Compagnie des 5 Roues, France
Rewriting of the Ancient Greek Myth, Electra
Directed by Simon Abkarian
A Compagnie des 5 Roues Production in Partnership with the Théâtre National de Nice
December 3, 2022, 16:30
WHERE: Canal Side Theatre
Duration: 160 minutes
Screened in French, with Chinese subtitles
Special thanks to the Ambassade de France en Chine.
Recommendation of the Committee
The ancient Greek myth of Electra and Orestes is one of the most popular among Western European artists. The playwright and director Simon Abkarian was inspired to create the performance by the immortal plays of Euripides, Sophocles, and Aeschylus, each of which is an absolute masterpiece. Abkarian calls his "Electra" "Cinderella on the contrary." The ancient princess, finding herself at the bottom of her life, tries to remain highly moral, and preserve her spiritual purity and pride.
There are 20 performers on stage, including dramatic actors, dancers, singers, and musicians. According to the director, music is the “lungs” of the performance. The production breathes blues and rock and roll. Live music is performed on stage by the Howlin' Jaws, played on traditional guitars and double basses, as well as timpani, Indian percussion, mandolin, ukulele, banjo, and bouzouka. The production was awarded three "Molières" - the highest theater awards in France: for "Best Performance", "Best Playwright" and "Best Director". Aurora Fremont, who played the role of Elektra, was named the "theatrical discovery of the year." It also won two Prix syndicat de la critique, Prix théâtre SACD (SACD Theatre Award, the Chinese equivalent of the Society of Authors and Composers).
After its immense success when it was created in 2019 and all its awards obtained, the version of Electra by Simon Abkarian, a Rock tragedy, a funeral ballet, comes back to haunt us, for our greatest pleasure. About twenty artists, "live" musicians, dance, songs, comedy and drama, this total show is unmissable!
Frédéric Bonfils, Foudart
The expressionist dances of Kathakali blend with the breath of the ould, the mandolin, the bandjo and the Greek djura. You could almost feel the hot monsoon air and the sandy vapors of the Ganges on your skin...
Sylvie Boursier, Un fauteuil pour l'Orchestre
Simon Abkarian resumes his version of Electra. A tragedy of flesh and blood of exceptional dramatic power, merging music, dance and song. A total spectacle, carried by about twenty high-flying artists, rewarded by three Molières and two Prizes from the Critics' Union. Do not miss!
Agnès Santi, Journal La Terrasse
This new take on the ancient Greek myth is the work of the French actor and director Simon Abkarian, perhaps best known internationally as a Bond villain (he played a corrupt contractor in "Casino Royale"). Instead of turning to the work of the Greek playwright Aeschylus, Sophocles or Euripides, Mr. Abkarian has opted to rewrite it entirely. Happily, his version feels at once old and new, in good part thanks to the dance and music seamlessly woven into it.
Laura Cappelle, New York Times
Simon Abkarian takes up the characters brought to life on stage by Euripides, Sophocles, Aeschylus and he composes a very colorful, very human, very powerful saga, which we follow like an accessible story which, however, surpasses us and grows in us. The work of Simon Abkarian and his comrades is essential as the most brilliant and touching of the evenings that one can experience, these days, at theater.
Armelle Heliot，Le Figaroscope
About Électre des bas-fonds
The story of Électre des bas-fonds takes place on the first day of spring, when the Day of the Dead is celebrated and all the underclass pariahs are expecting the resurrection of the dead at night. A glass-door closet is erected at the back of the stage, and the doors open and close to complete the scene switching, either in the lowly brothel of Argos, or for the night tour of the dead on the Day of the Dead, and suddenly presenting a crazy party in the palace. The music and choreography are equally beautiful, and Abkarian believes that "without dance and music, tragedy cannot breathe". His choreography incorporates a lot of traditional Indian dance kathakali elements: the male protagonist Orestes disguised as an Indian girl, wearing silver bells on his feet, dancing in a procession of exotic women, silver bells ringing; there are also Trojan women dressed in short kimono, dressed as geisha, twisting their waists, singing and dancing in the sorrow. This extremely exotic visual presentation made the European audience in the theater amazed.
Playwright/Director: Simon Abkarian
Cast: Simon Abkarian, Catherine Schaub-Abkarian, Aurore Fremont, Eliot Maurel, Djivan Abkarian, Lucas Humbert, Baptiste Leon, Maral Abkarian, Chouchane Agoudjian, Anais Ancel, Maud Bréthenoux, Laurent Clauwaert, Victor Fradet, Christina Galstian Agoudjian, Rafaela Jirkovsky, Nathalie Le Boucher, Olivier Mansard, Nedjma Merahi, Manon Pelissier, Annie Rumani, Suzana Thomas, Frédérique Voruz
Lighting Design: Jean-Michel Bauer and Geoffroy Adragna
Costume Design: the company under the watchful eye of Catherine Shaub-Abkarian
Composers: Djivan Abkarian, Lucas Humbert, Baptiste Leon
Sound Design and Operation: Ronan Mansard
Set Design: Simon Abkarian and Philippe Jasko
Choreography: Compagnie des 5 Roues
Movement Training: Nedjma Merahi, Christina Galstian Agoudjian, Catherine Schaub Abkarian, Nathalie le Boucher, Annie Rumani
Physical Training: Nedjma Merahi, Annie Rumani, Maud Brethenoux, Nathalie le Boucher
Vocal Training: Rafaela Jirkovsky
Stage Management: Philippe Jasko
Scenic Construction: Philippe Jasko, Compagnie des 5 Roues
Dresser: Micha Liebgott
Dramaturgy/Artistic Collaborator: Pierre Ziadé
Production: Pascale Boeglin
About Simon Abkarian
Simon Abkarian was born in Paris. He trained in New York and Los Angeles. This led to him joining the Théâtre du Soleil, where he could deploy his acting talent during 8 years in several Ariane Mnouchkine shows.
He played in the biggest French and international theaters. From 2012 he writes, plays and directs his own plays: Le Dernier Jour du Jeûne and Électre des bas-fonds. With Électre des bas-fonds he created a "total play" for 23 actors and won the most important theater prizes in France.
On screens, he worked with the biggest directors and starred in 007 Casino Royale.
About the Chekhov International Theatre Festival Festival
Chekhov International Theatre Festival was established in 1992. The idea came about in 1986 at the Constituent Congress of the USSR Union of Theatremakers. After the fall of the iron curtain, Russian theatre had to become part of the global cultural exchange, find its own identity, meet the new challenges, and become part of the intensive artistic dialog. After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, at the last Congress of the USSR Union of Theatremakers, it was decided to convert it into the International Confederation of Theatre Unions (ICTU), and thus try to keep an integrated theatre space. The integral part of the Chekhov Festival's mission is promoting and presenting the best international theatre productions at the most prestigious global performing arts forums.
About Compagnie des 5 Roues
The Compagnie des 5 Roues was born from the desire for writing and staging of Simon Abkarian, accompanied by dancer and actress Catherine Schaub.
For more than twenty years, the company's shows have been traveling throughout France and around the world, always carrying a troupe spirit so dear to Simon Abkarian.
Language is at the center of his creations. With lyricism and poetry, his texts, published by Actes Sud-Papiers, combine the rewriting of the great stories of mythology with timeless family frescoes: the common thread being an acute political consciousness, and the denunciation of all forms of oppression, in particular that of women, putting to the center of theatrical performance music and dance.
Électre des bas-fonds, is in line with Simon Abkarian's artistic approach, also showing his ability to gather together on stage a troupe of more than twenty artists, united by an ambitious project, mixing singing, dance and music.