|Listening to news of the riot in 'Communiqué n° 10'|
In France, unlike in the U.S., the suburbs (called banlieues), tend to be poor and predominantly immigrant-based, where racism and police brutality are common. And in October 2005, a group of friends from Arabic and African families were coming home from playing soccer in one of these banlieues, Clichy-sous-Bois, when a few of them hid from police officers in a power station. Three of them were electrocuted, and two of those died. That night riots broke out in Clichy-sous-Bois, spreading to other Parisian suburbs and then to the suburbs of other major French cities.
Samuel Gallet's play, "Communiqué n°10," which closes The Cutting Ball Theater's 15th season, was inspired by the riots and all the history leading up to them and explores the assumptions we make about immigrants and the preconceived ideas we have about their identities.
The Cutting Ball's artistic director Rob Melrose translated the play from the French and is directing this production. Gallet says he and Melrose share a love for August Strindberg's work, and he wanted this play, like Strindberg's work to show a tension between realism and poetry. Gallet spoke with us recently about that tension, writing as an adventure, and how art should add to reality.
Where were you during the riots in 2005? What did you think when you first heard about them?
I was in the Parisian suburbs when the riots started. First, the violence of the situation really affected me, and after I hoped that all this would lead to new ways of talking about the history of France, its immigration, the difficult conditions that a large part of our population have to endure. I was especially shocked by the way the media and most politicians talked about them: they totally ignored political, economical and historical facts or analysis and once again based their communication on fear, angst and confusion of facts and ideas.More »