Blog: Walter Meierjohann

The artistic director of theatre at Home, Manchester, on the venue’s new international hit production La Mélancolie des Dragons

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I first saw La Mélancolie des Dragons a couple of years ago, and it really blew my mind.

The visual experience was just extraordinary. Philippe Quesne was originally a set designer before becoming a director – and what he put on stage, to me, was like a contemporary version of Samuel Beckett’s incredible Waiting for Godot. However, instead of the tramps you meet six hard rockers – outsiders, sort of goofy guys – stranded in a car, unable to fix it, at a loss of what to do. And what do people do in these situations? Well, they come up with a dream. They bring to life this crazy idea of building a funfair – they basically create a vision of what they could do with their lives, and it’s amazing how this is realised on stage.

We’re honoured to be hosting this UK premiere. Philippe is a big name in the theatre world and runs one of Paris’s biggest theatres, Nanterre-Amandiers. Working with someone who has such a strong visual sense alongside an amazing approach to providing a unique stage experience translates internationally and is one of the reasons why this production is so popular.

And don’t worry if you don’t speak French – the piece is all about the visual and the dialogue is minimal (plus it’s all in English). You’ll see a heavy metal contest, a car and snow on stage. It’ll look magnificent, and be prepared to laugh out loud. This is a very uplifting play and a deeply human touching work.

La Mélancolie des Dragons takes a different approach than anything I’ve ever seen before in my life in the world of theatre and completely changes the perception of what theatre can achieve. I hope this production will also inspire theatre makers from around the UK to push boundaries within their own work.

If La Mélancolie was a film, I guess you could draw comparisons to the work of film directors such as Aki Kaurismäki and Jacques Tati – or think Lenny Abrahamson’s Frank: surreal, different and funny.

La Mélancolie des Dragons is at Home, Manchester, 1-3 Oct

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