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PRIX DE LA CRITIQUE 2015 "DECOUVERTE"
Let’s talk about mental health with detachment, humour and poetry. Let’s consider the role of those so-called "crazy people" in our society. Let’s re-examine psychiatry today, with all of its advances and setbacks. Those, in essence, are the goals pursued by Sophie Warnant and Romain Vaillant in their show Ha Tahfénéwai! To have a better understanding, the two actors spent a great deal of time researching this sensitive and taboo subject in two specialty institutions: La Clinique Psychiatrique de la Borde in France and La Devinière, a residential psychotherapy treatment centre near Charleroi, Belgium. "We lived with the patients and caregivers”, they state. “We took the time to look, to listen, we have taken on their words, bodies and emotions."
Upon their return, they realized how nourishing these stories and words had been. They decided to share them with us - without any heaviness or voyeurism. With small, personal and lifelike action, everything happens around a table, two chairs and a sideboard, in this sober and minimalist show. Under stark lights, without artifice, the two actors tell, with not just their words, but also with dance, what they saw and heard and further meditate on disturbing yet essential questions: the role of the patient in an institution, the issue of confinement, the weight and burden of therapeutic treatments...
The strength of Ha Tahfénéwai! resides in its purity, it is not about moralizing nor is anything black-and-white. The play also allows us to confront our own fears and apprehensions and to see ourselves reflected in it "We all have that instability inside of us, we could fall into it at any time," rightly observes the director. This play, as simple and as complicated as its human subjects, must be seen in order to take another look at and to understand mental illness.