End of summer 1989. On the top floor of the highest tower in the “Kingdom”, a social housing high rise block on the edge of the forest, Elizabeth, a woman in her forties, is bringing up her step-daughter, Blanche, single handedly. Blanche is a very beautiful fifteen year-old adolescent sporting a Gothic look: her mother died when she was little and her father, a famous trapeze artist, left many years ago to work with a circus in the USSR. Peaceful coexistence is not always an easy task. Over the years, a wall has gradually materialized between Blanche and Elizabeth. And two thousand kilometers away, Berlin is still cut in half…
Between misunderstandings and tensions, fugues and states of anxiety, “Snow White or The Fall of the Berlin Wall” reinterprets the key elements of the famous fairy tale while melding them with this new version set in the historical context of the Cold War: the forest (dark), the dwarfs (garden gnomes), the poisoned apples (candied apples) , the mirror ? magical?… Come autumn, will the fall of the wall coincide with a renewed connection between our heroines? Will they fall together? Or separately? For better or for worse?
Making the wall crumble and fallWith our reinvention of the Snow White fairy tale, we blend the intimate story of our heroines with the greater, more universal history of the world.
We witness Elizabeth’s sometimes funny, often troubled daily life. A flight attendant in her forties, she can’t help her ≪preachy≫ tone towards Blanche. After all, she is raising this Gothic, mute and tormented adolescent on her own. Between them, the status quo is a kind of peaceful coexistence. At age 15, Blanche’s response to life, politics, and her step-mother is to blow huge bubbles with her bubblegum, have her walkman glued to her ears and wear a “The Cure” t-shirt. The kind of situation that sounds familiar, whether you be a parent or a child…
Our show continuously plays with the double layered interpretation that an event or an attitude can trigger, according to your age, culture or life experience.
Here, the story is told with humor from the point of view of the fairest one of the kingdom. No, Blanche is not that sweet naive girl we’ve been told she is. No, Elizabeth is not the evil narcissistic persona everyone thinks they know… Once again, we turn this well-known story inside out, we twist it around.
Our Snow White is a modern day fairy tale poised between depth and lightness, in which each element of fiction becomes reality: the seven dwarfs are actually garden gnomes stolen from the gardens of the residential neighborhoods, the poisoned apple comes from a crate of candied apples sent to the young Blanche by her father, and the magic mirror is really just the bathroom mirror.
As we follow the adventures of Blanche and Elizabeth, in parallel we witness the last months of turmoil before the fall of the Berlin Wall and the final event itself: the fall of the wall in November 1989. The fall of the wall has been one of the last “happy” historical events that we have experienced during our lifetime. Will this also be the case for our two protagonists?
La CordonnerieSince 1997, the Cordonnerie has been developing a multidisciplinary style of creation, fusing theater, film and music that we have decided to name ‘cine-performance’. Our very first rehearsals took place in the backroom of a shoe repair shop in the heart of Lyon ? a ≪ cordonnerie ≫ in French. The name stuck!
From 2002 to 2007, the company was in residence at the Theatre de Venissieux. During this period, we began the work of re-writing and adapting fairy tales, reading ourselves into this profound and infinitely rich material, shaping the tales into modern and offbeat versions suitable for all audiences over the age of 6 or 8, depending on the project. We have also tackled works that, on first glance, might not be easily accessible to young audiences such as Shakespeare’s Hamlet or Marry Shelley’s Frankenstein, two monuments whose universal themes resonate for all of us.
This adaptation phase is followed by the making of a silent film. The film is then shown on stage and accompanied by musicians, actors and sound engineers who re-create live the sound texture of the film, using a multitude of instruments and incongruous objects. Film and theater echo each other, giving birth to this completely hybrid stage object where innovative technical research (in terms of sound, image, audience immersion…) brushes with a deep-rooted homespun spirit.
Our artistic project strives to break down the boundaries between disciplines but also between the idea of a theater for children and one for adults. Our shows are truly intended for all audiences since we provide keys to different entrance points. Indeed, we have always thought that to cater specifically to a young audience makes things open to everyone by playing with nuances, the power of suggestion and different layers of interpretation. This allows each audience member to relate to the story on their own level, to shiver with emotion or be moved, whatever their age, culture or life experience may be. Ultimately, working with a young audience in mind comes down to seeking a form of universality.
Since 2005, a repertoire of five shows produced by La Cordonnerie has toured regionally, nationally and internationally (Reseau Scenes ? Quebec, Kids Euro Festival ? Washington, Le Fil Festival ? Rio de Janeiro, The French Institute of Algeria, Rotondes ? Luxembourg…) adding up to a total of over a thousand performances.
In November 2015, while working on the making of “Snow White or The Fall of the Berlin Wall”, we also devised a short spin-off form called “Udo, gone completely east”. This is a short play whose story is told from the point of view of one of the secondary characters in the first opus, who is also completely absent from the original version of the fairy tale : Snow White’s father.
These two plays are currently on tour as we work on our new show: In the skin of Don Quixote.
CreditsVoices, sound effectsSamuel Hercule, Metilde Weyergans Piano, keyboardsTimothee Jolly Drums, percussions, guitarFlorie Perroud Sound designerAdrian’ Bourget Sound managerAdrian’ Bourget Lighting designerJohannes Charvolin Lighting manager and stage managerSebastien Dumas Assistant directorPauline Hercule Assistant stage managersMarylou Spirli Production and administrationAnais Germain et Caroline Chavrier
Film creditsCastValentine Cadic, Metilde Weyergans, Samuel Hercule, Quentin Ogier, Neil Adam, Jean-Luc Porraz, Alix Benezech,Vannina Furnion, Florie Perroud, Timothee Jolly... Assistant directorDamien Noguer Director of photographyAurelien Marra Set designerMarine Gatellier Costume designerRemy Le Dudal EditorGwenael Giard Barberin Production and administration Fanny Yvonnet, Caroline Chavrier and Anais Germain ProductionLa Cordonnerie Co-productionsTheatre de la Ville ? Paris ; Le Manege de Reims ? National theater ; Nouveau theatre de Montreuil, National Drama Center; Theatre de Villefranche-sur-Saone ; Maison des Arts Creteil ? National theater of Creteil and of Val de Marne ; Theatre de St-Quentin-en-Yvelines, National theater ; Le Granit ? National theater, Belfort.With the support of the SPEDIDAM. The Cordonnerie receives funding from the Region of Auvergne ? Rhone Alpes and the Ministry of Culture and Communications / DRAC Auvergne ? Rhone - Alpes