – Art et création pour la diversité linguistique en coopération avec PANTHEA, La Rose des Vents, Scène nationale Lille Métropole Villeneuve d’Ascq, CDN Besançon Franche-Comté, Théâtre de Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines Scène nationale, Teatro Nacional Dona Maria II, Lisbon, Portugal
With the help of the ministère de la Culture, Région Île-de-France, Spedidam, the french Institute within the frame of its program Théâtre Export, FACE Foundation Contemporary Theater, the Harlem Stage – New York – United States
Thanks to Théâtre Ouvert – Centre national des Dramaturgies Contemporaines, La Chartreuse de Villeneuve-Lès-Avignon – centre national des écritures du spectacle and Théâtre de l’Aquarium
Residencies at CDN de Normandie-Rouen
Compagnie Lieux-dits is accredited by the ministère de la Culture – DRAC Île-de-France
The text Silence and Fear is published by Lieux-dits publishing