At the TPR in La Chaux-de-Fonds (NE) until May 14, “The Art of Comedy” by the Neapolitan Eduardo De Filippo, directed by Anne Bisang, is both a playful play and a hymn to the need for theater .
A theater text is an empty apartment. You have the orientation of the accommodation, the distribution of the rooms, the arrangement of the windows, an architecture, a certain atmosphere and everything remains to be done. An apartment doesn’t look like you until it has been furnished, decorated, lived in, and therefore bears your identity.
Editing a theater text is the same. It is giving life to an object that at the moment is mute or almost. Just as the same apartment can have very different characters depending on its inhabitants, the same text sometimes gives rise to very different theatrical creations.
Prenez “L’art de la comédie”, du Napolitain Eduardo De Filippo, une pièce de théâtre des années 1960, d’une époque où l’administration italienne pouvait avoir des côtés pour le moins folkloriques avec arrangements et petites combines between notables of the Common. Fillippo maliciously takes pleasure in eating the priest, the prefect and the petty bourgeois with this farce set in a town suddenly isolated by a railway accident. Don Camilo and Peppone are seasoned with anarchy in this “Art of Comedy”.
A piece assembled two years ago
Two years ago in Freiburg, the team of the magnificent Julien Schmutz Theater performed “The Art of Comedy” with all the slapstick of the Commedia dell’Arte.
To take revenge on a prefect who declares his passion for the theater while mistreating the first traveling company that crosses his path, the acrobat Campese (magnificent Roger Jendly!) parades his entire company in his office, disguised as pharmacists, what a professor, what a priest, what a doctor, spouting the worst possible horrors and demanding that the prefect, quickly overwhelmed by this avalanche of absurd requests, act immediately. Demonstration made: you can not distinguish what is true from what is false in the theater since it speaks of the society in which one lives.
>> To also read the RTS Cultura article:
The same text, another piece
In La Chaux-de-Fonds, Anne Bisang’s TPR gear bears the evocative and watchmaking name of La Belle Constellation. Here they are, in turn, putting “The Art of Comedy” back at work. It is the same text. It is, however, a completely different room.
It is that in the meantime the covid has been there. At the beginning of the show, the dialogue between the theater Campese and His Excellency the Prefect focuses on… the usefulness of the theater and its adaptation to the concerns of the people. So much public money spent on theater schools, theaters and all the professions that gravitate around the world of the performing arts, isn’t this proof that the theater is a good of public utility? Just like medicine, firefighters or galvano plasticizers.
Conclusion shared by the two debaters that takes on a completely different flavor after this year 2021 where the theater was no longer part of the activities considered “necessary and essential” during the confinement measures. Anne Bisang is not as cunning as the proud peasant windbag, but we think that for her “The Art of Comedy” is a dish that can also be eaten cold.
>> To see, Anne Bisang’s interview at 12:45:
A hymn to the performance of the living arts
In fact, transferred to the mountains of Neuchâtel, the humor of the Neapolitan Eduardo De Filippo becomes more scathing, sometimes even dark and serious, oscillating between the pure pleasure of farce (with his ridiculous accents, bazaar hairpieces and creaking arms ) and manifest policy. “The work is a hymn to the function of the living arts, to freedom and therefore to the symbolic power of artists,” writes the director and director of the TPR in the archive of her show.
“The art of comedy” is a comedy, yes. It is also an art. And as such, it is precious to fight for him. With many nods on stage to the world of watchmaking, La Chaux-de Fonds and the Femen carried by a company that we will often see again on the Beau-Site stage. La Belle Constellation, namely Lionel Aebischer, Françoise Boillat, Isabelle Meyer, Patric Rêves, Juliette Vernerey and Philippe Vuillemier, all artists from the region of different generations will carry the repertoire of the house for several seasons, thus finding the community spirit that during long inspired the TPR, aka Théâtre populaire romand.
“The art of comedy” to see at the TPR in La Chaux-de-Fonds from May 5 to 8, 2022, then from May 12 to 14, 2022.