The multi-Moliere Award-winning writer Alexis Michalik has been hailed as the golden boy of French theatre. He’s now making major inroads into the UK, his mother’s homeland, with back-to-back premieres of Edmond and Intra Muros. Here, he explains how a prison visit inspired the latter. Plus, gen up on “the new Florian Zeller” with our profile below. Time to get booking!
A maximum security prison holds long-term prisoners, the most difficult inmates and those who are considered unlikely to be reintegrated into society.
Some time ago, one of my short films received an award, which was presented by the inmates of a maximum security prison. One of the actresses in the film and I had the opportunity to speak with this group of inmates.
It was an exciting experience; all fervent film buffs, we discussed my short film and the latest movies they had seen. The conversation drifted onto their daily lives, and to their perception of time – which stretched inexorably. Some of them had spent more time between the walls of the prison than outside them.
The conversation drifted to their perception of time – which stretched inexorably
A few days later, I was still wondering about all the topics we could have discussed. But rather than asking questions, I preferred to imagine the answers. In envisioning what could have happened within the walls – intra muros – fiction began to supersede reality.
So, the scene is set in a prison. A theatre director gives his first lesson to two inmates. That moment ignites an introspection of the reasons for the prisoners’ detention, their relation to time, and the space that separates them from those outside. This introspection gives life to a romantic story full of twists and turns, stepping toward the naked truth inside this prison.
Intra Muros runs until 4 May 2019 at the Park Theatre, Clifton Terrace, Finsbury Park, London N4 3JP, with performances Mondays to Saturdays at 7.30pm, Thursday and Saturday matinees at 3pm. Tickets are priced £16.50-£32.50. CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE!
French theatre’s golden boy
Born in 1982 and raised in Paris, Alexis Michalik is the son of a Polish painter and a British artist. He started his career as an actor – one of his first roles, at the age of 18, was Romeo in a production of Romeo and Juliet staged by Peter Brook’s daughter Irina.
In 2009, he adapted Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew as La Megere and starred as Petruchio. That was followed by R&J, a three-person adaptation of Romeo and Juliet in which he also performed, and a take on Bizet’s Carmen entitled Carmen Rock & Soul Opera.
Michalik made his full-fledged playwriting debut with 2011’s Le Porteur d’Histoire (The Bearer of History). It and 2014’s Le Cercle Des Illusionnistes (The Circle of Illusionists) netted him the Beaumarchais du Figaro Prize, the Jeune Théâtre de l’Académie Française Award and two coveted Molière Awards.
In 2016, Michalik wrote and directed Edmond, inspired by Edmond Rostand‘s 1897 classic Cyrano de Bergerac. It went on to win five Molière Awards, recently celebrated its 800th performance in Paris and has also been released as a feature film.
The UK premiere of Edmond – directed by Roxana Silbert and starring Freddie Fox, Josie Lawrence, Henry Goodman and Chizzy Akudolu – opened last month at Birmingham Rep and is touring to York, Northampton, Cambridge and Richmond.