Gisèle Vienne

L’Étang (The Pond)
by Robert Walser

Drawing on dance, music and theatre, director and choreographer Gisèle Vienne has been building her own, atmospheric world, noted for its strong visual elements, for the past 20 years. She was first introduced to the Greek audience in 2018 with the performance Crowd, a piece about the dark relationship between the personal and the collective sentiment. This year, she will present the riveting L’Étang at the Festival, a piece that had its premiere in 2021 at the Théâtre de Vidy-Lausanne in Switzerland and is based on Robert Walser’s short play Der Teich (German for The Pond), tackling a dysfunctional family environment.

A boy, feeling rejected by his family, desperately fakes his own death, supposedly drowning in a lake. Vienne creates a powerful psychological drama, shedding light to Walser’s disturbing insinuations about child abuse, incest and family trauma. Vienne’s two performers, sharing 10 roles on stage, the hypnotic lighting and the minimal electronic music by Stephen O’Malley bring to the surface repressed urges and pent-up emotions. The self is scattered amidst all the pain. Every sentence is shrouded in doubt. Were all these things truly narrated or was it just a dream? While Walser’s text offers a sliver of hope for reconciliation, there is no happy ending in Vienne’s world. The trauma is too deep.

Having studied music, philosophy and puppetry, Gisèle Vienne, born in France in 1976, founded her own dance company in 1999. Since then, she has created a total of 11 performances and 7 productions in collaboration with Etienne Bideau-Rey, presented all around Europe, Asia and America.