“Groupe Merci builds islets to face the questions that keep all of us awake. Islets, so as not to sink alone in the dark without anything to share with others. A political theatre of unrest. Unquestionably.”
Marie-Laure HÉE (playwright)
“Groupe Merci” is a Toulouse-based theatre company founded in 1996 by stage director Solange Oswald and visual artist Joël Fesel. Their productions constantly involve the creation of new approaches in order to immerse the audience into the theatrical space.
The texts the company adapts for the stage are works by contemporary authors that deal with our own catastrophes: demise, History’s barbarities, social and political yokes… They highlight the way these catastrophes challenge our bodies and restrain our minds while altering the course of our individual and collective human destinies.
It is all about turning shows into real theatrical experiences:
To do so, the company establishes a dialogue between text and space: the former is not dependent on the latter but rather, they both work together and each in its own specific manner to offer a new way of seeing and feeling the text in order to hear the disarray and traumas of our time. In other words, space and text have to spring up where they are not expected to.
The experience offered to the audience departs from conventional theatre settings: walking about in a cemetery or leaning over a pit—reflecting the massive gap in our memories—or even gathered around a forum, in a small circle, where the malaises of our democracies are conveyed...
This also requires a close focus on the actors’ bodies, on words, lights and sounds, and thus to get at the heart of the show, for these artistic devices only take their full meanings when the audience is part and parcel of the theatrical performance.
The rituals of drama are constantly disrupted and the poetic text itself is literally incarnated into the actors’ performances and the scenic space. The role of drama is constantly questioned by discussing the place of the audience: what is the right distance to adopt as far as representation, actors’ bodies and words are concerned?
Laughing at our own miseries is essential, to an even greater degree when this laugh turns bittersweet.
Groupe Merci is in residence at Pavillon Mazar (Toulouse, France), “a laboratory of new forms” which accommodates the company’s creations as well as workshops and technical trainings in performing arts and contemporary writings. Pavillon Mazar is dedicated to transmitting and fostering artistic endeavours and to spreading creative ideas and energies.
Groupe Merci call their performances “Nocturnal Objects”, which is also the name they give to the places they lead their audience to, i.e. towards gloomy-yet-merry objects; objects demanding that great heed be paid, just like the heed one experiences at dusk when hearing becomes keener and sight less clear.
Groupe Merci’s Productions
De quelques choses vues la nuit
Patrick KERMANN (1996)
Les tristes champs d’asphodèles
Patrick KERMANN (1997)
A work commissioned to Patrick KERMANN and Alain BÉHAR (1998)
Howard BARKER (1998)
La Mastication des morts
Patrick KERMANN (1999)
The Great Disaster
Patrick KERMANN (2000)
Patrick KERMANN (2000)
Texts by Olivier CADIOT, Katalin MOLNÁR, Christophe TARKOS (2002)
Permanent plastic installation with sound effects (2003)
Werner SCHWAB (2004)
Texts by Éric ARLIX, Ronan CHÉNEAU, Jean-Paul QUÉINNEC (2005-2006)
Désobéissance, double quartet
Éric ARLIX, featuring Jean-Marc PADOVANI Quartet (2007)
Europeana, une brève histoire du XXe siècle
Patrik OUREDNIK (2008)
Génie du proxénétisme
from Charles ROBINSON (2010)
Falk RICHTER (2014)
Thomas BERNHARD (2015)