# 10 Dom Juan or the feast of the statue


By Jean Lambert-wild, Lorenzo Malaguerra and Marc Goldberg

The creative team behind DOM JUAN OR THE FEAST WITH THE STATUE share diary entries about their new show.



As soon as we had established the show’s foundations, we felt music would have to play a key part in it. This way, it would be a counterpoint to the suffocating atmosphere that Dom Juan’s illness, paired with the unity of place and the feeling of tropical mugginess, bring on what should still be a comedy. We quickly thought of a ‘Dom Juan orchestra’. Denis Albert, Pascal Rinaldi and Romaine joined the team in the first rehearsals, and with them our long-standing collaborator Jean-Luc Therminarias who is in charge of the sonic world of the show.

With this little orchestra came two questions that will preoccupy us throughout our collective creative rehearsal process: how can we integrate it to the dramatic action? How will it connect with Jean-Luc Therminarias’ work?

We know we’ll have to be patient, inventive and attentive, so that this double transplant can work.

The three musicians are evidently talented, their songs and arrangements are pertinent, but in the first rehearsals they were “off track” in two ways. They were in the margins of Molière’s Dom Juan dramatic action since they have no influence over it, which means they ran the risk of only being here for atmosphere, hired by the master of the house to occasionally entertain him. They didn’t connect either with the soundscapes that Jean-Luc Therminarias develops little by little, the way he usually does, in harmony with the set design and the show’s overall atmosphere.

The musicians asked themselves whether they should react to what was happening on stage, or just wait for Dom Juan to ask them to play. Jean-Luc Therminarias worried about how to add the orchestra to the sonic universe he was busy fine-tuning.

The first breakthrough happened on stage. The answer to the musicians’ question was clear: they couldn’t just stay in the corner and play music, they had to fully enter Dom Juan’s palace as well as the dramatic action.

A key point for this will be their entrance. They won’t just be in the background, they aren’t just “onstage musicians”. They are characters: the play starts without them and while Dom Juan hires them, Sganarelle happily welcomes them. They settle, discover the palace, the strange characters that follow one another in it and the mysteries that are about to take place… Quickly, it becomes clear that despite the fee they were promised, they would rather not be here! They now have to witness the master of the house’s eccentricities and play along to them…

In a way, they recreate and develop, in the shape of a little ceremonial orchestra, the cohort of servants that, in Molière’s play, surround Dom Juan and Sganarelle (Ragotin, la Violette, and more anonymously, the entourage). They are witnesses and involuntary participants of a drama that completely goes over their heads. The costumes they will wear will go in this direction too, which will help them go deeper.

Once freed from the constraints of being just instrumentalists and singers, the musicians start to take part in the stage action which provokes a fascinating shift. The ‘Dom Juan orchestra’ develops an increasingly intense relationship with Sganarelle. They are less efficient than beautiful women when it comes to relieving the master’s soul, but the band is a breath of fresh air for Dom Juan’s servant. We see how, little by little, Steve Tientcheu finds in the band a salutary counterpoint that balances out the tragic dimension of Gramblanc’s face to face with Death.

The musicians have in fact solved a classic circus equation. While Sganarelle is the auguste of Dom Juan’s white clown, the band becomes a complementary quirky partner that Sganarelle makes perfect use of, they operate like a contra-auguste. While this part isn’t in Molière’s play, it was necessary for our show: we realised this during rehearsals when we saw it appear as this band of three amusing musicians…

While Lorenzo Malaguerra encourages and orchestrates how actors and musicians meet on stage, Jean-Luc Therminarias works on an organic sonic atmosphere.

As he usually does, Jean-Luc Therminarias will use for Dom Juan sonic layers that amplify the show’s dramatic and stage challenges. Mysterious sounds (birds, mammals?) strengthen the tropical atmosphere that emanates from the set, and mysterious growls neatly evoke the feeling that death is prowling, like a sonic foreshadowing of the statue.

He has also set up a field of microphones on stage to collect, transform and play sounds taken from the live stage action. What comes out of this is a disquieting theatricality, as if everything in the palace was amplified, multiplied, made incandescent. It becomes a sort of baroque iridescence of the show’s sonic world that echoes the strongly contrasting materials and colours used in the set design (by Jean Lambert-wild and Stéphane Blanquet) as well as in the lighting design (by Renaud Lagier).

Jean-Luc Therminarias answers his own questions on how coherent the sonic universe can be: together with the musicians, he creates new arrangements, modifying the way their pieces are amplified so as to put the band in a continuum where instruments and voices echo Molière’s words, noises collected on stage, and sounds created for the show. A multi-dimensional apparatus is built in front on our very eyes, allowing Jean-Luc Therminarias to, as usual, intervene directly during each performance, augmenting their intensity.




Having read the plethora of different literary, theatrical and whimsical versions of the myth of Dom Juan, Jean Lambert...