# 11 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.



This show is a project that calls for powerful aesthetic choices, for a set that amplifies what is at stake in what we want to tackle. Depicting the locations implied in Molière’s play or in other versions of the story would not be enough. What the set should communicate to the audience is the suffocating deathly tropical environment we chose to immerse Dom Juan and the myth’s other protagonists in. The set also needs to show our ‘great lord become an evil man’’s aristocratic, elegant, luxurious yet moribund tastes.

This is why we thought of layering motley elements and symbols. Of the original Dom Juan, Jean Lambert-wild chose to keep the palace, in other words, the Master’s abode, but also a forest (in which Molière’s Act II takes place), although in our version, that forest is more like a jungle.

These two elements of set design are not just used to show locations, they also serve our reading of the play and make it tangible.

Eaten away by the forest in a way fire would have, almost entirely collapsed, Dom Juan’s palace turns into ruins that the forest nibbles on, just like its disease-consumed owner. The rubble retains traces of its past splendour. This is represented evocatively and vertically by an improbable staircase made of Limoges porcelain. One catches oneself imagining that there was a time when the staircase led to the Heavens that are so often mentioned in the play…

As for the forest, it is not naturalistic. Instead, conceived by Stéphane Blanquet and made of Aubusson tapestry, it is baroque, psychedelic, evocative. The technical prowess that went into making it is undeniable (a 190 square meter wall covering made on a double digital loom). It also allows the unlikely combination of the rich tapestries one could expect to find in Dom Juan’s palace, and the jungle that, in our adaptation, surrounds and grips him. What is inside, and what is outside? Which part is nature, which part is nurture? Where are the boundaries?... Sensitively, the set design echoes some of the essential questions of the play.

The set gives materiality to death, it evokes an aristocracy on the verge of the abyss, nature reclaiming what it is owed, a sense of disappearing verticality. On the other hand, it provides lavish surroundings where Gramblanc can give free rein to his antics and his mood swings.

Another property of Aubusson tapestry is how its almost magical texture react to lights. Our lighting designer Renaud Lagier took great delight in playing with colour changes that revealed unsuspected outlines, radically changed colours or our sense of the fabric, creating a world at the crossroads of dreams, comic books and the situations evoked by Molière.

We added another layer: Jean-Luc Therminarias’ daily reinvented soundscapes. They too are palpable and labyrinthine, a mixture of birdsong, the modified calls of different animals, synthetic sonic layers, noises taken from reality but made unrecognisable, or barely perceptible evocative sounds.

Both the actors and the audience are immersed into a changing, troubling and playful world. It is oppressive yet always changing, a world in which everything seems both alive yet continually threatened with extinction.

This design, co-created by Jean Lambert-wild and Stéphane Blanquet, gives the myth a dream-like dimension that the many decorative elements made of Limoges porcelain magnify. These were made thanks to our renewed artistic collaboration with porcelain artist Christian Couty, Les Porcelaines de la Fabrique, Esprit Porcelaine and the support of non-profit organisation L’Union. This remains a first in theatre history since the set, inspired by Baroque theatre’s use of perspective, organised around curtains and painted friezes, is made of digitally-woven Aubusson tapestries, thanks to an exceptional partnership with the Néolice tapestry workshops.



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