By creating a renewed version of his show Un. Of them. Trois. which will be presented at Duceppe in Montreal and at Trident in Quebec, the playwright Mani Soleymanlou became aware of a more marked dissatisfaction among the performers which shapes the third part of this approach singular.
This piece originates from a solo that Mani Soleymanlou created about ten years ago and which focused on identity. Called Un, the play was based on his personal experience.
Interpelled by this highly successful work, actor Emmanuel Schwartz therefore worked with the was born in Tehran, who lived in Paris, Toronto and Ottawa before settling in Montreal.
From this collaboration sprouted Two. This proposal launched in 2013 was a form of response to the first show. From 'me' we moved to 'we', emphasizing the other and what brings people together.
Finally, Three saw the day the following year with some forty artists to broaden the debate on identity. One. Of them. Three. therefore constitute three shows in one, hence its two intermissions and its length of approximately 4:30 hours.
Across the country
In addition to its particular form, this work is distinguished by the originality of its creation. The third part is based on the opinions of the guest artists.
In this new version, they are 34 Francophones living across the country. We therefore find on stage Acadian, Aboriginal, immigrant, Franco-Ontarian voices, etc.
“I worked upstream with each of them to collect their testimony, says Mani Soleymanlou. The text is signed by me, but it is a collage of what the artists said in videoconference and in rehearsal. It is intimately linked to who they are, but it is not about documentary theatre. It's scripted.”
Since “everyone was involved in the design of this third part”, there is a real authenticity to it, according to him, because the public does not have the impression that these are characters who address themselves to him. Although the words they say are consistent with what they are, these artists still play someone who is not them.
“They embody archetypes of themselves, clichés of themselves”, notes the one who also signs the staging.
Since this proposal puts people in the spotlight of people from all over the country , it is obviously a question of the feeling of marginality felt by Francophones living in a minority setting and their relations with Quebecers.
The “I” prevails
This unique creative process, Mani Soleymanlou had already experienced it twice, for the first version of Trois in 2014, as well as in a later version carried out in France in 2017. Compared to these two experiments, he sensed much more anger in the participants.
“There had stronger emotions, more charged people, more tensions, debates and differing points of view, he notes. It is even heavier than during the French variant which occurred in the period after the Bataclan attacks […]. There is anger.”
According to him, the discourse of participants is more centered on the “I” than on the “we” compared to the exercise carried out in 2014.
“It's much more complicated, because the quest for identity is multiple. It is no longer fair if we are from here or elsewhere. It's related to my religion, my ethnicity, what I eat, my gender, my generation, where I live, etc. Now, we all want to define ourselves.”
“We want so much to be heard, but there is so little listening,” he continues.
Mani Soleymanlou believes that the pandemic has exacerbated this trend by increasing loneliness in particular.
Far from being a disadvantage, these feelings constitute “very rich theatrical material” which allows him to “mess around”.  ;
“I try to entertain, to make it light and ridiculous, because we need to laugh about it and talk about it.”
▶ One. Of them. Trois. is presented from October 20 to 23 at Duceppe, as well as in Quebec City, at Trident, from October 27 to 29.