L'Île des esclaves

Slave Island
by Marivaux
Directed by Benjamin Jungers


6 March 13 April 2014


L'Île des esclaves

2014-03-06 00:00:00 2014-04-13 00:00:00

Shipwreck survivors Iphicrate and Euphrosine, accompanied by their slaves Arlequin and Cléanthis, find themselves stranded on an island off the coast of Athens where power and class relations are reversed.

Welcomed by Trivelin, the governor of the island and overseer of the game, all four are ordered to exchange their clothes and their status, for therapeutic purposes. For exactly eight days, the inhabitants of Slave Island must lower their masks to let surprise and sentiment out into the open. Inspired by commedia dell’arte, Marivaux puts this moral conversion to the test of a carnivalesque reversal of situations where subversive laughter corrects “the barbarities of the heart”.

Marivaux, the authorSlave Island was performed in 1725 by the Comédiens-Italiens, with Silvia in the role of Cléanthis and Thomassin in that of Arlequin. This comedy was Marivaux’s biggest success during his lifetime. In 1939 it entered the repertoire of the Comédie-Française on the occasion of the celebrations marking the hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the French Revolution, and in 1964 this one-act play returned to the boards in the Salle Richelieu in a staging by Jacques Charon. The first part of a trilogy of island utopias completed by The Island of Reason and The Colony, Slave Island tackles, in a brief form, two themes dear to Marivaux: the instability of status and experimentation through disguise. However, with this theatrical journey into utopia, the author creates multiple areas of turbulence by inserting a sometimes dizzying violence into the heart of a highly polished comic piece.

Benjamin Jungers, the director
Benjamin Jungers joined the Comédie-Française in 2007 and has notably acted in Edward Bond’s Existence directed by Christian Benedetti, Beaumarchais’ The Marriage of Figaro directed by Christophe Rauck, Marivaux’s The Dispute, directed by Muriel Mayette, as well as in Philippe Minyana’s Metamorphoses, The Little Girl in the Deep Forest directed by Marcial Di Fonzo Bo. In 2012, he wrote and directed a monologue as part of the carte blanche programme at the Théâtre du Vieux-Colombier. In his reading Slave Island, Benjamin Jungers is sensitive to the rising violence faced by characters, who not only are deprived of their status but also of their own identities. On this island that is at the same time prison and fantasy, they discover in themselves an unsuspected otherness that they will try to express, whether with awkwardness, humour or rage.

Creative team

Direction****: Benjamin Jungers
Direction assistant: Nelly Pulicani
Costumes: Bernadette Villard
Scenography****: Lisa Navarro
Lights****: Pascal Noël
Music****: Denis Chouillet
Clarinet****: Fabrice Villard


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