“Everything here is false, and everything must be handled with extreme gentleness.” Writer and poet Jean Genet did not consider himself a playwright, but he nonetheless used his aggressive writings for the stage to dissect social and literary norms. The above quote condenses the essence of The Balcony (1955), a play he revised obsessively: in it, a luxury brothel becomes an archetype for the world and the theatre. After its premiere last November, Nuno Cardoso brings us now back to this house of illusions, a place “bordering death, where all freedoms are possible”. Across this carefully watched prison-like space move a number of characters who present themselves as figures of power. On the background, a revolution flares up and devastates. “Illusion is the play’s real theme”, according to Genet. Equivocations between what is fake and what is real, the inside and the outside (of the brothel or the scene), are constant, exposing the machinery of power’s farce and its social dynamics. In The Balcony, we are simultaneously voyeurs and characters in a puppet theatre where seeing and being seen are everyone’s priority. Once in a while, this game of mirrors is interrupted by moments of poetic beauty and derision. There, “with integrity and smiling”, as was Genet’s intention, we see ourselves in a ritual, as avatars of our desires.
Union des Théâtres de l'Europe gathered, in the last 3 decades, some of the most important European theatres and artists. Through festivals, exhibitions, exchanges, masterclasses, cooperation projects, the UTE help create a continuous flow between West and East, between generations, between tradition and innovation. Our celebration is inspired by this rich history. With the help of the Interferences International Theatre Festival, we wish to remember some of the best performances presented at past editions of the UTE festival and look forward to new horizons.