// Click on the image to start video //
The subject of war, especially young girls in war, is something that we don't see being depicted often. In "Ici Les Aubes Sont Plus Douces (Here the Dawn is Merciful)." The harsh backdrop of war makes a dramatic contrast to the carefree nature of the young female heroines and their well-meaning yet uptight leader in battle, Mr. Vaskov. For an hour and a half, I was transported into the wilderness. Wilderness of the unknown, of their emotions, and wilderness of hope. A hope that one day they will wake up in a world more forgiving, where dawn greets them with its gentle light; a world where no girl should ever have to take up arms as if guns are mere dolls.
All photographs & Videos courtesy of "Ici Les Aubes Sont Plus Douces"
Words by Diana Rovanio
It was Tuesday evening when friends of mine invited me to see a play. Though I have lived in Paris for the past six years, I haven't been to the theater very often. So this was an invitation that I couldn't resist. The play is the first ever French adaptation of the classic Russian novel, "Here The Dawn is Merciful," by Boris Vassiliev. This French adaptation was created by Maurice Lauricella and Olivia Combes in 2015.
The scene started with a simple phone call, which introduced us to Vaskov.
Vaskov is the eternal face of a man who lives in constant fear that his existence will disappear in vain. Hardened by war, he clings to rules, to keep everything in line. But his stern mask often betrayed by his endearing awkwardness. He relays messages to his superior (voice of Philippe Caubère), the only connection to the world from this desolate place. It became apparent that Vaskov though an excellent soldier, is clueless when it comes to understanding life beyond duties and rules.
We then meet Maria, a widow who lives in this grim woods. She is the rock, a figure of comfort to Vaskov and the girls. But most of all she is a woman dealing with the complexities of her own emotions. The war dealt her both happiness and sorrow. Maria represents countless of women in war juggling their life between loss and uncertainty.
Then, enter the brave girls. Spirited, naive, and most of all young- too young to have been exposed to the brutality of war. Some of these girls haven't even reached the age of sixteen when they took up arms and wore red on their lips to "not die ugly".* From all walks of life, they come, united by fate. The naivety of youth tainted by their grief, the fire in their belly for revenge, but neither kill the resilience of their soul. These young women; soldiers; who dream of love, of honor. Of that majestic day when the war ends and they can go back to wearing dresses and dance in a ball.
The set of the play in its modesty functions brilliantly. It alternates from camp to forest, refuge and battlefield in swift motions.
What was also very interesting to me, is how the light also becomes an actor; Its menacing shadows conjure a powerful presence, ever moving, unpredictable. Its presence becomes more palpable, as there is no face to be associated, no person to be blamed or hated. Only shadows that bring darkness and death, such as war itself.
Another interesting factor is the sounds that were used to create the intensity of the ambiance. Especially the heartbeat effects of the young women and Vaskov. The music, as the composer has intended, breathes the hopes and fear of the characters*.
I left the theater moved by the experience. To my friends who are in Paris, I highly recommend that you go see this original play. Dramatic as it is, there is a lot of humor and laughter that makes for for a well-rounded combo for a roller coaster of emotions.