Amelie Blaustein Niddam
Marta Górnicka and Emile Rousset, two versions of the group at the “La Villette Theatre”, 19.03.2015

(…) Marta Górnicka’s new production offers us an experience in soundpainting, this time concerning women’s issues in Poland: what it is like to be a woman in a conservative country, “a country that is so Catholic that the atheists behave like Catholics”. There are 26 of them, bridging all generations. This group is a chorus: voices singing, speaking, chanting, repeating, and shouting about how being considered a minority is an aberration. The church and family are given a good dressing-down, and our first reaction is to put some distance between them and us. However, things are hardly any better in France in 2015: women earn less than men in the same jobs, and it is mothers who rush to pick up the kids from the nursery.

The stage is as steep as a long descent into hell. The auditorium remains lit, so that the mistress of ceremonies can conduct her orchestra. The voices are not as one; they advance in subgroups, and the visual force of the spectacle is both effective and liberating. Górnicka touches on current themes in a gesture which appropriates the conventions of tragedy. These Polish women appear to have been offered just two options: Woman or Virgin. But in real- ity, under the guise of freedom, that is still the only valid choice all across Europe. Magnificat appropriates Christian con- ventions, but the narrative it presents could also apply to Paris, here and now.

They say “NO!” with a shout that never deafens, but goes straight to the heart. This is followed by something that one never sees in theatre auditoria:the audience – i.e. a group par excellence; a group comprised of strangers – reacts like a single person. As they leave the auditorium, their individuality is reborn, and words go into circulation. Questions flash across this battle which aims to stop women from being considered inferior to men. A battle which would seem to be lost in advance, despite the progress made by our elders.

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