How far © Christophe Raynaud de Lage

5 min

The Institut français is supporting How far, a new production from the day-for-night company

Directed by Anne Monfort and written by Laure Bachelier-Mazon, How far is a play about sharing memories, between the north-east of Paris and Nigeria marked by the memory of the conflict at Biafra. The Institut français IF Création international cooperation programme supports new theatrical productions. 

How far © Christophe Raynaud de Lage

Entre deux espaces

How far is based on the writing of Laure Bachelier-Mazon, rooted both in the suburbs of Paris, where she lives, and in Nigeria, where she grew up. The play is directed by Anne Monfort, who heads the day-for-night company, with whom she has directed many productions since the early 2000s. She recently directed Anja Hillig’s Nostalgie 2175 and Le Cri d'Antigone, a musical performance. Alongside How far, she is currently working with director Léonce Henri Nlend on adapting Yan Gwet’s work on the Cameroon diaspora, Vous avez dit retour?. How far is performed on stage by the actors Pearl Manifold, Brigitte Tsafack and Heza Botto. 


A patchwork performance

Near Charles-de-Gaulle airport, a woman stops at a deserted petrol station to refuel. Here she meets Amady, a young Nigerian filmmaker who came to France to do research on the Biafra War. Although France was never been officially involved in this decolonial conflict in an English-speaking country, it was active behind the scenes to preserve foreign interests in a war that affected public consciousness by the number of its victims and by its unprecedented media coverage. This is the beginning of a series of scenes that unfold between France and Nigeria, in which different memories are woven together. 


Shared memories

Between fiction and reality, How far is a polymorphic work, bordering on languages, countries and stories. Performed on stage by Pearl Manifold, Brigitte Tsafack and Heza Botto, the play is multilingual and also includes song segments performed by Marion Sicre. Designed as a modular and scalable production, the performance is inseparable from the accompanying workshops, which allow it to be adapted to local contexts. The topic of sharing memories and speeches thus becomes a central issue, which each performance offers an opportunity to renegotiate. This is reflected in the title of the piece, the expression How far meaning “hello, how’s it going” in Nigerian pidgin. 


An international collaboration

Presented by day-for-night, How far is an international co-production created in close collaboration with the Feugham Company and La'akam (Bafoussam, Cameroon), the World of Words Festival (Conakry, Guinea), and the Arojah Royal Theatre (Abuja, Nigeria). During the course of 2024, it will be performed in Nigeria, Guinea and Cameroon, before embarking on a French tour that will include Le Colombier (Bagnolet) and GRRRANIT, the Belfort National Theatre.