Silence and fear [2020]

Creation on January, 14th 2020 at Théâtre de Lorient.


Written and directed by David Geselson
Performed by Dee Beasnael, Craig Blake, Laure Mathis, Elios Noël, Kim Sullivan
Stage design Lisa Navarro assisted by Margaux Nessi
Lighting Jérémie Papin assisted by Marine Le Vey
Video projection Jérémie Scheidler assisted by Marina Masquelier
Sound design Loïc Le Roux
Costume design Benjamin Moreau
Assistant director Shady Nafar
Stage manager Sylvain Tardy
Co-direction Dee Beasnael, Craig Blake, Loïc Le Roux, Laure Mathis, Benjamin Moreau, Shady Nafar, Lisa Navarro, Elios Noël, Jérémie Papin, Jérémie Scheidler, Kim Sullivan, Sylvain Tardy
Translation Nicholas Elliot and Jennifer Gay
Set construction Atelier décor du ThéâtredelaCité – CDN Toulouse Occitanie
Costume realisation Sophie Manac’h
Administration, production, publicity, communications AlterMachine I Noura Sairour, Carole Willemot and Laure Meilhac
Media relations Irène Gordon Brassart
Technical team on tour
Stage and surtitle manager  Sylvain Tardy, Ludovic Bouaud
Light manager Marine Le Vey, Rosemonde Arrambourg, Jérémie Papin
Video manager Jérémie Scheidler, Julien Reis, Marina Masquelier
Sound manager Loïc Le Roux, Adrien Wernert


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 – Centre Dramatique National de Reims, Théâtre des Quatre saisons, Gradignan, Théâtre de Choisy-le-Roi – Scène conventionnée d’Intérêt national – Art et création pour la diversité linguistique, in cooperation with 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
With the support of Ministère de la Culture, Région Ile-de-France, Spedidam, Institut français within the frame of Théâtre Export, The Cultural Services of the French Embassy in the United States, FACE Foundation Contemporary Theater, Harlem Stage – New York – USA
With the help of Théâtre Ouvert – Centre national des Dramaturgies Contemporaines, La Chartreuse de Villeneuve Lez Avignon – centre national des écritures du spectacle et du Théâtre de l’Aquarium

Residency at CDN de Normandie-Rouen


Estimated duration 2h


Performance in french and english, with french surtitles


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?

David Geselson

Princess Noire, The tumultuous reign of Nina Simone, Nadine Cohodas, The University North Carolina Press
Black America, Une histoire des luttes pour l’égalité et la justice (XIXe-XXIe siècle), Caroline Rolland-Diamond, Éditions la Découverte
Une institution très particulière : L’esclavage aux États-Unis, 1619-1877, Peter Kolchin, Édition Belin
Une histoire populaire des États-Unis, Howard Zin, Éditions Agone
Nina Simone, Une vie, David Brun-Lambert, Éditions Flammarion
I put a spell on you, Nina Simone, autobiography, Da Capo Press
Empires, de la chine ancienne à nos jours, Jane Burbank et Fréderick Cooper, Édition Payot
Malcolm X, une vie de réinventions, Manning Marable, Editions Syllepse
Révolution non-violente, Martin Luther King, Éditions Nadir Payot-Lausanne
Retour dans l’œil du cyclone, James Baldwin, Christian Bourgois Editeur
Chassés de la lumière, James Baldwin, Ypsilon Éditeur
De l’esclavage en Amérique, Frédérick Douglass-David Thoreau, Éditions rue d’Ulm
Beloved, Toni Morisson, Éditions 10-18
Les traites négrières, Olivier Petré-Grenouilleau
Malcolm X, Le pouvoir noir, Édition la découverte
Les âmes du peuples noir, W.E.B Dubois, Éditions la Découverte
Lies my teacher told me, James W.Loewen, Atria Books
Colère noire, lettre à mon fils, Ta-Nehisi Coats, Éditions J’ai lu
Le procès de l’Amérique, Ta-Nehisi Coats, Éditions Autrement

Films, documentaries
Nina Simone : Live at Montreux 1976, production Eagle Vision
Nina Simone, The legend, de Franck Lords
Nina Simone – An Historical Perspective de Peter Rodis
What happened Miss Simone ? de Liz Garbus
Les routes de l’esclavage, de Daniel Cattier, Juan Gélas et Fanny Glissant
OJ ; Made in America, de Ezra Edelman
I am not your negro, de Raoul Peck
Malcolm X, de Spike Lee

Théâtre de Lorient CDDB

14.01.2020 — 17.01.2020

Théâtre National de Bretagne, Rennes

22.01.2020 — 29.01.2020

Le Canal, Redon


La Comédie – CDN de Reims, Festival Far Away

04.02.2020 — 05.02.2020

Le Rayon Vert, St Valéry en Caux


Théâtre d’Arles

11.02.2020 — 12.02.2020

Espace Pluriels, Pau

18.02.2020 — 19.02.2020

Théâtre de Chelles


Théâtre des Quartiers d’Ivry, CDN (en coréalisation avec le Théâtre Paul Eluard de Choisy-le-Roi)

25.02.2020 — 08.03.2020

L’Agora, Boulazac


Le Moulin du Roc, Niort

13.03.2020 — 14.03.2020

Le Gallia Théâtre, Saintes [reporté]


L’Empreinte, scène nationale de Brive-Tulle [reporté]


ThéâtredelaCité, CDN Toulouse-Occitanie [reporté]

25.03.2020 — 31.03.2020

Théâtre de la Bastille, Paris [annulé]

20.04.2020 — 29.04.2020

La rose des vents Scène nationale Lille Métropole – Villeneuve d’Ascq [reporté]

05.05.2020 — 06.05.2020

NEST, CDN de Thionville [reporté]

12.05.2020 — 14.05.2020

Théâtre Forum Meyrin – Genève (Suisse) dans le cadre du Focus « Constellation Geselson » [reporté]

12.11.2020 — 13.11.2020

Les Bancs Publics – Marseille [annulé]


CDN de Besançon [reporté]

01.12.2020 — 03.12.2020

L’empreinte – Scène nationale de Brive-Tulle [reporté]


Le Gallia – Saintes [reporté]


ThéâtredelaCité – CDN Toulouse-Occitanie

16.02.2021 — 21.02.2021

Teatro Nacional Dona Maria II – Lisbonne (Portugal)

04.03.2021 — 06.03.2021

CDN de Besançon

11.03.2021 — 13.03.2021

CDN de Besançon

11.03.2021 — 13.03.2021

Théâtre de Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines – Scène Nationale

23.03.2021 — 25.03.2021

La rose des vents Scène nationale Lille Métropole – Villeneuve d’Ascq

31.03.2021 — 01.04.2021