Soviet Union, late 1920s. In the middle of the night, Semione Semionovitch, unemployed and miserable, tries to relieve his hunger by swallowing a liver sausage. He wakes up his wife, an argument breaks out and the pitiful hero disappears, threatening "his last breath". Semionovitch’s wife, convinced that he will end his life, calls for help. The news spreads, attracting the neighbourhood and soon a whole gallery of characters intrude upon the unfortunate event. Thoughts of posthumous glory overtake Semionovitch, prompting the thought: by killing himself, could he finally become someone?
Written against the crossroads of the twenties and thirties, the play was banned before it could be performed. Victim of the authoritarian and repressive policies of the Soviet government, Nicolaï Erdman was arrested, shortly after writing The Suicide, for having signed a short satirical poem about Stalin. His two plays (The Mandate and The Suicide) were definitly banned. He was sent for three years to deportation and then placed under house arrest. He never resumed his career as a playwright, keeping within him "an eternal fear". This is a feeling that the "hero" of The Suicide, Semyonovich, is imbued with. An empty shell, a mediocre and insignificant being, Semyonovich seems to take on a life of his own only by the interested eyes of the others. On the threshold of his death, he is finally by a breath of life – a terrible, suspended whisper. Tick, tock. In the satirical tradition of Gogol, Nicolaï Erdman here summons people, notables, ecclesiastics, shopkeepers who persist in finding meaning in their lives, even though all their previous reference points have been destroyed. In this and asphyxiated society, a simple lie can reveal a chain of impostures until the final explosion. Nicolaï Erdman's text continues to resound with force, so much so that it contains a virulent critique of all oppressive political regimes and a biting reflection on the meaning of existence. The story of this pathetic little man who struggles in the chaos challenges our times, our desires, our resignations. How to resist oppression without being a hero?
Jean Bellorini and his troupe of actors, singers and musicians venture into this political farce that is as juicy as it is chilling, with a relentless mechanic and a vaudeville feel. The choral work, the musicians, and the costumes designed by Macha Makeïeff bring out the humour and madness of a score that moves at the unbridled rhythm of André Markowicz's translation. And finally, when the sets and masks fall, the theatre remains, an immense declaration of love to life.
Award-winning stage director Jean Bellorini has a strong affinity for the great classics of theatre and literature. In his work, theatre and music are closely combined, as well as a generous company spirit, and he advocates theatre that is both popular and poetic.
Trained as an actor at the École Claude Mathieu, he created the Compagnie Air de Lune with whom he directed Fiddler on the roof by Jerry Bock and Joseph Stein, Anton Chekhov's The Seagull, Yerma by Federico García Lorca and L'Opérette, drawn from Valère Novarina’s Opérette imaginaire. In 2010, he created Tempête Sous Un Crâne, a show in two periods based on Victor Hugo's Les Misérables at the Théâtre du Soleil. In 2012, he directed Paroles gelées, based on the work of François Rabelais (awarded the Molière Best Direction), then in 2013 Liliom ou La Vie et la Mort d'un vaurien by Ferenc Molnár. In 2013, he created The Good Person of Szechwan by Bertolt Brecht (awarded the Molière for Best Show in Public Sector).
He was appointed in 2014 Director of the Théâtre Gérard Philipe, the centre dramatique national (CDN) in Saint Denis,where he staged Un Instant, inspired by Proust’s work; and Onegin, based on Pushkin’s verse novel.He continued his theatrical creation work with the direction, in 2015 with Un fils de notre temps, based on the novel by Ödön von Horváth. The show has toured more than a hundred times, in theatre venues aswell as non-dedicated venues (high schools, homes for the aged, etc.). In 2016, he created The Brothers Karamazov at the Festival d’Avignon, based on the novel by Fédor Dostoyevsky. Over the seasons of the TGP, he has revived Liliom, Tempête sous un crâne and Paroles gelées, thus creating a living repertoire and attracting new audiences. Jean Bellorini has been Director of the TNP since 2020, and in that same year, he opened the “Semaine d’art en Avignon” with Valere Novarina’s Le Jeu des Ombres. Surrounded by his troupe and a constellation of associated artists, he is working for a creative theatre that is based on transmission and education, a poetic theatre deeply rooted in its region.
He also founded the Troupe éphémere (the Ephemeral Ensemble), made up of young people from Saint-Denis and now from Villeurbanne. The project makes a lasting commitment to the teenage public, rehearses throughout the year, and culminates in a presentation on the main stage of the theatre. One of their shows was invited by Ariane Mnouchkine to the Théâtre du Soleil. Jean Bellorini has directed plays at the Berliner Ensemble (The Suicide by Nicolaï Erdman), the Alexandrinsky Theatre in Saint Petersburg, and most recently, with the Teatro di Napoli (Tartuffe by Molière). He has directed operas at the Lille Opera, the Festival d’Aix-en-Provence and the Festival de Saint-Denis.His theatre can also be found in unexpected places. In 2016, for example, he and the actors of his troupe created a sound journey based on texts by Peter Handke for the exhibition Habiter le campement, produced by the Cité de l'architecture et du patrimoine. In 2018, he participated with some members of the Troupe éphémère in the exhibition Dazzling Venice at the Grand Palais (Paris), curated by Macha Makeïeff.