Recueillement

Thursday, 10. December 2015

Text by Martyn Bryant, photos by Parkash Matharu

Over the course of the fall trimester, Mitarbeiter Alain has worked with a group of student to meditate on a poem in order to produce a play, in the French language. This year they’ve been meditating Recueillement by Charles Baudelaire which, in English, roughly means Contemplation or Meditation.

As the poem begins, “Sois sage, ô ma Douleur, et tiens-toi plus tranquille.” The poem is about suffering and the students unpacked and riffed on this poem to produce, in the end, a part-biographical/part-fantastical piece about the life of Baudelaire.

The interpretation jumps back and forth between young and adult (played by Alain) Charles Baudelaire. In his early life it shows his troubled family life, in particular with his step father and the interrupted bond with his mother and tumultuous relationship with his sisters. As an adult, Baudelaire has trouble to write, trouble to live and trouble to love his black and white mistresses - The Artist acts as Baudelaire’s confidant throughout this challenging period. Throughout, transcending time, Mr and Mrs. Santa Klaus punctuate the biography with great humour.

Stage building with attractive murals was created by Jochen Rettig and a very talented student. Lighting was also provided by two students.

As the students have memorised and meditated the poem so deeply, it naturally became a lens with which they can interpret moments big and small in their lives. Notably it became a lens through which to look at recent events in Paris. As the poem ends,

“Le soleil moribond s'endormir sous une arche, Et, comme un long linceul traînant à l'Orient, Entends, ma chère, entends la douce Nuit qui marche.”

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