Caroline Guiela Nguyen, a “thirst for stories” at the head of the National Theater of Strasbourg

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Strasbourg (AFP) – Passing through the National Theater of Strasbourg (TNS) to present her show “Fraternité, Conte Fantastique”, Caroline Guiela Nguyen talks to AFP about her “thirst for stories” and her projects as the next director of the institution.

“My absolute passion in life is to invent stories and to see them, to visualize them”, confides the 41-year-old artist, between two adjustment sessions before the evening performance.

“That’s why I’ve always worked as a writer and director, I’ve never been an actress. I was quite unhappy when I was inside a story, because I couldn’t see it. Whereas being outside, being able to think it, that’s really what drives me.”

Before “Fraternité, conte Fantastique”, on tour in France and Europe, Caroline Guiela Nguyen has already produced a dozen plays with her company Les Hommes approximatifs, as well as several films and radio creations. With each time a constant: to show or hear stories often absent from theaters.

“There are plenty of people who are not yet on the theater sets. Just as there are languages ​​that I do not hear on the sets, whereas I hear them in my city, in my street, in my daughter’s school. Why?” she asks.

“With Benjamin, my costume designer, we had to dress an actress. We realized that in theater stocks, there are very few sizes above 38. It’s very concrete! What is it tells ?”

“Need to imagine the other”

In 2017, his play “Saigon” had marked the Avignon festival, with his stories of Vietnamese exiles of the first and second generations, a word rarely heard in France, let alone on stage.

“But I’m not ticking boxes when I’m doing a show,” she warns. “Only, if I don’t have the impression of being in contact with the people who populate our time, I’m in an island and that doesn’t interest me”, says the one who was born from a mother. Vietnamese and a Pied-noir father from Algeria.

Actors rehearse a scene from the play “Saigon” by Caroline Guiela Nguyen, July 7, 2017 during the Avignon festival © ANNE-CHRISTINE POUJOULAT / AFP/Archives

“My father left for the Second World War, he liberated Colmar, he came back and there was the Algerian war. My mother, there was the Vietnam war, she left on a boat, she had to hide in cellars. And I grew up quietly in a small village in the south of France, I was completely out of touch with the historical, geographical reality that my parents had experienced,” she reveals. . “But their exiles gave me a thirst for storytelling, a need to imagine the unimaginable, to imagine the other.”

With her already rich theatrical experience, she nevertheless arrives very humble at the head of the TNS, the only national theater in the province, where she will succeed Stanislas Nordey in September. “I’ve never run a place, so I listen a lot to people talking to me about how a house works,” she explains.

“Big School Festival”

Her reserve does not prevent her from nurturing many projects for this institution, which she knows from having studied directing there between 2005 and 2008.

“In the main axes that I want to experiment, the first is the question of diversity, on the sets but also in the rooms”, she explains.

She is also planning a “big school festival”, where artists and high school classes would put on shows together. And to broaden the look, it is already planning partnerships with theaters in Brussels, Liège, Stockholm, Madrid, Milan and Berlin.

As for the TNS school, it wants to be addressed “in a joint theater, cinema and audiovisual way, because it feeds me in a very powerful way, and I also see it in many of my colleagues”. She is considering the possibility of an “association” with the Arte channel.

Happy to find a place that she “rediscovers”, Caroline Guiela Nguyen continues to express her attachment to the theater. “It’s a tool that can allow us to combine a great artistic requirement with concerns about how we make society, how we think about society, and I think it’s beautiful”.

Caroline Guiela Nguyen, a “thirst for stories” at the head of the National Theater of Strasbourg