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Portrait
Theatre

Mohamed El Khatib

The delicacy humour restores a kind of humanity.

Rather than using his writing talent for “theses that never get read”, Mohamed El Khatib prefers to create shows with the people he meets, especially those would never have thought of stepping foot in a theatre.

Updated on 14/03/2019

2 min

Born in France in 1980 to Moroccan parents, Mohamed El Khatibi advocates for cultural and intellectual eclecticism. This philosophy is reflected in his unusual career path.

After studying French language and literature, geography and sociology and spending a short time at the Centre of Dramatic Art in Mexico City, he organised theatre camps for at-risk young people at the Avignon festival in 2003.

Considering art to be a apolitical as well as an aesthetic gesture, he founded the Zirlib collective in 2008 with people from diverse backgrounds, working around a simple premise: the most demanding form must be able to reach the most ordinary audience.

Mohamed El Khatib works on a form of "documentary" theatre, the writing of which he has developed with the support of L’L in Brussels, a place offering stage artists a space to experiment.

Mohamed El Khatib does not like fragmentation. A critic of cultural insularity, he writes and stages creations that provoke unexpected encounters between worlds which usually ignore one another. As such, Stadium, created in 2017, invited fans of the Racing Club de Lens to come on stage and recount life in the stadiums.

Since 2011, he has also worked on intimate writing using “anti-show” forms of representation. This research has given rise to three pieces on the theme of mourning: Ending in Beauty (“Finir en beauté”) (2014), a documentary performance in which he recalls the death of his mother; Renault 12 TS (2015), a film of his trip to Morocco to rediscover his heritage; and C'est la vie (2017), a performance in which two “reverse orphans” recount the loss of a child.

A theatre and sociology enthusiast, Mohammed El Khatib puts the ordinary on stage. This has doubtless been the source of success of his internationally-popular plays, beginning with Me, Corinne Dadat (“Moi, Corinne Dadat”), a kind of combined portrait of professional dancer Élodie Guézou and cleaning lady Corinne Dadat, which played in the United States and England in 2016.

The Birmingham Repertory Theater discovered Ending in Beauty at the Off Avignon Festival in 2015 and decided to include it in its programme. Stadium seduced Buenos Aires and in 2017, the director agreed to put on his play in the city of Maradona.

  • 2008

    2008

    Mohamed El Khatib founds the Zirlib collective in Orléans.

  • 2010

    2010

    His first show at the Scène Nationale in Sète, L'Abri de rien, a piece of fragmented writing about death and mourning.

  • 2011

    2011

    The director joins L'L and starts a creative cycle on intimate writing and its representation in anti-show forms of expression.

  • 2016

    2016

    He wins a dramatic literature prize for Ending in Beauty, a minimalist performance about the death of the author's mother.

The Institut français and the author.

A Beautiful Ending (“Finir en beauté”) and C'est la vie by Mohamed El Khatib were presented in Porto, Portugal in December 2018, with the support of the Institut français.

 

L'institut français, LAB