A Girls Story
by Annie Ernaux
Director: Sarah Kohm
Translated from French by Sonja Finck
At the age of 17, the young Annie spends a summer working in a children’s holiday camp on the northern coast of France. Far from the provincial Catholic environs of her home village and her parents’ grocery shop, she hopes to fulfil her dreams of love. Her first sexual encounter with her supervisor H, who is five years older, is an unexpectedly violent one – yet Annie makes every conceivable effort to reframe this experience as a passionate love affair. She counters H’s overt disinterest in her with an ecstatic attempt to satisfy her lust for him in the bodies of others. Derision and humiliation by her peers and H himself ensue, but this does not deter her from focusing her entire existence on him. Even though the euphoric and partying Anne perceives the summer of 1958 as the time of her life, the abuses find an immediate physical expression: for years, she is plagued by menstrual disruption and eating dis- orders. It is only much later, by writing the »Story«, that Ernaux acknowledges these events as experiences of sexual and verbal violence.
»A Girl’s Story« is the search undertaken by Annie Ernaux, who was 76 at the time of publication, for her own past. She recalls the girl from back then whilst writing and recognises herself anew through the process, revealing a deep-seated connection between female desire and the patriarchal subordination of women’s bodies. Working with actress Veronika Bachfischer, Sarah Kohm explores this connection, which has only seemingly been overcome, in an intense monologue. Is Annie’s story constantly repeated over generations? Is it possible to develop a language and narrative for female desire that unfolds beyond the male gaze? »A Girl’s Story« explores this possibility – using the gaze of the audience resting on the body of an actress as its starting point.
Author Annie Ernaux was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in October 2022.
The performance addresses sexualized violence as well as eating disorders.
With: Veronika Bachfischer
Duration: ca. 90 minutes
Premiered on 9 April 2022