The choreographer and director Gisèle Vienne is an artist who likes to swim in deep, strange waters. Her work hunts down the abnormal and the uncanny in the human condition, with a taste for the transgressive that leads Vienne to take great care in choosing which writers she stages. Robert Walser, an author whose work plays on subtle ambiguities, is a writer she knows well. L’Étang (The Pond) is his play about the disturbed relationship between a young boy and his mother, in which the teenage Fritz, thinking himself unloved, fakes a suicide attempt to manipulate and regain his mother’s affection. In Vienne’s interpretation, two women – the exceptional Adèle Haenel and Ruth Vega Fernandez – take up this subversive story, drawing out the ambiguities, the things unsaid, the subtexts. The result is a deliberately disturbing performance that connects the fictional relationship described by Robert Walser to the real one of the two women on stage in a dizzying mise en abyme.
An associate artist at TNB, Gisèle Vienne restaged her piece Kindertotenlieder for TNB Festival 2017, presented Crowd at the venue in 2018, and played Jerk during TNB Festival 2019.