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“It is time to open up, to talk to each other better. Otherwise, we will die”

Reserved smile, voluble conversation, Gérald Garutti looks happy: “It’s the first time that I’ve carried out a project that has unanimous support, from students to bosses, from ministries to Samusocial. » The funny initiative launched at the beginning of the year by the 48-year-old director and called Center des arts de la parole (CAP) is based on an observation: “Everywhere, people talk. Do we talk to each other? » The first spark came to him in London, one day in June 2019. As he rehearsed a Tartuffe, maliciously edited with French and British actors as a snub to BrexitDonald Trump tumbles into the British capital and immediately transforms his official visit under royal protocol into yet another series of lies, insults, angry tweets…

“This was the start of a reflection, then accelerated by the absence of real debate during the French presidential election of 2022, says today Gérald Garutti, in the vast library of his house, in Aubervilliers (Seine-Saint-Denis). I understood that we were experiencing a radical degradation of speech, which had become destructive, poorly controlled, degenerating. »

Listening to him, social networks make us live in “an issuing company” where it is necessary at all costs to give its opinion and if possible without nuance. Like an echo, political leaders only use words to indulge in “mutual shelling”. Result ? “The creation of fallacious communities, closed groups, infernal loops, radical cells, where the common becomes a prison, an illusion”, does he grieve in You have to see how we talk to each other, the manifesto of his project, published on January 18 by Actes Sud.

Interweaving thought, drama and writing

It took him three years to think up his counter-fire, the CAP, this association intended to “to revalue all types of words” : poetry, rhetoric, dialogue, criticism, theatre. A way of interweaving thought, drama and writing. Either the acrobatic mix that Gérald Garutti has loved since his beginnings, he, the intellectual jack-of-all-trades who stages Shakespeare and adapts Musset, between a hand-sewn staging for Pierre Richard or Mathieu Kassovitz, a course at Sciences Po, a Tribune…

The program has the depth of great ambitions. From the spring, the CAP, which currently has a team of four people, plans to launch a traveling festival, a podcast channel, an annual review, a collection at Actes Sud, but also readings, conferences , plays or slam shows. “We are addressing everyone”, tired of clashes and invectives from all walks of life, claims Gérald Garutti.

Physical events – free or at an affordable price – will not take place in Paris: “I cannot claim to decompartmentalise worlds by being in the 8e arrondissement ! » He preferred Aubervilliers, where he has lived for twelve years, and its fort, a former urban wasteland transformed into a vast cultural center welcoming artists and associations and equipped with spaces with gauges from 200 to 450 places. The Dionysian town with 108 nationalities, which the 2024 Olympics promise to partially redesign, is the third French city with the highest poverty rate, according to the latest barometer from the Observatory of Inequalities, at the end of December.

Sponsors from all walks of life

Helped by his interpersonal skills, he placed the initiative under the aegis of 21 sponsors who undertake to intervene: the philosopher and psychoanalyst Cynthia Fleury, the president of the BNF, Laurence Engel, the rapper Fianso, the singer Arthur H , the philosopher Frédéric Gros, the novelist Eliette Abécassis… “Gérald has an Anglo-Saxon sensibility: he takes pleasure in bringing together energies and people from different spheres”, summarizes documentary filmmaker Hind Meddeb, who is also involved in the project.

To finance everything, the city of Aubervilliers, the Ile-de-France region, the Center national du livre, the Théâtre de la Criée, in Marseille, and others are playing partners, watching for other subsidies or patronage. Above all, the CAP launched a few months ago lucrative six-day training programs to reflect on the place of speech, learn how to better formulate one’s words and assume it. Administered by artists (actor, opera singer, art therapist, etc.), they target elected officials or businesses.

Child of the Latin Quarter, son of an immigrant psychoanalyst and computer scientist from Morocco and Portugal, “Gérald had this desire for theater and writing from high school,” remembers Cynthia Fleury, who has known him since the age of 15. Cinephile and hungry for reading, he discovers six months before his scientific baccalaureate that “there is a place where you can do philosophy, literature, theater and which is called hypokhâgne, at the Louis-le-Grand high school”. This will be the first line of his scholarly CV which aligns Normale-Sup, Sciences Po, master of philosophy and doctorate of letters.

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Tempted by directing, Gérald Garutti first launched into it across the Channel in 2002, became for a time the playwright of the Théâtre national populaire de Villeurbanne and has not stopped since putting on plays, in the United Kingdom. as much as in France. The one who regrets “the left no longer has enough reason to give artists to commit to it” hopes that his CAP will attract collaborations. He is already very happy to see that messages are pouring in from volunteers, teachers, associations or major schools. “If we want to have a small impact, it’s time to open up, to talk to each other better. Otherwise, we will die. »

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