At Dpart dIncendies, Young Theater Makers Swing Big
Ariane Mnouchkine, a grande dame of French theater, helped to set up a new festival where emerging companies can try out ambitious stagings.
When the revered French director Ariane Mnouchkine set up her own playhouse in 1970 in a disused munitions factory on the outskirts of Paris, she vowed to turn the space into a laboratory for popular theater. Over a half-century later, she is staying true to her word. This month, Mnouchkine has handed the keys to five emerging companies, at no cost, to stage a new festival: Dpart dIncendies, or Starting Fires.
The idea came from Annabelle Zoubian, a 28-year-old theater director. In an interview, Zoubian said that the pandemic and the rising cost of touring had made it difficult for early-career artists to take on ambitious stagings. So, in 2021, she reached out to Mnouchkine and asked if she would be willing to host an event dedicated to young troupes.
The answer, an instant yes, left Zoubian slightly stunned, she said before the opening performance of the festival last weekend. Its exactly what we needed for someone to trust us to learn, she said.