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Nicolaï Erdman: The Suicide, soviet vaudeville 12

Nicolaï Erdman: The Suicide, soviet vaudeville

Théâtre National Populaire, Villeurbanne, France

Director: Jean Bellorini

Performed in French with Hungarian and English subtitles

2 hours 15 minutes.

Soviet Union, late 1920s. In the middle of the night, Semione  Semionovitch, unemployed and miserable, tries to relieve his hunger by swallowing a liver sausage. He wakes up his wife, an argument breaks out and the pitiful hero disappears, threatening "his last breath".  Semionovitch’s wife, convinced that he will end his life, calls for help.  The news spreads, attracting the neighbourhood and soon a whole  gallery of characters intrude upon the unfortunate event. Thoughts of  posthumous glory overtake Semionovitch, prompting the thought: by  killing himself, could he finally become someone? Written against the crossroads of the twenties and thirties, the play  was banned before it could be performed. Victim of the authoritarian  and repressive policies of the Soviet government, Nicolaï Erdman  was arrested, shortly after writing The Suicide, for having signed a  short satirical poem about Stalin. His two plays (The Mandate and  The Suicide) were definitly banned. He was sent for three years to  deportation and then placed under house arrest. He never resumed his  career as a playwright, keeping within him "an eternal fear". This is a  feeling that the "hero" of The Suicide, Semyonovich, is imbued with. An  empty shell, a mediocre and insignificant being, Semyonovich seems to  take on a life of his own only by the interested eyes of the others. On  the threshold of his death, he is finally by a breath of life – a terrible,  suspended whisper.  Tick, tock. In the satirical tradition of Gogol, Nicolaï Erdman here summons  people, notables, ecclesiastics, shopkeepers who persist in finding  meaning in their lives, even though all their previous reference points  have been destroyed. In this and asphyxiated society, a simple lie can  reveal a chain of impostures until the final explosion. Nicolaï Erdman's text continues to resound with force, so much so  that it contains a virulent critique of all oppressive political regimes  and a biting reflection on the meaning of existence. The story of this  pathetic little man who struggles in the chaos challenges our times,  our desires, our resignations. How to resist oppression without being a  hero? Jean Bellorini and his troupe of actors, singers and musicians  venture into this political farce that is as juicy as it is chilling, with a relentless mechanic and a vaudeville feel. The choral work, the  musicians, and the costumes designed by Macha Makeïeff bring out the  humour and madness of a score that moves at the unbridled rhythm  of André Markowicz's translation. And finally, when the sets and masks  fall, the theatre remains, an immense declaration of love to life.


François Deblock, 
Mathieu Delmonté, 
Clément Durand, 
Anke Engelsmann, 
Gérôme Ferchaud, 
Jacques Hadjaje, 
Clara Mayer, 
Liza Alegria Ndikita, 
Marc Plas, 
Antoine Raffalli,
Matthieu Tune, 
Julien Gaspar-Oliveri, 
Damien Zanoly

Musicians: Anthony Caillet, Marion Chiron, Benoît Prisset

Stage designer: Véronique Chazal, Jean Bellorini
Costume designer: Macha Makeïeff assisted by Laura Garnier
Dramaturge: Melodie-Amy Wallet
Composer: Sébastien Trouvé


Jean Bellorini

Main Stage
Jean Bellorini

Jean Bellorini

Director Jean Bellorini works with great dramatic and literary texts. His productions closely combine theatre and music. Among other achievements, he adapted Victor Hugo's novel Les Misérables for the stage under the title Tempête sous un crâne (Tempest in a Skull), and directed Paroles Gelées (Frozen Words) based on Rabelais (which won him the Molière Prize for best direction). His other outstanding directions include Bertolt Brecht's The Good Person of Szechwan (Molière Prize for best public theatre production), Ferenc Molnár's Liliom, and Dostoyevsky's The Brothers Karamazov (for the 2016 Avignon Festival). In 2014, he was appointed Director of Saint-Denis’s Théâtre Gérard Philipe Centre Dramatique National where he presented Un instant (A Moment) based on Proust, and Onegin based on Pushkin. He has established a company of teenagers (Troupe éphémère) with which he creates a production each season. He is regularly active in the opera genre and has worked extensively abroad. He has collaborated with the Berliner Ensemble and St Petersburg’s Alexandrinsky Theatre, and will present Il Tartufo with Teatro di Napoli in spring 2022. Since 2020, he has been Director of the prestigious TNP (Théâtre National Populaire). His production of Valère Novarina's Le Jeu des Ombres was presented during the 2020 Avignon Art Week (Semaine d’art).

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