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Money: the giant octopus


My drug of choice
Jean-Claude Carrière Film-maker
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Je me suis souvent demandé, je n’ai pas de drogue particulière, artificielle, je ne suis pas un drogué, je ne fume pas, j’aime bien manger, j’aime bien boire, je fais même la cuisine mais je crois que ma vrai drogue, c’est presque banal de le dire, c’est le travail. C’est-à-dire que dès que je commence à travailler sur quelque chose qui vraiment m’intéresse, là j’oublie le temps qui passe, j’oublie les heures, je me retrouve tout en coup, je me dis: «Mon dieu, il y a déjà quatre heures que je suis là, comment est-ce possible?»  C’est ça je pense la vraie drogue qui est constituée d’excitation, de passion, de profonde inquiétude, est-ce que ce que j’écris a quelques charmes, quelques valeurs, quelque intérêts pour les autres? Par exemple quand on a une pièce de théâtre qui se crée, ce qui a été mon cas il y a quelques semaines, l’inquiétude est poussé à l’extrême, parce que non seulement on craint d’avoir écrit quelque chose qui ne vaut rien et qui ne va intéresser personne mais... si on est un tant soit peu responsable… on se dit qu’on a entrainé tout un théâtre, toute une organisation et toute une administration d’un théâtre, c’est à dire au moins 50 personnes, dans une aventure qui risque de leur coûter très cher. Et là l’auteur est en première ligne, si sa pièce et ce qu’il a écrit n’intéresse pas les spectateurs, tout va retomber sur lui. Donc cette inquiétude là me prive de sommeil pendant une ou deux semaines avant le début de chaque pièce. Heureusement, je n’en fais pas beaucoup. D’ailleurs ma femme m’interdit de faire du théâtre elle préfère que je fasse du cinéma et des livres, elle dit: «C’est moins angoissant». Heureusement la dernière pièce marche donc là c’est un soulagement mais qui est remis étrangement chaque jour en question, parce que ça a marché ce soir, très bien, les gens étaient très contents, ils ont beaucoup applaudit… mais est-ce que demain ça sera pareil, le public ne sera pas le même ? Il y a toujours cette extrême fragilité des choses que nous faisons, vulnérabilité du théâtre. Il faut qu’une pièce soit fragile et soit même en rupture, quelques fois qu’elle nous échappe, que nous en perdions le contrôle, pour qu’elle ait une chance d’être intéressante.

I have often wondered... I don't have any particular drug, artificial drug, I don't do drugs, I don't smoke... I like eating and drinking, I even cook, but I think my real drug - and it is almost banal to say this - is my work. I mean, as soon as I start working on something I am interested in, I forget about time, and suddenly I think, 'Four hours have already gone by, how's that possible?'  What I think is the real drug is the excitement, the passion... the profound worry as well, 'Does what I'm writing have any appeal, any value, any interest for the audience?' For instance, when you have a stage play being put on, like I had a few weeks ago, the worry is pushed to the extremes because you not only worry about having written something worthless, that will not interest anyone else... but if you have a sense of responsibility... you think about all those people in the theatre, its organisation and administration, about 50 people, whom you have taken on a journey that may cost them dearly. And the writer is at the frontline, if his play is of no interest to the audience all the blame will fall back onto him... so that worry robs me of my sleep for a couple of weeks before the start of the play. It is a good thing I don't do too many of them. My wife forbids me anyway to write for the theatre, she'd rather I stick to books and films, she says it is less stressful. Luckily, the last play has been a success so that's a relief... although the same question comes up every day because even though tonight worked out fine, people were very happy and applauded a lot, what about tomorrow? Will it be the same? The audience will be different. There is always that fragility about the things we do, that vulnerability in the theatre. A play has got to be fragile, letting us lose control so that it can be interesting.

French screenwriter Jean-Claude Carrière (1931-2021) began his association with films aged 24 when he was selected by Jacques Tati to write for him. This early experience led to further contact with other film-makers, including Luis Buñuel with whom Carrière collaborated for many years. He wrote screenplays for films including Belle de Jour, The Discreet Charms of the Bourgeoisie, Tin Drum and Danton.

Listeners: Andrzej Wolski

Film director and documentary maker, Andrzej Wolski has made around 40 films since 1982 for French television, the BBC, TVP and other TV networks. He specializes in portraits and in historical films. Films that he has directed or written the screenplay for include Kultura, which he co-directed with Agnieszka Holland, and KOR which presents the history of the Worker’s Defence Committee as told by its members. Andrzej Wolski has received many awards for his work, including the UNESCO Grand Prix at the Festival du Film d’Art.

Tags: Theatre, play writing, vulnerability

Duration: 2 minutes, 15 seconds

Date story recorded: January 2010

Date story went live: 10 May 2011