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Théâtre de l'Epée de Bois, 3 Street Plays: May 1968 (1969)


TDR The Drama Review. 1969-06, nr. 44, pp. 119-122.

Universiteit Antwerpen, Theater- en Filmwetenschap, 2010

Belgium is Happening

3 STREET PLAYS: Paris 1968

The following texts were done by a group called "Action Culturelle," settled at the "Theatre de l'Epée de Bois," which took part in the political life of its immediate neighborhood during the events of Spring '68. The term "Action Culturelle" was used solely to represent the exact opposite of its official meaning. Culture itself is action. These texts do not constitute works of art, they bear witness. They should be read and used without respect, handled and re-written by all who so desire. The theatre was opened to whomever wanted to join, each bringing forward his problems, thoughts, experiences. From this incoherence, themes

and then sketches quickly emerged. These immediately left the theatre for the street.


Mr. Mrs. Radio Students

Mr. and Mrs. are seated side by side. A group of students approaches, singing the end of the "Internationale." They pass, chanting "Worker Power," and "You are all involved."

MR. They are gone, and none too soon. MRS. We've got nothing to do with them. MR. It is not our business . . . It's politics.

MRS. This doesn't concern us. Put some music on.

Photos of the Epee de Bois group taken during the Avignon Festival, July 1968, by Dona Levy.

An actor represents a radio. Mr. turns a button on the actor's shirt.

RADIO. In the Latin Quarter barricades are being built. Police forces are ready to intervene. A group of left-wing students are breaking loose in the streets.

MR. Those students. MRS. Those students. MR. They should be working.




MRS. Right. Everyone in his place. MR. Students shouldstudy. MRS. Workers shouldwork. MR. Teachers should teach.

MRS. And unemployed should remainunemployed.

MR. It'ssoeasytounderstand.

RADIO. Strikes arebeingsetinmotionin all sectors of the French economy. The workers are occupying the factories.

MR. What have they got to do with this?

MRS. Nooneinvitedthem!

RADIO. Asa result of the trucking strike, food stores are in danger of rapidly running out of stock.

MR. Didyougetcoffee? MR S . P l e n t y . MR. Oil? MR S . P l e n t y .

MR . Sugar? MRS. Plenty. MR. Good, we'll be able to stand it. MRS. We'llbeabletostandit.

R ADI O. It has been learned that gas will be sold only to priority card holders: doctors, ambulance attendants, food suppliers, congressmen.

MR. This isbecoming annoying. MRS. Whatwillhappentous? MR. We're cornered like rats. MRS. Butwhatwillhappentous? MR. We're stuck.

MRS. We're stuck. MR. &MRS.We're stuck.

RADIO. Banks are closed. From now on it will be impossible to withdraw money. Checks will not be honored.

MR. It'scrazy.

MR S . F r i g h t e n i n g .

MR. It's chaos.

MRS. Whatwillhappentous?

MR. Anarchyis here.

MRS. What will happen to us? It's anarchy.

MR. It'schaos,whatwillhappentous? MRS. Everything is crumbling.

TOGETHER. What will happen to us? What will happen to us?

RADIO. The Minister of the Interior has announced that, beginning at noon today, gas will be sold without restrictions at Shell and Esso gas stations.

VOICE INTHECROWD. Paratroopers have liberated the port of Gennevilliers.

MR. Good, good. Everything is turning out fine.

MRS. Everything is becoming normal.

MR. Let's gotothecountry, sweetheart.

Mr. and Mrs. stand up and hold hands.

R ADI O. Police forces have invaded the broadcasting centers occupied by strikers.

MR. & MRS. Everything is back to normal. RADIO. Bloody fights in the Jewish and

ArabcommunitiesofBelleville... MR. & MRS. Everything is back to normal.

Let's go to the country. RADIO. General Salan has been released.

MR. & MRS. Everything is back to normal!

R ADI O. A billposter has been clubbed to death byarightist group.

MR. &MRS.Everything'sbacktonormal! R ADI O. Last weekend, highways tolled

142 dead, 546 injured. MR. & MRS. Everything's normal! Everything's normal! The actors turn and face the audience:



A B Radio Student

A and B enter and speak to the audience, striking an appropriate pose for each speech.

