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Suzette Project, WET° 2020
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© Nicolas Verfaillie

Theatrical youth at the WET° Festival

During the WET° (acronym for Weekend T°) Festival, the city of Tours embarks on a packed programme of shows on 28 and 29 March. Held over two days at the Théâtre de l'Olympia and on five other stages around the city, the festival is entirely dedicated to young contemporary artists from France and elsewhere.

Updated on 30/03/2020

2 min

The freshness and boldness of WET° is evident from the first line of the event’s manifesto which refers to it as: “a festival of young creativity led by young creators". Each year the 10 shows presented are selected by members of the artistic ensemble of the Théâtre de l'Olympia, headquarters of the Centre Dramatique National (National Drama Centre or CDN) in Tours. Five actors selected from the national schools and conservatories of the Centre-Val de Loire region are welcomed to the CDN all year round to hone their techniques.

The WET° Festival is a pivotal moment when they affirm their artistic choices and the singularity of their vision for the theatre. This commitment to young creators explains the success of a prolific festival that has quickly established itself as an important place of discovery for audiences and programmers.

Emergence and loyalty

Ever since the first edition in 2016, the organisers of the WET° Festival have shown their dedication. Aside from technical and financial considerations, their ethos is about showing only creations offered by authors under the age of 30, who are often in the early stages of their theatrical career. This approach sometimes takes a risk by shining a spotlight on productions that are young in every sense of the word. And it is supported by true loyalty from creators who are given the opportunity to grow with the festival.

Attending in 2017 to present Le Roi sur sa couleur (The King On His Colour), the actor and director Hugues Duchêne was welcomed two years later in a different guise as part of the company Le Royal Velours (Royal Velvet), to present Je m'en vais, mais l'État demeure (I Am Leaving But The State Remains). This political drama, whose perpetual movement feeds on the ups and downs of current events, has enjoyed growing success everywhere it has been. Again in a different guise, Blaise Pettebone had attended the festival as an actor in the collectif Colette for the performance of Pauline à la plage (Pauline At The Beach, 2016). Three years later he returned as a director demonstrating his keen observations in Toi tu creuses (You Dig) with its air of social investigation, wavering between fiction and improvisation. These partnerships are essential for authors who sometimes struggle to show their work.

Youth from here and abroad

Another constant of the festival is its openness to the international scene so it can offer a broad panorama of the themes of young European creation. This was the case in previous editions, with performances by the Belgian director Justine Lequette (J'abandonne une partie de moi que j'adapte or I Am Giving Up A Part Of  Myself That I Am Adapting in 2018) and the Brussels collective Wow! (Piletta remix in 2017). In 2020, the 5th edition is no exception with the presence of one of the pillars of the new Georgian scene, Data Tavadze, presenting one of his creations within the Royal District Theatre for the first time in France: the ambitious and lyrical Women of Troy.

More than anything, the geography of the WET° Festival defines a new aesthetic territory where young people can express their ideas. For several years now documentary theatre, which combines fiction and archive documents from different media (family photos, videos, news clips, etc.), has carved out a prime place in programming. In 2020, the Suzette Project by Daddy Cie! and Maryvonne by Collectif Nouvelle Hydre are part of this approach.

Others are stepping into the realm of intimacy to redefine the shape of a genre, such as actor Simon Falguières who attended the Cours Florent free class. His Journal d'un autre (Diary of Another) stretches the boundaries of performing solo, freeing him from the usual conventions of the genre.

For all its creators, the WET° Festival is an invaluable setting, a place where they can reformulate their desires. It's a great way to shore up their craft before heading out to sail in even more tumultuous waters.

L'Institut français et le projet

25 programmateurs étrangers sont invités par l'Institut français au WET°, dans le cadre de son FOCUS organisé du 25 au 30 mars 2020.

L'institut français, LAB