Marion SIEFERT
Stage director

Marion received a production grant for her show Jeanne Dark.

 

What is your artistic background?

I am self-taught. I've avoided anything that closely or remotely resembles a school, with teachers who impose a standard, an aesthetic line or ways of doing things, with proofs, renderings, diplomas, etc. I have always been a good pupil and I have observed enough of the ravages of good education and school doctrine on myself to want to experience something else with theatre. I did not seek to enter a school. Instead, I preferred to chart my own course and choose the places, people and settings that would help me to create. My path was planned out with my friends (Matthieu Bareyre, Caroline Lionnet, Janina Arendt, Helena De Laurens, Valentine Solé), whom are artists I admire. It was also formed by attending a place that would allow me to create my first plays: The Institute of Applied Theatre Studies in Giessen. But in fact, I don't really like the idea of a tour. I think you get to things by breaking down doors or entering through windows. Otherwise, you spend your life waiting in front of the door and when it opens, you're already dead. I wanted to just do it. My generation was held down by a strong feeling of powerlessness and failure. The feeling that we had no future and that there was no place for us. We had to find figures from the shadows and the night, vampires and burglars, to start moving. Theatre is the place where I link the tales and games of my childhood, where I find a form of freedom. 

 

How do you see your profession today?

It hasn't been my profession for very long, in the sense that I haven't been living from theatre for very long and that I can pay those who work with me. I realize that each show is a negotiation, with each collaborator and with myself, about what we are prepared to give to the show. Without this generosity, the show does not survive. But without financial reward, it quickly becomes a sacrifice. Money and salary give a framework, remind one of functions, set limits. Being paid for what you do is very important. It allows you to take ownership of your own work, to give it value, to gain autonomy. As for my profession, which is that of "executive artist-director" (as it says on my pay slips), I think it is marked by individualism and competition with one another. There are few spaces where we can meet and organize ourselves collectively. We are seen as isolated little geniuses or as children who need to be "professionalized". This is our great weakness, and it makes us, in a context of budget restrictions and sharp cuts in budgets dedicated to culture, ideal and defenseless prey.

 

How do you see yourself in five years? In 10 years?

It's difficult to answer this question and at the same time it's very important to know how to face the future. I have the impression that many of us live in denial. These are not reassuring times. We feel that something huge is going to fall on our heads and it makes us so anxious that we don't want to think about it. It's important to anticipate things and to tell ourselves that in the coming years, we're going to create in a context of class struggle. No one will have any retirement money. Many unemployed people will not be able to receive their benefits and will have to accept precarious jobs. Migrants will continue to be hunted down in spite of international law, etc. etc. I can see that for the moment, the majority of artists do not recognize themselves in the Gilets Jaunes movement for example. They fantasize about it. Culturally, socially, they don't feel "the same". The question is when the world of theatre will feel sufficiently threatened to start acting collectively and to really join in the great fundamental movements that are shaking up society?

 

This interview was conducted in 2020

Photo credit: Kamila K. Stanley