At the Gérard-Philipe Theater in Saint-Denis, Lorraine de Sagazan celebrates the “consecration” of death and life


“Un coronation”, conception and staging by Lorraine de Sagazan, at the Gérard-Philipe Theater in Saint-Denis (Seine-Saint-Denis).

It’s the most intensely alive show that can be seen these days, and it’s a show about death. Sacred is to be seen, until Sunday April 9, at the Gérard-Philipe Theater in Saint-Denis (Seine-Saint-Denis), where its cathartic power was hailed as such, Thursday March 30, during the premiere, by a room upright. It is signed by Lorraine de Sagazan, a director to follow: she studied with Thomas Ostermeier and Romeo Castellucci, is currently a resident at the Villa Medici, in Rome, and will sign next season a creation at the Comédie-Française . She is, moreover, the cousin of the young singer and composer Zaho de Sagazan, also very prominent.

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Sacred was born from what was, for Lorraine de Sagazan, with the Covid-19, a double major anthropological rupture: the prohibition to perform the funeral rites which, since prehistory, represent a marker of our humanity, and the closure theaters, these places where this same humanity experiences its values ​​through the mirror it holds up to itself. When the epidemic broke out, the director was working on an adaptation of the Decalogue by Krzysztof Kieslowski. The arrival of the Covid was an electric shock, which led her to a completely different approach.

Lorraine de Sagazan proposed to the author with whom she works, Guillaume Poix, to meet as many people as days wasted by the health crisis, and to question them on the theme of repair. They conducted more than three hundred interviews, over the course of which, without their having premeditated it, a theme emerged: that of death, and its invisibilization in our society, an invisibilization that had begun long before the Covid. -19.

The director and her team then realized, “with amazement”, they say, that, more or less explicitly, a request was made to them through these interviews: that the theater could be this space-time where grief and mourning could be said, lived and overcome. That he can recreate ritual where death rites, in so-called “advanced” societies, are increasingly disappearing, where death, like the rest, must be effective.

Make the dead speak

It was obviously a formidable intuition, since the theater is in its very essence the art of making the dead speak, and bringing them back to life. This link between rites and theater is posed from the outset in Sacred, from the first story told, endorsed, with incredible slaughter, by actor Benjamin Tholozan. It is that of one of the last funeral mourners in Balagne, Corsica, a strong woman who understood everything about her function, which she summarizes as follows: “I discharge all the emotion of the family of the deceased by passing it through my tears. »

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