Alex Blaze

Le bruit du silence; Notes from the Parisian Gay and Lesbian Theater Festival

Filed By Alex Blaze | April 26, 2009 2:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Entertainment
Tags: Bruno Gallisa, Florence Kleinbort, France, HIV/AIDS, le bruit de silence, paris, theater

Le bruit du silenceaffiche-bruit-du-silence.jpg (The Sound of the Silence) follows the story of a seropositive man who pushes his way into a two-person play with an actress/playwright named Carole who just lost her brother to AIDS. Her play is a composite of writings and phone calls and monologues about her relationship to her brother, and is a way to help herself come to understand why he never told her about his having HIV/AIDS and to accept his loss.

The play-within-a-play structure avoids many of the standard tropes of that framing with its honesty about the industry and the fact that the fictional play doesn't happen. Many of the monologues get preachy, but preachy in the good way because they don't depart at all from where the characters are and the story and characters remains the focus of the entire piece.

One of the parts that stood out to me was Carole's (Florence Kleinbort) explanation about why such a play is a difficult sell. Theaters don't want to take on something that's sad, about a disease of a particular group of people, something meant to be difficult, something without music, fancy costumes, big stars, easy humor... because they don't think that they'll be able to sell tickets for it. It was apropos considering how, as she spoke, I looked around the theater and counted only two people who may have paid for their own tickets (there were a few festival judges, theater staff, one person who wrote one of the other plays competing, and me, with a press pass, but otherwise the theater was empty).

It's a frustrating reality.

The play isn't all sadness, but that's a big part of it. While it fortunately avoided presenting people with HIV as tired, sick, wise, appropriately noble, and ready to die as soon as they're diagnosed, it is fundamentally about a woman who lost her brother and can't understand why, and it's hard to dress that up as anything other than tragedy.

The minimalist scene and beautifully-written monologues (by Bruno Gallisa, who also starred as Alexandre) were brought to life by Kleinbort's formidable performance. It's not something to go see on a night on the town, but hopefully the audience for this play will find it.

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