Nicolas Bouchaud Stars in THE EXERCISE WAS BENEFICIAL, SIR at FIAF Today

Nicolas Bouchaud Stars in THE EXERCISE WAS BENEFICIAL, SIR at FIAF Today

The French Institute Alliance Française (FIAF), New York's premiere French cultural center, is thrilled to welcome renowned French stage actor Nicolas Bouchaud for the U.S. premiere of The Exercise Was Beneficial, Sir (La Loi du marcheur) directed by Éric Didry tonight, May 21 and Thursday, May 22 in FIAF's Florence Gould Hall. The performance is presented in conjunction with a special CinéSalon series at FIAF celebrating the Cahiers du Cinéma in May and June.

A theatrical sensation when it premiered at Paris's prestigious Festival d'Automne, The Exercise Was Beneficial, Sir features an electrifying performance from Nicolas Bouchaud, one of the preeminent figures in contemporary French theater. In this one-man show, Bouchaud brilliantly embodies the late Serge Daney, former editor-in-chief of Cahiers du Cinéma and possibly the most influential film critic since André Bazin.

Witty and entrancing, The Exercise Was Beneficial, Sir will engage cinephiles and theater enthusiasts alike, as Bouchaud retraces Daney's life and the evolution of his passion for the cinematic image. Meticulously transcribed by director Éric Didry, the play is based on Itinéraire d'un ciné-fils (Itinerary of a Ciné-Son), an interview filmed over the course of three days with journalist Régis Debray shortly before Daney's untimely death of AIDS in 1992.

Cigarette in hand and scotch within reach, Bouchaud leads the audience through Daney's discovery of cinema as a child growing up poor in postwar France, the emergence of the nouvelle vague, the tumultuous events of May '68, and the advent of television. Projected scenes from Rio Bravo, one of his favorite westerns, appear against a screen as Bouchaud inserts himself into the film, deftly and gleefully inhabiting various roles in this exhilarating conversation between stage and screen.

In French with English supertitles.

Related Event:


Cahiers du Cinéma:

French Cinema's Secret Trove

& Cahiers du Cinéma's Top Picks

May 6-June 24 at 4 & 7:30pm

FIAF, Florence Gould Hall

This spring, the French Institute Alliance Française (FIAF), presents a special two-part CinéSalon series in collaboration with the unparalleled French film magazine Cahiers du Cinéma. Coinciding with Cahiers' 700th issue, the series features a selection of rarely shown gems as well as recent standouts, all of which have been fêted in the pages of the legendary magazine.

In May, FIAF presents French Cinema's Secret Trove, featuring some of the best examples of the overlooked, poetic cinema in French film history. In June, the collaboration continues with Cahiers du Cinéma's Top Picks, a selection of new films championed by Cahiers.

Additionally, Cahiers du Cinéma and FIAF have partnered with Indiewire, the indispensable daily news site for the independent film community and a leading source of information on independent and foreign films, to present exclusive English translations of original Cahiers reviews of the films screening. The reviews will be posted on Indiewire on the Monday prior to each screening.

Throughout the series, the latest May 2014 issue of Cahiers du Cinéma, its 700th, will be available for sale at all screenings.

Curated by Delphine Selles-Alvarez and Nicholas Elliott, New York correspondent for Cahiers du Cinéma.

About Nicolas Bouchaud: An actor since 1991, Nicolas Bouchaud worked with directors Étienne Pommeret and Philippe Honoré before meeting Didier-Georges Gabily, with whom he collaborated on several plays. In 1998, Nicolas Bouchaud began performing under the direction of Jean-François Sivadier, which marked the beginning of a long collaboration between the two men.

Bouchaud headlined Sivadier's production of King Lear, which was presented in the legendary Cour d'Honneur at the 2007 Festival d'Avignon. The following year, he directed and performed alongside Gaël Baron, Valérie Dreville, Jean-François Sivadier, and Charlotte Clamens in Paul Claudel's Partage de Midi, also presented at Avignon. In 2010, he created La Loi du marcheur, based on the work of film critic Serge Daney, which premiered at the Festival d'Automne in Paris and was presented in a return engagement the following year due to overwhelming critical and popular acclaim.

