The farming world has been struck hard by the economic crisis, globalisation, noxious derivatives of the liberal market, the dominance of industrial food-processing, and the race to beat competition. Forsaken farmers are left in their farms and their stables against a background of bankruptcy and human suffering.
Working the land is hard work. It can no longer be said of this noble profession, vital to society, that happiness is found in the field as portrayed in the acclaimed French film Le Bonheur est dans le pré. The authors remind us that, “Every year hundreds of farms close their doors and as many jobs are lost.” To demonstrate the decline of family farming, the Compagnie Art & tça has undertaken an enormous “documentary theatre” project. The actor Charles Culot, himself the son of farmers, and Valérie Gimenez, actress, got their cameras out and took off to meet several farming families. From Luxemburg to Lozère, they came back with dozens of testimonies. Using these for inspiration, along with Françoise Bloch’s techniques of “art imitating reality” and documentary filmmaker Raymond Depardon’s work, they created their show.
“All subject matter collected in the field becomes our working base,” explains Alexis Garcia, director of the show. With a very minimalist set and cast (two actors, one table, a lamp and two chairs) and a subtle blend of performance art and video projections, the Cie Art & tça urges its audience to look further than the furrows of our countryside.
Touching on such pertinent subjects as food quality, prevailing waste, North-South relations, and environmental preservation, the show is “also a reflection of the state of today’s world as far as common and individual commitment are concerned.”