Thierry Fournier’s Seul Richard and the Aesthetic of Dissemination

Charlotte Desaint – Rachell Vâlcu, 2010

Université d’Avignon et des Pays de Vaucluse
Domaine Arts, Lettres, Langues
Master Identités des Cultures Anglophones et Traduction
Séminaire « From Page to Stage », Florence March

Thus play I in one person many people, And none contented: sometimes am I king; (…) And straight am nothing” (1)

Slipping from King to “nothing” was the tragedy of Shakespeare’s Richard II and it became one of the concerns of Thierry Fournier when he decided to adapt the much renowned history play, releasing himself from conventions and refreshing a little the play that Jean Vilar chose for the first “Semaine d’Art” in 1947.
Thierry Fournier works as a visual artist, and is also a musician and a composer; his work is “multidisciplinary” as he mixes plastic arts and scenic creation and performance.2 He became much interested in Richard II because the play dealt with such topics as the representation of power or the dialectic between the individual and the community. In his adaptation of the play entitled Seul Richard, he found new ways to express the solitude of the Fallen King, the interaction between the world and the character, the impossibility for Richard to cope with it and the tremendous power the latter has over his own little universe. In order to do so, Fournier put at the heart of his adaptation the notion of “diffraction”, that is fragmentation at many levels, explosion, dissemination, and . As a matter of fact, one important aspect of the play is dissemination and in that specific art creation it constitutes a remedy against theatrical “illusionism” by allowing a multitude of visions and of opportunities in the perception of the reality of the action. To what extent the aesthetic of dissemination offers a reflection upon the crisis of representation(s) in Seul Richard by Thierry Fournier ?

Firstly, the dissemination of the senses, especially with the visual dimension and the sound dimension, and secondly the dissemination of the theatrical action, spatially and temporally offer a whole new way of apprehending the notion of “representation” ; a third part will be dedicated to the dissemination of the tragic character together with the representation of power and eventually we’ll deal with the explosion of the norms in Seul Richard, an innovative adaptation.

Dissemination of the senses

Seul Richard is the play of dissemination par excellence and Thierry Fournier seems to play upon scattering about, spreading widely, bursting, and diffracting, which are important aspects of Fournier’s innovative play. This first part, dissemination of the senses, will focus on the visual and the sound dissemination, suggesting a multitude of visions and of opportunities of perception.

Visual dissemination

Thanks to visual disseminations, an interesting dialogue between professionals on stage and amateurs on the screen is created, taking part in the difficulty to represent, as well as to adapt a play: the look of the spectator is called to several different places at the same time, both on the cinematic screen and on stage. The King on one side, and the other characters on the other, all underline the different