Marguerite Duras’ story on stage

A French play adapted from the work of a complex author comes to the city

October 19, 2018 02:48 pm | Updated 02:48 pm IST

Maud Andrieux

Maud Andrieux

Even to those who have spent years studying her work, Marguerite Duras is not an easy figure to decipher. The filmmaker, novelist and playwright, who was born in the early 20th century in present-day Vietnam (then French IndoChina), presented her thoughts in extremely nuanced, complex, and sometimes even contradictory ways.

More than 20 years after her death, Duras remains a strong influence for fellow French thespian, Maud Andrieux (37) who will perform her solo show, entitled L’Amant (The Lover), at Alliance Française.

Adapted from two of her seminal novels, L’Amant (1984) and L’Amant de la Chine du Nord (1991), the play will recount Duras’ semi-autobiographical story about a taboo love affair between a young French girl and an older, Chinese-Vietnamese man.

Deep dive

The adaptation, Andrieux reveals, was no easy task. “I read the novels many times, highlighting the passages that were the most moving, poetic and cinematographic,” she reveals. Yet, the actor was convinced that the story would work for the stage. “The musicality of her writing and the imagery of her descriptions all make sense when spoken aloud. What is difficult for some people is her freedom of expression that awakens the senses and speaks to the deepest self.”

After working on her adaptation for over two years and staging it in Bordeaux for the first time, Andrieux — who performed Duras’ other works on a trip to India in 2014 — brings her show to six Indian cities. The play, staged in French with English subtitles, will, she believes, resonate with the audience. “The text is universal, and I hope it will touch the Indian public,” she says, going on to add: “Performing this show in India will give Duras a great boost.” For Andrieux, the pleasure of performing in new environments stems from her desire to “confront very different audiences and other ways of doing theatre -- to be the witnesses of their time and lives”.

Looking forward

Bruno Plasse, less than a month old in his new role as executive director of the Alliance Française of Madras sees the production as an important part of the centre’s cultural programming. “Duras is very special,” he says, adding diversity to a calendar of events that includes a Kathakali performance inspired by Shakespeare’s King Lear (in December).

The solo show, which will run for 90 minutes, will be accompanied by original background music by Marco Gomes. “The idea is to create a poetic and profound ambiance, through the emotion of the words, silence and intuition,” says the musician about his compositions.

L’Amant will be staged at the Alliance Française of Madras on October 25 at 7.30 pm. Free passes are available on

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