A. My name is Antoine Dubois.

B. Mine is André Duval.

RADIO. All demonstrations will be severely repressed. Force must belong to the Law.

A. I love my wife very much.

B. I love my mistress.

A. I adore my children.

B. I collect butterflies.

RADIO. Alldemonstrations will be severely repressed. Force must belong to the Law.

A. I am in the Compagnie Républicaine de Sécurité!

B. I am Gardien de la Paix. RADIO. AU demonstrations will be severely repressed. Force must belong to the Law. A. I take my working tools. B. I take my stick. A. I leave my house.

B. I go to work.

They have taken their police clubs (rolled papers) and left the house. They go to the center of the stage.

RADIO. Alldemonstrations will be severely repressed. Force must belong to the Law.

A student casually passes, dragging his feet. A. Move along! B. Move along! The student stops.

A. Keep moving! B. Come on, kid, move it! A. Keep moving! B. We told you to move on! The student wants to speak, to explain.

RADIO. All demonstrations will be severely repressed. Force must belong to the Law.

A. O.K., that's enough! Keep moving! B. Move along! A. Move along! Move along! B. Move along!

Suddenly the two erupt and start beating the student.

A. Garbage! B. Smut! A. Scoundrel! B. Mad dog!

They beat the student until he collapses. The two policemen turn around and go back home.

A. I am going back home. B. I am going home. A. Ikissmywife. B. I fondle my mistress. A. Iamgoingtobed.

B. I am going to sleep. A. Hard day! B. Lousy job! RADIO. Force must belong to the Law.

The student gets up, goes to a table where a girl is painting a poster. He takes the texts she is copying and reads aloud.

STUDENT. Ten years of silence, Ten years of arbitrariness,

Ten years of loneliness, Ten years of boredom, THAT'S ENOUGH! W e want Free Speech! We wantResponsibility! W e want Solidarity! We want Life!

takes the poster and mingles

The student with the audience, leading them in the chant:




At the Polls: Electoral OpéraL'EPEE DEBOIS


Silence. The beat resumes.

1. A t least we're not confused. W e know which way to vote.

2. Hum! Hum! Hum! Hum! Hum! 1. What's the matter? 2. I'm thinking.

1. I think too many people think in this country. Where does it get us? T o factories being occupied, orgies at the Sorbonne, barricades, chaos. That says it: Frenchmen think too much. But we'll soon change all that.

Copl Cop 2 Radio


Crash of cymbals.

VOICE. Vote!

A constant, monotonous beat begins. The speeches of the two characters follow and maintain this rhythm throughout.

1. H i Dubois. 2. Hello Duval. 1. So, you're going to vote?

2. Of course, one must do one's electoral duty. One may be a C.R.S.1 but one is a Frenchman first.

1. Very true. One may be a Frenchman, but we are C.R.S. above all.

VOICE. Vote! 2. Avanti!

They take a step forward... cymbals crash .. .they stop.

The beat resumes.

1. This will be a great victory.

2. You know, I'll be retired in six months.

1. Too bad for you. If everything goes the way I see it, we'll have fun.

2. I've had enough! Twenty-five years of service: Martinique, Madagascar, Indo-China, Algeria, Charonne, Rue Gay-Lussac, I've had my fill.

1. Vm just starting, just in the nick.

VOICE. Vote!

2. Avanti!

They take a step forward... cymbals... they stop.

VOICE. Vote! 2. Avanti!

They take a step forward... they stops


The beat resumes.

1. What're you thinking of?


1 C.R.S.—Compagnie Républicaine curité, a police tactical squad.—ed.

de Sé-

2. I am the one who arrested Salan2 and now he's out of the hole.

1. That's a good sign. You'll see the whole bunch joining us. We'll all be reunited to defend the Republic. W e are going to eat the reds.

2. I'm not hungry any more. VOICE. Vote! 2. Avanti! They take a step... cymbals... they stop. Silence.

The beat resumes. 1. I love the new regime being set up. 2. It worries me.

1. Why? Our job'U be easier. N o complications. We'll be able to smash anyone who is not military, C.R.S., civil guards, cops, policemen. All the civilians!

2. That's exactly what worries me! 1. Why? 2. In six months I'll be a civilian. VOICE. Vote!

Cymbals crash. 2 General Salan was one of the rightist generals involved in the "putsch" of 1961— ed.