Returning to Reims
based on »Retour à Reims« by Didier Eribon
in a version by the Schaubühne
Direction: Thomas Ostermeier
A sound studio. An actress is recording a text. At the mixing desk a director is giving her instructions. Together they are working on the voice recording for a film which is running synchronously in the background. It is a documentary essay called »Returning to Reims« – a cinematic adaptation of the eponymous book by French sociologist Didier Eribon. The protagonist of the film is the author himself who goes on a type of journey of reminiscence. With a mixture of personal confession and sociological analysis, Eribon reports on the re-encounter with his hometown and his family which, since his career as an intellectual in Paris, he has hardly seen for decades, and has had no desire to see. In his confrontation with his own past, Eribon also comes up against the blind spots in contemporary society: the brutal exclusion mechanisms at work in the very same middle-classes to which he now belongs and the reality of a previously communist working-class which, forgotten and disenfranchised, is now running into the right-wing populist arms of the Front National. How can things have come to this? How much is the left-wing to blame, how much Eribon himself who, as an intellectual, has renounced his past? And what are the solutions? These are all questions Eribon pursues in his film as he goes on a search for clues in Reims. They are questions which also continue to trouble the director and actress during their process of finishing the film – and which ultimately lead to a conflict which puts what was considered to be a completed project to the test and simultaneously exposes hidden aspects of the protagonists’ personal biographies.
With »Returning to Reims« Thomas Ostermeier is bringing to the stage for the first time in the German language Didier Eribon’s text which, since its publication, has become a key work in the understanding of contemporary society.
>>> Essay about the production in Pearson's Preview: Class Traitors. Didier Eribon and Thomas Ostermeier's »Returning to Reims«
Commissioned by the Schaubühne Berlin and Manchester International Festival.
Produced by the Schaubühne Berlin, Manchester International Festival, HOME, Manchester and Théâtre de la Ville.
Direction: Thomas Ostermeier
Set and Costume Design: Nina Wetzel
Collaboration Set Design: Doreen Back
Music: Nils Ostendorf
Sound Design: Jochen Jezussek
Dramaturgy: Florian Borchmeyer, Maja Zade
Lighting Design: Erich Schneider
Film Direction: Sébastien Dupouey, Thomas Ostermeier
Camera: Sébastien Dupouey, Marcus Lenz, Marie Sanchez
Film Editing: Sébastien Dupouey
Original Soundtrack Film: Peter Carstens, Robert Nabholz
Archival Research Film: Laure Comte, BAGAGE (Sonja Heitman, Uschi Feldges)
Video Technics FIlm: Jake Witlen, Sabrina Brückner
Production Film: Stefan Nagel / Annette Poehlmann
Duration: ca. 120 minutes
Premiered on 24 September 2017