Fin des terres


"It is not often that you have the title of the show before the scenario. Our refuge in Brittany, where we retired to write, is located in Finistère. By splitting this word (which comes from the Latin "finis terrae") in two, you obtain “fin des terres” or "end of the earth". The region's name in Breton, “pen ar bed”, is even more evocative, meaning “end of the earth and the start of something else”.

I have a first image in my head: A man on the edge of a cliff throws a letter out to sea. Carried off by the wind, it reaches a woman on the opposite cliff. The woman starts to spin round, as if to wrap herself in a whirlwind. The letter flies back off to the man. I throw a first synopsis down on paper. When I say “I throw”, it is rather myself that I throw into a first phase of chaos, which I then laboriously attempt to organise. The result was this first rough draft, which I found in my notes:

"Lost within herself, a woman, Léa, locks herself away in a bubble (literally and figuratively). A man named Samuel tries to join her, overcoming a series of obstacles to penetrate her obsessions, getting lost in his own doubts, in a whirlwind of pretences, failed encounters and tragi-comic fantasies. They are led, sometimes attracted, swallowed, or spat out into a succession of overlapping landscapes, by these letters whose content will never be revealed, before reaching this end of the earth, and this start of something else."

For the first time, the main character doesn't go through a journey within himself, but rather through someone else. Léa leads him into her childhood memories. They manipulate each other through puppets. The girl puppet, Marsha, shows John her knickers, then insists despite John's refusal, to see his willy. She opens his flies and a snake jumps out. When she falls over backwards, her legs turn into scissors. She cuts his snake off. A scene inspired by my childhood meeting with Claudine..."

Working on the computer, sticking together fragments of photos of our actors and swimmers, I create John and Marsha from baby dolls' heads, they are about 110 cm tall, each one controlled by three puppeteers, who blend into the decor. The result disappoints me so much that I start to call the sequence into question. Without being convinced, I make the puppets even bigger than the puppeteers. This illogical change of sale turns out to be brilliant, giving new depth to the scene, creating a temporal shortcut, with adults on a "childhood drip", playing with inordinately oversized puppets.

My six year-old grandson had a recurring nightmare for months, whose violence troubled me. Hundreds of insects climbing along his bed. Even after waking up, terrified, he could still see them on the wall, on him, and on my shoulder.

The scene takes shape: a giant insect with a human head appears from the basement and seduces a blindfolded Léa. Her blindfold falls off and after the first moments of disgust, Léa allows herself to be caught up in a syncopated tango by this repulsive yet attractive partner. Four actors control this huge insect, it takes off, returns, leads Léa in a hypnotic dance, spinning her around and over to trap her in a cocoon, symbolizing the turmoil of the traps of seduction...

La Fin des terres toured the world in 2009. Programmed at the Damas Opera House, Arab cultural capital for 2008, the ambassador warned us: the Syrian public likes shows, but is not very demonstrative. At the end of the play, sitting in the front row, the ambassador was stunned to see spectators standing up all around him to applaud the actors."

Paysages intérieurs, pp. 205-211 © Actes Sud