Europeana: A Brief History of the Twentieth Century

Europeana: A Brief History of the Twentieth Century

by Patrik OUREDNIK

Objet nocturne numéro 

Premiered in 2008 (French version) / 2013 (English version) - On Tour

Notes & textes 


The narrative’s prequel could be the Millennium Bug, the so-called catastrophe which should have deleted the whole memory of the 20th century.

The text then randomly restores the chronology of the erased century as the various pieces of the puzzle recover from their amnesia in anarchic confusion.
Seven naïve childish voices discover, in an intricate chronology, the events of the century that deeply forged the European identity: technological progress and atrocities on the one hand, great ideologies and social changes on the other, are mixed up together.  
From a four-metre-high vantage point, the audience is thus leaning over this memory gap and experience the same kind of vertigo as the characters.
The audience is offered to experience this account of the 20th century as if they were archaeologists who, bended over an excavation pit, would be digging out the buried bits of our History.



“The americans who fell in Normandy in 1944 were tall men measuring 173 centimeters on average, and if they were laid head to foot they would measure 38 kilometers. The Germans were tall too, while the tallest of all were the senegalese fusiliers in the First World War who measured 176 centimeters, and so they were sent into battle on the front of lines in order to scare the Germans.”

Europeana: A Brief History of the Twentieth Century



Europeana: A Brief History of the Twentieth Century
Publisher: Dalkey Archive Press, 2005

Concept and design: Solange OSWALD and Joël FESEL
Playwriting: Marie-Laure HÉE
Artistic collaboration: Anaïs DURIN and Élise VAN HAESEBROECK
Lighting design, stage management: Cyril MONTEIL
Music and sound effects: Lionel GINOUX
Video: Stéphane HENRY
Costumes: Sylvie MARCUCCI
Set design: Alexandre BÜGEL

English adaptation
Rehearsal coach: Emeline JOUVE
Assistant director: Jude ANDERSON

Catherine BEILIN
Frédéric CUIF
Gaetano GIUNTA

Groupe Merci

Coproduction (France):
Scène Nationale d’Aubusson / Théâtre Jean Lurçat
Théâtre National de Toulouse Midi-Pyrénées
Pronomade(s) en Haute-Garonne, centre national des arts de la rue
Équinoxe / Scène nationale de Châteauroux
Excentrique / Festival de la Région Centre
Festival d’Aurillac
Le Cylindre Théâtre.

Conseil général de la Haute-Garonne,
Résidence de création à la Scène nationale d’Aubusson et chez les Plasticiens Volants,
Usine de l’Émancipation à Graulhet.

English adaptation production:
Groupe Merci
in coproduction with
Le Cratère, scène nationale d’Alès
and the support of Région Midi-Pyrénées.

Groupe Merci is subsidized by:
Drac Midi-Pyrénées (Midi-Pyrénées Regional Office of Cultural Affairs)
Région Midi-Pyrénées (Midi-Pyrénées Regional Council)
Ville de Toulouse (Toulouse City Council).

Parfums de presse 

What Does the Press Say?

“Europeana is a weird and outstanding comeback to our already forgotten 20th century.
We lean over this “pit-cum-memory-gap” from the rim of a “Wall of death” borrowed from the sideshow tradition; an image of Europe torn apart by conflicts and various excesses such as Nazism, communism, positivism or stupidity. […]
Solange Oswald and Joël Fesel with the help of seven experienced actors convey a Kafkaesque universe and immerse their audience into a turmoil of shadows and lights, abysses and upsurges, horrors and jesting madness.

Groupe Merci used a text by French-Czech writer and poet Patrik Ourednik to dig out, in a hysterical chaos, the aberrations, tall stories and illusions that fostered the last century. For instance, Barbie’s popular success is intermingled with the aimless slaughter of millions during the two World Wars. Disturbing and exhilarating!”

in La Dépêche du Midi, 01/02/2009


“Europeana fascinates at first sight. It does take a level of brilliant intelligence to point at collective, murder-crazed utter bullshit without wallowing into preachy lectures. This ability is the compelling feature of Patrik Ourednik’s Europeana, a Brief History of the Twentieth Century. A feature shared by Solange Oswald and Joël Fesel’s creation; a work where they manage to design a space to tell all about brutality, inhumanity and the negligence of all authorities, while allowing the right distance to laugh at this horrifying bittersweet dramatic comedy.”

La Nouvelle République, 4/10/2008