Dominique Blanc and Pain, by Duras | Survive, she said

Fascinating interpreter of Phèdre and the classics, muse of Patrice Chéreau in cinema and theater, Dominique Blanc is performing for the first time in her career in Montreal. The Press went to meet him Thursday afternoon at his downtown hotel.

Dominique Blanc is in town to play Pain, by Marguerite Duras, a solo show that she has been performing throughout Europe for 16 years. The prize-winning member of the Comédie-Française is a monument to the pantheon of performers in France. It’s a great visit! Unfortunately, the show is sold out, but we can put our name on a waiting list at Usine C.

Written between 1945 and 1949, in small notebooks that Duras forgot… and found 40 years later, to rework them, Pain tells the story of a woman, “M”, who waits alone at home, in Paris under the Occupation, for the return of her husband, a prisoner in the Dachau camp during the war.

“It’s a work about waiting, that of women abandoned by wars,” explains the actress. It is a work from the end of his life. Duras’ writing is precise, without any complacency or affect. The style is harsh, nervous, violent, almost animal. »

And yet, Dominique Blanc almost never played Pain At the beginning of the 2000s, the actress went through a period where she was very lost.

I have been without work for a long time. I had no offers in theater, cinema or television. And I had quite serious depression, I was treated in hospital… I thought I would no longer be able to go on set. So, I called Patrice…

Dominique Blanc

Patrice Chéreau organizes readings of texts with the actress and Thierry Thieû Niang. The latter, a Duras specialist, brings Pain… “We immediately agreed to adapt it for the theater. This text saved me and I hope to pick it up every four or five years. I would like to play Pain until the end of my life. »


Dominique Blanc believes that Duras would not have liked to see Pain at the theater (Chéreau had the rights from the writer’s son, after his death in 1996): “In his diary, the author Lars Norén recounts that a director friend went to see Duras at her home, rue Saint- Benoît, to ask him for the rights. She replied sharply: “No, no, no! It’s impossible ! Besides, I didn’t write this text; he came out of me like a fetus.” So, he went back to Sweden, sheepish” (laughs).

Dominique Blanc is the illustration that perseverance always pays off in the end. “As a teenager, I didn’t have confidence in myself,” she says, when asked about her start in the industry.

I was refused four times at the Conservatory and in schools. I failed all my exams and auditions.

Dominique Blanc

However, today, the actress from the Comédie-Française is the only actress to have won four Césars and four Molières in her career! “You must never give up,” she said, “never give up on your dreams. After a failure, there is often a little voice inside that says to try again. It is this voice that we must listen to. Not the others. »

A destiny named Chéreau

There is perseverance, but also luck. In his case, that of meeting a certain Patrice Chéreau in Villeurbanne, in 1980. “At the time, I had no career, no agent. I did outdoor traveling theater. But Patrice agreed to meet me. A few days later, he left me a message on my answering machine offering me small roles in Peer Gynt. I still have the tape at home…”

Dominique Blanc had a beautiful and fruitful collaboration with the man of the theater, who died in 2013 of devastating cancer, at the age of 68. “It’s rare to meet a wonderful person like Patrice Chéreau,” she said. I think of him almost every day. We shared the same vision of play, of creation. Each role is a never-ending project. »

For the two accomplices, theater is a sacred, essential art: “It is the last place of intelligence and sharing,” she says. A place where an audience of all ages and origins can meet to enjoy a common experience together. Human. But the theater is threatened, obviously.

— Threatened by what?

— By technology, screens, artificial intelligence. All these things. »

“Pain is implanted in hope,” writes Duras. The theater will survive.

The work of Dominique Blanc, Construction sites, I, is published by Actes Sud (Le temps du théâtre collection). The room Pain is presented until March 10, at Usine C.

Consult the part page


Excerpt from the piece Pain, by Marguerite Duras

Who is Dominique Blanc?

Born in 1956 in Lyon, the actress is the winner of four Molières and four Césars. Under the direction of director Patrice Chéreau, she plays Phaedra, Screensand at the cinema Queen Margot, Those who love me will take the train.

She has collaborated with the greatest filmmakers and directors in Europe, such as Luc Bondy, Claude Chabrol, Jean-Pierre Vincent, Antoine Vitez, Claude Sautet, Louis Malle, James Ivory and Peter Sellars (at the opera).

Mme Blanc is a member of the Comédie-Française. She is an officer of the Legion of Honor and Commander of the Order of Arts and Letters.


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