Allers-Retours

Allers-RetoursThe play we are setting up in the Aula of Collège de Voltaire on May 31 and June 1, Citoyen de nulle part, is based on von Horváth‘s Allers-Retours. The poster on the left is from La Comédie‘s setup of the piece last year (and which also inspired our teacher Denise to pick this play for her students).

Von Horváth was born in Hungary in 1917, and went to Germany to study in his late teens and stayed there until the rise of Nazism pushed him to move to Vienna in 1933. The annexation of Austria (“die Invasion auf der Rote Teppe” as I learned to know it at school) in 1938 prompted him to seek exile in Paris, where he died only a few weeks after his arrival. He was struck by a falling branch from a tree in the Champs-Elysées as he stepped out of a cinema into a thunderstorm.

Bon. At the heart of our play, as for the original, is the following situation (thanks to A Flickering Light for this summary) :

A middle-aged man (Ferdinand Havlicek), born in country A, but having lived in country B since he was 15 days’ old, is expelled by country B following the collapse of his business and his resulting bankruptcy. He is escorted to the border and told to return to A, the country of his birth. He walks across the bridge that connects the two countries, but on arriving at the border control to country A is told (by Constantin) that a law was passed 20 years ago where all nationals who have been living abroad for more than five years and have not returned to register themselves are considered to have renounced their citizenship. Both country A and country B thus consider him a foreigner and he is a citizen of nowhere (citoyen de nulle part). He is destined to wander back and forth across the bridge either until one of the countries relents – or until he dies of hunger.

There are several ideas running in the play: ideas about exile, about bureaucracy, about love. I hope we will be able to develop them enough through our acting.

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