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Interview with the director of ''Les Bonnes''

By Patricia Connell

Les Bonnes

Author:      Jean Genet

Directed by:
Caroline Ha Thuc

Patricia Connell interviews Caroline Ha Thuc and Camille Plantevain

In a little French café in Holland Park, I am waiting for Caroline and Camille to arrive and I am still thinking about what made them choose this play. After all, it is based on a sombre story of the two Papin sisters who kill their employers in a very violent way. Trying all sorts of kitchen instruments in the process. On the face of it, it is a rather easy play, with very simple dialogues but completely typical of the ‘theatre of the Absurd’. What makes it so interesting however, are the messages that Jean Genet sends through out.
Caroline Thuc arrives first. Camille has been delayed.
Tell me about yourself.

Simple, I have created this theatre company, hoping to be able to produce some interesting plays. I tried to do the same in France but with great difficulty. In France, if you are not very well known, there is no hope. Getting sponsoring is practically impossible. Companies there, believe that actors and authors should be living ‘d’amour et d’eau fraîche’. The love for their art should be enough. Here, there is a real understanding of sponsoring. Companies show a real interest in the arts. Entrepreneurship is much better understood.
You know, I write plays as well and I hope that at some point I could present one of my own.

Why this play?

I always liked it and I was keen to put together something that had a real bite. I also knew that it was a play that the Francophile community knew relatively well.

Obviously, this play has been produced a number of times so how different is this staging going to be?

You’re right. It was a real challenge to try and find a different way of staging it. But I think we have. I toyed with the idea of placing in an office but that was too predictable in a way. So instead, I chose a psychiatric hospital. After all, this also fits perfectly. In addition, I wanted the whole thing to finish on a different note so there is a twist at the end.

At this point, Camille Plantevain arrives.

Do you think you will be able to attract many Brits given that this is a play often studied in English Universities?

I do hope so although we have not approached universities as yet.

Jean Genet was obviously a strange man in many ways., someone you don’t meet very often in the course of a lifetime.

Yes, completely autodidact. He was abandoned. Got into trouble later on. Join the foreign legion, deserted. And out of the blue, he is discovered by Sartre, Gide and Cocteau and it’s only because of their intervention that he is not sent to prison and pardoned. He was also gay.

Do you think that the this is also showing in the play?

There is a sense of love throughout the play but there is nothing obvious.

How difficult was it for you Camille? You play one of the two sisters.

I must admit, this was not an easy part. It takes so much out of you. There isn’t amount when you think you don’t have to be 100% emotionally involved in what you are doing on stage. You go in and out of states. It makes it so taxing. It was the first time in my career I had such a strong and demanding part. But I really enjoyed every moment of it.

Plus, the team worked very well together. We had a very small budget and yet I think we managed to put something great together.

Do you have any other projects in mind?

I have a book coming out in Paris in May. It’s about a woman who believes in all sorts of things including little green men from Mars.

Enjoy the play!


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