Un coup de dés (A Throw of the Dice)

Denis Lavant, Jean-François Pauvros, Wilfried Wendling

Un coup de dés defines chance as a fundamental element to performance. Three musicians, or maybe three comedians, improvise together in a very singular performance that takes Mallarmé’s poem out of a purely intellectual vision and give it back its experimental momentum.

All thought express
a throw o the dice

Stéphane Mallarmé

© Jean Daubas

© Jean Daubas

Written in 1897, one year prior to his death, Un Coup de Dés Jamais N’abolira le Hasard (A Throw of the Dice will Never Abolish Chance) is the first visual, graphic or typographic poetry – a piece of poetry to announce Dadaism and surrealism.

The poem’s hearing is deconstructed by successive repetitions of selected passages, sometimes with music sometimes with bare voice. Variations in diction speed and musical density also create effects of contrast, which make the text more dynamic and enlighten it. The audience can then follow a back and forth motion within the text, which reveals its singular visual form. Indeed while reading it, the eyes first get an overview of the page then focus on details. In this performance the audience hear the whole poem with several speech flows accompanied by more or less exogenous sounds.
The three men on stage each follow their own way with precise intercrossings in the text or music. But improvisation is crucial to the energy and the renewal of each performance. Hence the question of chance, so crucial to Mallarmé’s poem, is omnipresent in the core of the project.

It is a very unique and singular way of performing the famous Throw of the Dice. French neo-mallarméan tradition, often overblown concerning either music or poetry, is here upset by a much more “punk” version of the literary monument. This project completely assumes the will to bear an energetic and incarnate version of Stéphane Mallarmé’s sophisticated thought.
But Un coup de dés is also a work in progress, which includes other texts. Some are directly related to Mallarmé’s work, like Alfred de Vigny’s poem La bouteille à la mer (The bottle to the sea) and more distant others: press articles, contemporary poems… A video work on the text is also a possible future avenue.

Since 2007 Denis Lavant has often worked on Wilfried Wendling’s staging, either on Luc Boltanski’s or Heiner Müller’s texts. In 2012/2013 Müller machines was performed more than 35 times in Paris and several theatres in France.

Jean-François Pauvros and Denis Lavant met on several occasions around different poets, notably Rimbaud and Michaux, and share the same artistic commitment as well as a strong physical presence on stage, yet with very different artistic and bodily means.

In 2012, Wilfried Wendling, composer affiliated with La Maison de la Poésie in Paris, invites Denis Lavant and Jean-François Pauvros to an evening event dedicated to Stéphane Mallarmé.

The phrase “To learn off by heart” perfectly fits Denis Lavant’s work on Mallarmé’s poem. Having a passion for literature and particularly poetry, Denis Lavant learnt the poem without any other reason than his passion. He never ceased to explore its immense possibilities since then. This deep knowledge of the text was the ground for this non-orthodox version of Un coup de dés jamais n’abolira le hasard.

Denis Lavant _Voice

Jean-François Pauvros _Electric guitar

Wilfried Wendling _Electric arts


Morgan Ardit, production / tour manager: morgan.ardit@alamuse.com - 01 43 78 80 80