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December 6 to 17 marks a captivating theatrical event at Le Monnot Theater, featuring Fernanda Barth in a multifaceted portrayal of various female characters. This Lebanese-Brazilian actress, previously acclaimed for her performances in Paris, now embraces the challenge of bringing these characters to life on the Lebanese stage.

How did you come up with the play concept?  

The opportunity arose when the Lyncéus Festival in Brittany, France, granted me complete creative freedom to conceive a solo performance. I sought the expertise of Régis de Martrin-Donos, a gifted playwright and director, who crafted a bespoke script for me. I aspired to amalgamate all the female characters I had ever dreamed of portraying into a single narrative. I provided Régis with texts and interviews of both renowned and unsung women who resonated with me due to their authenticity, humor or struggles. It’s a rare privilege to have a writer so attuned to one’s artistic desires. Our production comprises eight diverse portraits of women, spanning various ages, backgrounds and nationalities, from prehistoric figures to contemporary adolescents. It’s a tribute to the universal and multifaceted nature of femininity.

Why focus on the theme of women?

I was born on March 8, on the International Women’s Day, and the joy and pride of being a woman have always been evident to me since childhood. On one hand, I wished to honor the women in my life, like my mother and grandmother, who instilled in me the values of freedom and the courage to be oneself. On the other hand, I relished the opportunity to embody female figures vastly different from myself. As an actor, one becomes a conduit of emotions, advocating for the characters they portray, irrespective of their nature. In my view, it involves a commitment to embrace these characters unconditionally. It’s the exhilaration and madness of embodiment. The audience will discern their own interpretations. Des Femmes (Women) is a gallery of portraits that also celebrates the transformative power of theatre and acting.

What challenges did you face in transitioning between characters, and how did the direction aid your preparation?

Each woman has her own distinct physicality, rhythm and emotional landscape. Some speak different languages or have accents, while others express themselves through dance or remain static. Transitioning between characters is a technical and rhythmic process, honed during rehearsals under Régis’s meticulous guidance. I find that shifting from one woman to another is not overly complex. The real challenge lies in remaining fully present, reinventing the scenes each night as if for the first time, as if the words were unknown to me.

Which character resonates with you the most, and why?

I hold affection for all of them. Each emerged from dialogues and discussions with the author, based on materials I provided. We drew inspiration from figures like Dalida, Barbara, Beauvoir, Carmen Miranda and many others, while allowing fiction to take precedence.

What aspects of these women have you internalized through your portrayals?

There’s a part of me in each of them, and a part of them in every facet of me, given that an actor experiences at least seven lives.

Can you describe your journey between Brazil and France?

I attended a French high school in Brazil and moved to France for higher education, earning a bachelor’s and master’s degree in Theater Studies from Sorbonne Nouvelle and the National Conservatory of Dramatic Arts in Paris.

How would you describe your connection with Lebanon?

Born in Brazil to a Lebanese father, I experienced and grew to love Lebanon from a young age through my father’s affectionate Arabic words, his welcoming nature, and the vibrant celebrations and dinners. Having visited the country several times, I identify strongly with Lebanese culture. Performing my show in Beirut fulfills a longstanding dream. I extend my heartfelt thanks to Josyane Boulos, director of Le Monnot Theatre, for her trust in me.

Marie-Christine Tayah

Instagram: @mariechristine.tayah