Interview with Jean Lambert-wild


 You mentioned that La Sagesse des abeilles  (The Wisdom of bees) had been thought of as the continuity of Le Recours aux forêts  (The Retreat into the Forest). Could you develop the idea of the relationship between the two?

 At the end of Le Recours aux forêts , the final sentence that Michel Onfray gives us is: “serenity will triumph”. This triumph of serenity perhaps consists of taking some time to look at the apiary and, during contemplation, to learn how to conduct oneself. There is also a dimension of serenity in friendship; that is why it’s Michel Onfray’s friendship that guides this “first lesson of Democritus”.


 Where does your interest in honeybees come from, and especially your interest in their disappearance, a phenomenon called “colony collapse disorder”?

 My delight in entomology came from descriptions : Maurice Maeterlinck’s La Vie des abeilles  (The Life of the Bee), and the French translation of Ernst Jünger’s Subtile Jugden (Subtle Hunts).  It also came from the pleasure I took in contemplating dung beetles, ants… Insects interest me, the way they organise our world, the way they create movement in places where we didn’t expect to find any. When one is interested in something, one is necessarily concerned about its disappearance. We have this in ourselves, that we can grieve in anticipation for all things that we love deeply, that are still alive, and we know are going to disappear. But some things have to  outlive us. And because honeybees are not individuals, they participate in a web of interests that we share with them, and participate in a conversation that must be continued. Can we mourn the honeybees in anticipation, and ask ourselves: “is this bearable”? I don’t think it is bearable, a world devoid of honeybees. Silent Springs will be sad. There will be a loss of harmonics. If we are emotionally able to understand what is at stake, then perhaps we can ask ourselves what it is that is on the verge of breaking.


 Is your willingness to have honeybees and men cohabiting on stage part of this conversation project?


 I don’t know if one can speak of cohabitation… I would say that we are going to work together. Our desire for a conversation to happen isn’t going to be addressed between actors and bees, it is rather between actors, some of whom are bees, and spectators. The conversation is established in this direction, always.

 Is this reason why that it takes place in the theatre?


 There is, in theatre, something that is within our reach. An actor’s body in the theatre is a world in front of you. Theatre is like a landscape in which you could pitch a tent and stay a little. There are no walls, no taboos, it is fabulous. It is an incredible space for these reasons.


 How are you going to work with the public beforehand, how are you going to integrate people into this project?

 Everywhere we perform the show, we will need to prepare our “actresses”, prepare an apiary, if not several. Preparing this apiary, with the help of beekeepers but also with the audience, will allow a relationship of love to happen, and with it, the beginning of a catharsis. It will allow us to grasp that the living is a subtle thing. The issue will be to pay attention to the honeybees’ micromovements, as so many dancers. This work will be accompanied by a “poetic pollination” of the land, initiated by Ania Temler: to have an anthology of texts going from Democritus to Michel Onfray, and to give those texts to those who would like to disseminate them. I am interested in the way people might take hold of those texts, the way they might add others, even perhaps how they might start writing. Ania will be the initiator of this poetic pollination. She will come to  your house, teach you how to manage an apiary while she gives you honey to taste and pollen to smell… We will also film the faces of all those who help us manage our apiary. Thus, from place to place, the wealth of our humanity will be projected during the show and will assert itself more and more.

 Would you term this approach and this show “politically committed”?


 Every one of our actions in life must be a commitment. How could there be any actions without commitment? One can only speak about the world one lives in. That’s the only thing we can do. And to speak about it is a commitment. There can’t be theatre without commitment. What I mean to say is that the question of commitment is not necessarily a political one. It is an attitude to oneself, consisting of measuring the importance of things. There really is an infinite grace in life, in the fact of living. This is where one’s commitment lies. Our commitment is to live, and to try to do so fully.

 What importance do you confer to magic and illusion in La Sagesse des abeilles?


What is interesting with magic is the fact that it can amplify our feelings. It generates echoes to tensions we are familiar with, whether tensions of love or of fear… For something to become  perceptible, one must either spend an enormous amount of time watching it, or use your reason. But there is a third method, which I see as the state of grace and which makes things immediately evident: this is what magic and illusion do. Poetry is the rarest commodity of all, because it is like the trails of energy left by all these lives around us, these lives that collide, bustle, love and assault each other... And as it goes with any trail, it eventually vanishes. Poetry could be a gas: very tricky to trap! One can breathe it on a daily basis and never pay attention to it. You breathe on a daily basis and don’t ever wonder about this breath. It’s maybe when one’s head is underwater that one realises how important it is. Bacteria don’t need to breathe. But we need air. Perhaps poetry is a subtle gas…


 Could you tell me more about the team that surrounds you, and about the fact that these “voices of men” you have chosen are all very specific.

 This decision is influenced by Jean-Luc Therminarias’ musical demand. If this team was put together: Ania Temler, Stéphane Pellicia, David Moss, Sam Ashley, Jacqueline Humbert, it is  because Jean-Luc needs such an organ of voices. And also because each of these people is conscious of their respiration. The other essential team is composed of Renaud Lagier, François Royet, Jean-Luc Therminarias, Michel Onfray, Lorenzo Malaguerra, people who have been working together for a while and who keep the conversation going, who keep on building a poetic adventure.