Joël Pommerat

Profile

Author and stage director Joël Pommerat (1963, Roanne, France) discovered his passion for theatre at secondary school, influenced by his French teacher. Instead of becoming a teacher, as his father would have liked, he moved to Paris to become an actor. At nineteen, he was accepted at the Théâtre de la Mascara in the village of Nogen l'Artaud just outside of Paris. However, four years later he decided that acting was not for him and took up writing. In 1990, Pommerat started his own company Louis Brouillard (a fictitious character – the first name is taken from his dad and the surname means 'fog' in French, which is a reference to his continuous theatrical explorations and an ironic nod to the brothers Lumière and the Théâtre du Soleil). He created his first productions with the Théâtre de la Main d’Or in Paris. In 2003 he gathered a group of seven actors with the idea to collaborate for a longer time – forty years in fact – and together develop a body of work. Most of them are still with him now. His collaboration with light and set designer Éric Soyer dates back to 1997 – together they have developed into masters of theatre lighting. Pommerat writes all of his material himself, in parallel with the rehearsal and design process. Discussing and improvising with his actors, he slowly finds the right form for his words. Since 1997, Pommerat and his company have been supported by the Théâtre Brétigny and the Théâtre Paris-Vilette. They have been touring since 2001. Pommerat started making a name for himself with his performances Au monde and Le petit chaperon rouge (both in 2004). His breakthrough in France came with his first production at the Avignon Festival, Les Marchands (The Merchants), winning him the Grand prix de littérature dramatique (Grand Prize for Best Playwright). Pommerat worked with various theatres in France. At the invitation of Peter Brook he was artist in residence at the Paris Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord from 2007 to 2010. Since 2010, Pommerat was a guest artist at the Paris l’Odéon-Théâtre de l’Europe and at the Théâtre national de Belgique in Brussels. In 2014, he joined a group of artists in the Théâtre Nanterre-Amandiers. Between 2010 and 2015 he also worked as a director at the Théâtre national de Belgique in Brussels. One of the highlights in his recent work has been Ma Chambre Froide (2011) at the l'Odéon-Théâtre de L’Europe, which won him two Molières (one for best living French playwright and one for best theatre company) as well as the French theatre critics' Grand Prix. That same year, he also staged one of his best children's performances, Cendrillon, a modern retelling of the Cinderella story. In 2013 at l’Odéon, Pommerat staged La Réunification des deux Corées, in which the audience were seated either side of a long narrow corridor, witnessing twenty ambiguous stories of love relationships on the verge of breaking down.