LE FIGARO. – Why did you choose the theatre to talk about Europe, a topic that you can imagine, difficult to put into scene?
Bernard-Henri LÉVY. – The magic of theatre is that it allows you to talk to people. To an audience, of course. To a crowd. But, at the same time, each spectator, one by one. This experience is irreplaceable. There is nothing like it. After that, there was the question of the staging. Looking for Europe is a real piece of theatre. It is a monologue, but in five acts, rhythmic, with, I believe, a true drama and twists. This is the story of a writer who tries to write a speech on Europe. Many obstacles stand in front of him and then engages a real body-to-body between the author and his discourse, the two characters in the play.
where did you get this need to talk about Europe?
I have three obsessions: I do not want my children to be slaves of the Chinese, I do not want to be subject to Putin, and I want them to be protected against radical islam. In the Face of these threats, I am convinced that the union makes the force. Europe, it will be all together or it will not. I shows, in the text, that only Europe will face this triple challenge.
How did you come up with the title, Looking for Europe ?
In the Greek mythology, Europe is a little princess, who is lost between Turkey and Crete. We don’t know very well where. Rimbaud believed that she drowned in the Mediterranean. Herodotus that it came up in Crete and disappeared. This piece is an investigation to find her. Hiding it behind the face of a young Athenian cross the street? Behind the one of an old lady, met her in Sarajevo? Europe princess Europe, I’m looking for, I am on his track. This is the room.
“Hotel Europe, it was a character, this is really me”
Your previous piece, Europe Hotel in 2014, was worn by the actor Jacques Weber. This time, you are the writer, director and actor. Why have you chosen to mount only one on the boards?
I wanted this room changes from city to city, throughout the tour. I conceived of as a palimpsest, the text is building step after step, each layer covering the previous. Ensure that, in the end, it is about twenty different pieces. And I believe that it would have been very complicated, for an actor, to bow to it, to memorize twenty different versions of the same piece. I would add that, for me, it is also a year of truth. Hotel Europe , it was a character, played by one of the best French actors alive, Jacques Weber. Now, it is really me, this could only be me.
” READ ALSO – Hotel Europe: Bernard-Henri Lévy, Jacques Weber and the workshop of thought
Why adapt your text to the city in which you play?
Because this is Europe! Culture, values, common principles. But that are available in a multitude of languages. Or, if you prefer, in a multitude of imaginaries. The different versions reflect this multitude. The same room, I say to you, but every time another. What adds to my mood. My reading at the moment. The meetings and conversations that I could have the day before. A day with Milan Kundera. Another with Roberto Saviano. And so on.
● The trailer for Looking for Europe, the part of Bernard-Henri Lévy
Your tour ends in Paris only a few days away from the European. Do you consider yourself in the campaign?
of course. I had failed to present a list to the european elections of 1994. It was called “Europe begins in Sarajevo”. I’ve withdrawn at the last minute. The idea to me has again touched the mind, this time. But I think that this is definitely not my thing. Look at what happened this week, Raphael Glucksmann. It has made a declaration on Rwanda and the responsibility of France in the genocide. And now her allies, colistiers, etc, fall here. He has not retracted, of course. Because this is a young man brave and who prefer the truth to his party. But, frankly, what a hell! At least, the theatre I’m quiet. Only one in the scene. Absolute freedom of speech. Zero obligation to stand firmly behind a flag, a school, a party. More question of the question of the right and the left. For the free electron that I am, it is better.
Bernard-Henri Lévy in Barcelona. Yann Revol
In your show, can you imagine your government to the european ideal: Diogenes, Houellebecq, Salman Rushdie, Bartok… Among your ministers, a dream, a lot of writers, composers and philosophers. Do you think that Europe would be better governed with more artists in the equation?
I am convinced, in any case, we should listen more to the voices of the artists. I’m not saying that they need to govern: they are like me, they do not know how to do it! But it is still on the continent of Goethe, of Victor Hugo and Gombrowicz: so, what a pity, yes, that they cannot be heard no more. I’ve always thought that the world would be saved by poets and artists. The piece ends as well.
Your tour ends in Paris. Beyond the fact that you are French, why?
Because it is my country. Because I love it. And because, even when I move away, even when I speak or act among the Kurds, the Ukrainians, or the Libyans, it is the France of Lamartine, André Malraux, André Chénier, Victor Hugo, who inspires me.
“Paris may be the only city where I will not speak of the yellow vests”
For your parisian scene, are you going to inspire the yellow vests?
I talked about it a lot. But, as the tour unfolds, I talk less and less. It is a living text, I repeat it again. And it is true that the yellow vests, as their movement withers and dies, tend to drop back to the text. It is true, you me make think: Paris may be the only city where I don’t speak! Not because it’s Paris. But because the movement, again, is self-devoured.
François Hollande and Nicolas Sarkozy had attended one of the performances of Hotel Europe . Would you like that Emmanuel Macron way?
of course, that would make me happy. There were european accents in his presidential campaign that I found to be extraordinarily courageux. For the first time, a candidate openly european has won the presidential election. For the first time, a candidate has denied the idea, the common place, according to which Europe would be “fleeing” voters.
What is the message you should contact the French electorate on the eve of the vote?
That the question, in this vote, will not be whether it is “right” or “left”. This is to block the road to the liars. To the cheaters. The false love of France, of those who claim to love and put to the trailer of Putin and Steve Bannon.
You are calling for the election of a president of the United States of Europe, which embodies the european institution, would give him a face. If you had free rein, who would you choose for this position?
The president of the United States of Europe ideal would be sufficiently removed from political life to accept out of its own national framework, its choice supporters, but also embody a form of authority, symbolic and moral. It would have taken the Simone Veil of ten years ago. Or Robert Badinter. But there are many other ideas. One thing is for sure: the body politic without a head, it doesn’t work. A political body that people can’t identify, which they can not give face, it is an absurdity, a contradiction in terms. The people feel it, for that matter. It is a big part of the distrust of the Europeans against the gas plant that has become the Europe of today. But it is necessary to go forward and don’t give in to the delight of a slump. Because the alternative to the European Union, this is not “another” Europe, it is hell.
Looking for Europe, at the theatre Antoine, Paris Xe. Monday 20 and Tuesday 21 may at 20: 30.