by Mark Medoff
Directed by Anne-Marie Étienne
Les Enfants du silence
2015-04-15 00:00:00 2015-05-17 00:00:00
Jacques Leeds, a speech therapist at a school for the deaf, is convinced that the best way for deaf people to be integrated into society is by learning spoken language and obtains outstanding results from his students.
He crosses the path of Sarah Norman, a former pupil of the school who has become its cleaning woman: she asserts silence as a right and refuses to learn to speak and read lips. She rejects the principle of normative language that deaf people should submit to, under penalty of being excluded from society. Despite their differences, a genuine love story develops between Sarah and Jacques –only for their communication difficulties to gradually see them drift apart and return them to their solitude, their original silence. Alternating spoken and signed languages, Children of a Lesser God argues in favour of the right to difference and sign language.
Mark Medoff, the author
Born in the United States in 1940, Mark Medoff is an actor, director, playwright and screenwriter. After graduating from Stanford University, he became an English and theatre teacher. The author of some thirty plays, he had his first big hit in 1980 with Children of a Lesser God, translated in France as “The Children of Silence” (Les Enfants du silence), which sold out on Broadway and then in London. The play was adapted for the cinema in 1986 by Randa Haines, starring William Hurt and Marlee Matlin, who, at the age of 21, was the youngest ever recipient of the best actress Oscar. In 1993, the actress Emmanuelle Laborit, who was born deaf, received the Molière award for greatest theatrical revelation for her portrayal of Sarah in Children of a Lesser God.
Anne-Marie Etienne, the director
In her early career as an actress, Anne-Marie Étienne notably appeared in the films of Claude Chabrol and Pierre Tchernia, and on stage in Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman directed by Marcel Bluwal. With a passion for cinema, she made her directorial début in 1990 with Un été après l’autre. Three other films followed, the last of which in 2011, Sous le figuier, featuring Gisèle Casadesus. She co-authored Every Other Weekend for Nicole Garcia and La Cour des Grands for Florence Strauss. She has also penned four plays published by Actes Sud-Papiers and L’avant-scène. Anne-Marie Étienne is directing for the first time at the Comédie-Française with this production of Children of a Lesser God in an adaptation of Jean Dalric and Jacques Collard. Sensitive to the power of the text and marked by the radical nature of its discourse on disability, with this project based on the right to difference, she wishes to create a space of speech and exchange by combining spoken language and sign language on the stage of the Théâtre du Vieux-Colombier.
Mise en scène : Anne-Marie Étienne
Assistante à la mise en scène : Raphaëlle Cambray
Adaptation française : Jean Dalric et Jacques Collard
Décor : Dominique Schmitt
Costumes : Florence Emir
Assistante aux costumes : Siegrid Petit-Imbert Lumières : Laurent Béal
Son et musique : François Peyrony
Maquillages et coiffures : Cécile Marchione
Conseiller en langue des signes française : Joël Chalude
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