More recently, Bouchaud performed in Projet Luciole, directed by Nicolas Truong, at the 2013 edition of the Festival d'Avignon. Bouchaud was nominated for a Molière Award (French Tony) for his performance in Sivadier's production of Molière's The Misanthrope. In November 2014, Bouchaud will re-team with director Éric Didry in a theatrical adaptation of John Berger and Jean Mohr's Un métier ideal (A Fortunate Man).

About Éric Didry: Theater director and actor Éric Didry has worked with director Claude Regy and lectured at the Ateliers Contemporains. He has also been an artistic collaborator of Pascal Rambert.

In 1993, Didry began developing his own plays, and has sought to broaden the dramatic field by creating new dramaturgies. Both in his first project, Boltanski/Interview, the transcription of a radio interview of the artist Christian Boltanski, and in The Exercise Was Beneficial, Sir, based on an interview with Serge Daney, oral communication has been at the center of his work. In Récits/Reconstitutions and Compositions, Didry probes the boundaries between individual and group, redefining the place and perception of the audience.

Pedagogy plays an important role in Didry's work. He teaches at professional theater schools and regularly hosts "improvised story" workshops involving both actors and dancers.

About Serge Daney: Serge Daney was born in 1944, in the 11th arrondissement of Paris, a central, working-class borough surrounding La Bastille. He lived there until his death in 1992.

Daney worked as a film critic for Les Cahiers du Cinéma from 1973 to 1981, and then at the renowned newspaper Libération from 1981 to 1991. Shortly before he died, he founded the magazine Trafic (1991). Daney's passion for cinema originated in his childhood. An only child, he was raised by his mother and grandmother after his Jewish father disappeared in World War II, and frequently accompanied his mother to the local movie theater.

This marked the beginning of an existential experience to which he would continually refer. He spent his life analyzing this experience, which would inspire his theory on the collective culture of the gaze.

In 1962, Daney founded the magazine Visages du cinema with his high school friend Louis Skorecki. His first article was Rio Bravo - Un art adulte. The two traveled to the United States together and interviewed several of the still-living directors revered by nouvelle vague and its magazine, Les Cahiers du Cinéma. Their dream was to have the interviews published in the Cahiers.

Thus began Serge Daney's at first modest and irregular collaboration with the magazine. From 1968 on, he traveled through Africa and India. A tireless walker and adventurer, he confronted geography with images. In 1973, Les Cahiers du Cinéma experienced a political and aesthetic crisis and Daney was offered the job of editor-in-chief. He accepted it and held the position for eight years, sometimes leading the magazine to ideological deadlocks but never giving up on seeking out auteur cinema from all over the world.

In 1981, Daney left Cahiers du Cinéma to collaborate on the new format of Libération, considerably enlarging its audience and expanding its writing on images, cinema, television, and the media. With humor and accuracy, he defended cinema, an art at once popular and sophisticated, from increasing commodification.

From 1985 to 1990, he hosted a weekly radio program called Microfilms on France Culture, welcoming guests for conversations on cinema. In 1991, Daney founded his own magazine Trafic (published by POL). Itinéraire d'un ciné-fils (Journey of a Ciné-Son) was filmed over three days in January 1992. Daney died of AIDS on June 12, 1992, shortly before the release of the fourth issue of his magazine Trafic.

About FIAF: The French Institute Alliance Française (FIAF) is New York's premiere French cultural and language center. FIAF's mission is to create and offer New Yorkers innovative and unique programs in education and the arts that explore the evolving diversity and richness of French cultures. FIAF seeks to generate new ideas and promote cross cultural dialogue through partnerships and new platforms of expression.

Performances play FIAF - Florence Gould Hall, 55 East 59th Street (between Park and Madison Avenue). Admission: FIAF Members: $45; Non-Members $55. Tickets: Call 800 982 2787 or visit Subway: 4, 5, 6, N, R and Q at 59th Street; F at 63rd Street.

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