VOIX LIBRES Petit Théâtre Français at the Korzo in The Hague

It is not easy to shift from a monopolistic system in which the authority has direct control over the content of information; to a pluralistic model in which a private competitive sector coexists with public freed from political constraints. Petit Théâtre Français, a group of French speaking actors, transports the audience to Paris in the 80’s in order to show just how complicated it really was.

First left-wing politician is elected to be the president of France, and in 1981 (following pressure from independent radio lobbies and pirate broadcasters) he grants free radios the right to emit. The theatre performance Voix Libres follows a journey of two young, enlightened groups of people on a journey from the establishment of a pirate radio, through various obstacles and changes in the law, to becoming free radios by accepting the diffusion of advertisements.

Accompanied by a live band performance on the stage, the play uses 80’s music and old radio equipment to take the audience back in time. Time of bygone political division between left and right, between anarchists fighting for independency from the state, not willing to “sell” themselves, and others more willing to collaborate with the government in order to reach their goals. Time of social change, liberation and turbulent path of the government loosing its utopian dreams.

As the actors spoke in French, the performance also had poorly synchronised surtitles that either stayed for too long or disappeared too fast — making it very difficult for non-French speaking guests to follow at times complicated politically charged dialogue. Live band did not always manage to perform a song successfully, and some transitions between scenes were simply too long, with music playing in the background and one or two actors jumping (— dancing perhaps) on the stage.

Nonetheless, throughout the performance the use of irony and exaggeration when talking about left and right wing politics worked extremely well in order to show nonsensical division preventing synergy and problem solving cooperation. Many issues raised during the performance are easily applicable to today’s creative practices and polarising political views.    Eva Tisnikar   12th April 2019