Luxembourg's selection for the 2023 Avignon Festival OFF : "Petit frère - la grande histoire Aznavour" by Laure Roldàn and Gaëtan Vassart
Petit frère, a play written and produced by Laure Roldàn and Gaëtan Vassart, was selected by an independent jury of renowned experts from the Luxembourg and French theatre scene to represent French-language theatre from the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg at the 2023 Avignon Festival OFF. With financial support from the Ministry of Culture and Kultur | lx, the play will be staged at the Caserne des pompiers, the venue for events from the Grand Est Region under an agreement with the Luxembourg Ministry of Culture. Performances shall run from 7 – 29 July 2023.
The jury included Serge Basso de March (author and poet), Pablo Chimienti (communication and PR director at THEATER FEDERATIOUN), Godefroy Gordet (journalist, author, director and president of Le Gueuloir, a cross-border collective of playwrights), Lee Fou Messica (artistic director of the Espace Bernard-Marie Koltès – an official national theatre in Metz and co-president of the Quint’Est network) and Ian De Toffoli (author and director selected by Luxembourg for the 2022 Avignon Festival OFF).
Laure Roldàn’s submission met the jury’s criteria in terms of artistic quality, adaptation to the constraints in Avignon, and the potential for distribution. The jury commented on the sensitivity of the performance and the excellent cabaret-theatre format, combining the dramatic with the narrative and exploring both history and biography. In addition to being a tribute to Charles Aznavour and a touching account of his life, Petit Frère is also a timely reflection on brotherly love, artistic creativity, a bohemian lifestyle, migration and integration.
Produced by Laure Roldàn’s company, La Compagnie Juana La Loca and Gaëtan Vassart’s company, Cie La ronde de nuit, as a co-production with the Bombyx collective, supported by Luxembourg City Theatres through the Capucins Libre residency to complete the project, Petit frère is an adaptation of a book with the same title by Charles Aznavour’s sister, Aïda Aznavour-Gavarentz. In her book, Aïda described the peregrinations of the Aznavourians, a family saga spanning the great history of the 20th Century with Charles as the main protagonist. Laure Roldàn and Gaëtan Vassart have made the text their own and brilliantly brought its themes to the stage: the Armenian genocide; the exile of the Aznavourian parents; poverty in Paris; Nazi occupation; and Charles’ key relationship with Edith Piaf before he conquered the music halls. Highlighting this unique story, the play looks back at a history of integration though language and by dint of talent and desire. If Charles Aznavour’s fate seems universal, it’s because it is the song of exile.
About La Compagnie Juana La Loca
La Compagnie Juana La Loca is a theatre company based in Luxembourg that creates and produces live theatre performing art. Founded in 2018 by Laure Roldàn, it explores the themes of exile and cultural appropriation through language. More specifically, the company adapts texts and material that were not initially written for theatre and is particularly interested in urban spaces and interactive productions. Petit frère – la grande histoire Aznavour (Little Brother – The Great Story of Aznavour) is the company’s first production. It was followed by Les bancs publics, un intinéraire urbain inventé (Public Benches, An Imaginary Urban Walk), a musical and poetry performance offering an intimate historical and musical portrait of the city of Luxembourg during a guided walk. The next production, Les murs parlent (Walls Talk) which explores urban graffiti, marks and scars, will be a co-production between Hammana Artists House (Lebanon), St Ouen sur scene (France) and KulturFabrik (Luxembourg), supported by the Commission Internationale du Théâtre Francophone and Kultur | lx – Arts Council Luxembourg.
