premieres from 07 to 18/11/23 at the Rideau (Brussels) and from 05 to 09/12/23 at the Jean Vilar (Louvain-la-Neuve)

“It’s not us who age, it’s time that ages. It ages even faster than we do. Does it know it? but it seems to be in a hurry to come to an end. We’ll die infinitely young anyway. – Jean Baudrillard

Plunging into the flesh of a 74-year-old woman like entering a forest. Wandering through her physical sensations, her bodily memories, the twists and turns of her memory. To feel the richness and complexity of her existence. To meet Annette.

Some encounters leave a lasting impression. Five years ago, Clémentine met Annette and her relationship with the world changed forever. Deeply human and sensitive, Annette makes the people around her blossom. Indomitable, filled with an insatiable desire to be somewhere else, she always ended up abandoning the roles she was caught up in (mother, wife, woman), not because of any militant or political choice, but because it was impossible for her to do otherwise. Intimately, she just couldn’t do it.

Over the course of many interviews, Annette gives Clémentine more than 70 years of intimate experiences and feelings. How can the gift of this memory be shared in return? By summoning Annette to the stage and weaving her memories into fantasized worlds, this landscape portrait offers a new way of looking at old age, as a new youth and a liberation.

Partly a philosophical exploration, partly a carnival party, partly an intimate account, partly a testament, partly a collective dance, Annette is not so much a biographical account as a tribute to the multitudes that we are, to our metamorphoses and rebirths.

But Annette’s story is not always gentle, defensible or easy to hear. Annette is a woman who has deserted her place as a woman. Who systematically disappointed the expectations that rested on her shoulders as a daughter, companion, mother, lover and old woman. Who one day no longer answered the call. Who repeatedly left. Who left behind her young children, her home, her couples. Who, in the end, in Monique Wittig’s sense, is not “a woman”.

This inability to fit in despite numerous attempts, this ability to gradually detach herself from what is usually accepted by default, and this at a time when alternative narratives are still not widely circulated, give us a vision of a powerful and fascinating woman on an irreducible quest for emancipation. An uncompromising woman who accepts displeasure in order to listen to herself.

This intimacy, eminently political even if she doesn’t name it, is at the heart of this project, which is the story not of Annette but of her body. Of her embodied experience of the world: of her breath, her organs and tissues, her scars, her legs, her nails, her heartbeat. With Annette, I had access to what it was like to feel like a woman, between 1950 and the present day; when, at Catholic boarding school, she had to wash fully clothed so as not to touch her skin; when she saw herself, in front of the model Françoise Hardy, as “a pudding, a tuna, an ugly thing, a pair of big tits”; when, on moving into a flat on the 3rd floor, the arrival of a washing machine “much heavier than a wedding ring : three men to carry it” made her cry for a week; when she had an abortion or suffered repeated miscarriages; when her newborn baby was placed on her stomach and she felt “nothing”; when she became pregnant even though her tubes had just been tied; when she cuddled her son, already a little boy, for the first time; when her new partner gives her “feminine” underwear and the feel of the silk on her body makes her move differently in the street; when, on purpose, she makes love to another woman at the age of 45; when, at the age of 50, she decides to offer herself “time”, a total availability of the present; when the menopause arrives and she fights in the underground; or when her life as a single woman for years no longer allows her access to “tenderness”.

“Annette” is a story of memory, heritage and resistance. It is also a piece of history, the history of Belgium from the post-war period to the present day. Above all, it’s another body to listen to and meet, while the political as well as aesthetic need to work on scenic devices exposing realities other than the dominant one, and other complex singularities in order to inscribe their presence in the performance space, burns as much as the aesthetic need to work on scenic devices exposing realities other than the dominant one, and other complex singularities in order to inscribe their presence in the performance space.

With Annette Baussart, Clémentine Colpin, Pauline Desmarets, Ben Fury, Alex Landa Aguirreche and Olivia Smets
Team Camille Collin (set and costume design), Cinzia Derom (costume ), Sara Vanderieck (dramaturgy), Noé Voisard (sound design), Nora Boulanger Hirsch (lighting design), Anna Teresa Barboza (visuals)
Design and direction Clémentine Colpin
Assistant director Pauline Desmarets
Co-conception and artistic collaboration Olivia Smets
Diffusion Le Rideau

Coproduction Le Rideau, Compagnie Canicule, l’Atelier Théâtre Jean Vilar et La Coop ASBL

Support La Fédération Wallonie-Bruxelles- Direction du Théâtre, le Théâtre des Tanneurs, le Centre des Ecritures Dramatiques Wallonie-Bruxelles, la SACD, la Tour à plomb, le Centre Box120, Charleroi Danse / La Raffinerie, SEN – Studio Etangs Noirs, Shelterprod,, ING et le Tax Shelter du gouvernement fédéral belge.