The Gap

Written by Aleshea Harris
Directed by Arnaud Meunier

The Gap is a piece in development designed to bridge the gap between a group of students in the U.S. and in France. The project is built upon a series of residencies over a two year span where the Franco-American team will collaboratively research and write a new bi-lingual performance work.

Given the recent examples of cultural spasm experienced in both countries, i.e. Charlie Hebdo, the recent Paris attacks, the Black Lives Matter movement, The Gap seeks to address an urgent question: What makes us a society? Conceptualized as an “investigative theater” project and working free from traditional production constraints, The Gap will combine poetics and politics to explore: What constitutes our sense of belonging to a country? What is meant by the word ‘‘nation?’’ How have the French and Americans built their national narratives? Their mythologies? Where do we stand in a globalized, hyper-connected world in terms of our values, our identities, our democracies?

Director Arnaud Meunier, working with playwright Aleshea Harris, will form a research group composed of young French actors (from L’Ecole de la Comédie de Saint-Etienne) and, from the U.S. (at the California Institute of the Arts) five actors and five collaborating artists (including designers, video artists, and musicians).

The Gap is created in collaboration with Ecole de la Comédie da Saint-Etienne with support from the FACE Contemporary Theater Fund and the Cultural Services of the French Embassy.

Artistic Leads

Arnaud Meunier became the Director of the Comédie deSaint-Étienne – a National Center for Dramatic Art – and of its Advanced School of Dramatic Art – in January 2011. There, he developed a new project in which creation and transmission of knowledge are intrinsically linked. The dialogue between different aesthetics and generations, the renewing of theatrical styles, the discovery of new authors, the daily presence of artists, the will to open and share Theatre with the largest and most varied of populations, are the key themes of the project he is currently implementing. After gaining a degree in political science, he began training to become an actor and, in 1997, founded the Compagnie de la Mauvaise Graine. This gained rapid acclaim from the press and professionals at the 1998 Avignon festival, and his company was then offered a permanent residency at the Blanc-Mesnil Forum in Seine-Saint-Denis, gaining the support of Théâtre Gérard Philipe (directed by Stanislas Nordey). The company went on to develop its creative work on contemporary authors and will subsequently be a resident at the Maison de la Culture of Amiens, associated with the Comédie de Reims and the Théâtre de Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines. Faithful to his commitment to living authors, Arnaud Meunier perpetuates a companionship with the authors he most cherishes – producing plays by Pier Paolo Pasolini, Michel Vinaver, Oriza Hirata and Eddy Pallaro. In parallel, he also works in Opera as a stage director or associated director. Fluent in three languages (French, German and English), he has, over the past ten years, worked in Japan, the Netherlands, Germany, Algeria, Italy, Austria, England, Qatar, Norway and Morocco.

Aleshea Harris (American playwright) received an MFA in Writing for Performance from California Institute of the Arts. She is currently working on projects commissioned by American Conservatory Theater and CalArts Center for New Performance. Her work has been presented at the Costume Shop at American Conservatory Theater, Playfest at Orlando Shakespeare Theater, VOXfest at Dartmouth, the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, La Comédie de Saint-Étienne in France, REDCAT, the Skirball Center and in the 2015 anthology, The BreakBeat Poets: New American Poetry in the Age of Hip-Hop. Harris teaches in the CalArts School of Theater and through CalArts’ Community Arts Partnership (CAP).