About Laure Roldàn
A French, Spanish and Luxembourg national, Laure Roldàn studied at the Conservatoire national supérieur d’art dramatique in Paris. She has acted under various directors, including Muriel Mayette, Hélène Vincent, Arthur Nauzyciel, Christian Benedetti, Silviu Purcarete, Vincent Goethals, Carole Lorang, Laura Schroeder, Laurent Contamin, Matthew Lenton, Myriam Muller, Pascale Noé-Adam, Laurent Guttman, Fabio Godinho, Yann Colette, Jean Boillot and Frederic Maragnani. She has also acted for cinema for directors Jean-Michel Ribes, Jean-Paul Civeyrac, Artus de Penguern, Pascal Bonitzer, and Catherine Castel. In 2011, she directed Voilà donc le Monde !, based on Lost Illusions by Balzac, at Théâtre 13. She staged Dolce inferno, an adaptation inspired by Fellini’s Dolce Vita at the Grand Théâtre de Luxembourg as part of TalentLAB and assisted Yves Beaunesne on Ruy Blas by Victor Hugo. She also assisted Calixto Bieito at the Repertory Theatre in Birmingham for the performance of The String Quartet’s Guide To Sex And Anxiety. She collaborated with Gaëtan Vassart on Anna Karenine – les bals où je m’amuse n’existent plus pour moi at the Théâtre de la Tempête with Golshifteh Farahni in the lead role. During a Capucins Libre residency, Roldàn created Petit frère, la grande histoire Aznavour, an adaptation of the book by Aïda Aznavour-Gavarentz. The play will go on tour to France and Armenia. She co-directed La rue des fleurs n’existe pas with Aude-Laurence Biver and Christine Muller for TalentLAB goes city at the Grand Théâtre de Luxembourg in September 2020. In spring 2021, she designed, wrote and produced Les bancs publics, an itinerant musical and poetry performance at symbolic locations across the city, in collaboration with composer Camille Rocailleux. In 2021, with Gaëtan Vassart she wrote a short film, 1 heure 30, and a feature film, Love, which is currently in production. In October 2021, she participated in the project incubator run by the Commission Internationale du Théâtre Francophone in Hammana, Lebanon, where she met artists from French-speaking countries with whom she forged strong artistic bonds.
About Gaëtan Vassart
Born in Brussels in 1978, Gaëtan Vassart is an author, director, and actor who now lives between Paris and Bastogne. He studied directing at INSAS before joining the Conservatoire National Supérieur d’Art Dramatique in Paris in 2001. He has acted on stage under the direction of Philippe Adrien, Bernard Sobel, Eric Ruf, Gérard Desarthe, Michel Didym, Joël Jouanneau, and Laura Shroeder and performed texts by Handke, Ostrovski, Shakespeare, Valetti, Olecha, Gombrowicz. He has acted for cinema and been directed by Jean-Xavier de Lestrade, Laurent Herbiet, and Pierre Schoeller (L’Exercice de l’Etat). Gaëtan Vassart released several albums before becoming a playwright. He wrote and directed Toni M., a text that received a CNT creation grant and a residency at the Chartreuse and was presented at the Théâtre des Halles in Avignon; Peau d’Ourse, based on the Italian tale Pentamerone, at the Maison de Radio France with Anne Alvaro; and Danseuse (support from CNT) created at the Comédie de Picardie. In 2015, he adapted Anna Karénine – les bals où on s’amuse n’existent plus pour moi, the first stage adaptation in France of Tolstoy’s novel Anna Karenina which he directed at the Théâtre de la Tempête in 2016 with Golshifteh Farahani in the lead role. The same year, with Jean-Claude Carrière, Gaëtan Vassart wrote a stage adaptation of the novel Elle joue by Nahal Tajadod. In 2018, he directed Miss Julie by Strindberg at the Comédie de Picardie, a co-production with the Scène nationale d’ALBI. That year, he also directed Home, partie by Naghmeh Samini at the Théâtre Aftab Hall at Fajr International Festival Théâtre in Teheran in partnership with the Cultural Department of the French Embassy in Teheran. In 2019, he directed Bérénice by Jean Racine at the Manufacture des Oeillets, at the Théâtre des Quartiers d’Ivry, Centre Dramatique National du Val-de-Marne, in a co-production with the Théâtre du Jeu de Paume d’Aix- en-Provence, with Valérie Dréville in the lead role. In 2022, he adapted L’art de perdre, based on the novel by Alice Zeniter at the 11 Avignon.