With Woke, her first unbridled and sometimes wild play, Virginie Despentes offers Lille “consolation” and resistance in the face of the “rise of the extreme right” and the “eruptions of hatred”.

The author of Baise-moi, Les Jolies choses and Vernon Subutex is trying out a new art, after having written around ten novels and made two films adapted from her books. Tuesday evening, the premiere was very favorably received by the audience at the Théâtre du Nord, who reserved a long “standing ovation”, well beyond the three required salutes, for the actors as well as Virginie Despentes and her co-authors. (Paul B. Preciado, Julien Delmaire, Anne Pauly). This “extraordinary joy (…) this breaking of the division between the stage and the public”, it is a “collective call to change things”, assures AFP Paul B. Preciado, philosopher specializing in questions of transidentity.

On stage, in a game of mirrors with reality, four writers must create a play together. But they face a blank page, not knowing how to approach societal subjects, in “hypervigilance” in the face of “the rise of the extreme right” and social networks and their “eruptions of hatred”, explains Virginie Despentes. Among the co-authors embodied on stage, some propose to confront the problem with the trashy style dear to the writer: by staging “the rape of a cop”, suggests one, by titling the piece Work, family, homeland, try another.

The play is ultimately titled Woke, reclaiming as an identity what conservatives have used as a slur to refer to feminists, anti-racists and other “leftists.” For a long time, the characters grope, developing their fears and their intimate reflections in four monologues. “Solos” seen by Virginie Despentes as “moments of tenderness, reconciliation and consolation”.

Then the piece outlines a solution: “Make a group”, “get along” between movements of thought and “advocate joy as a remedy”, summarizes Anne Pauly, winner of the Inter prize for her first novel, Before I forget, published in 2019.

For Virginie Despentes, nothing is prohibitive: “A lot of things have changed over the last ten years in a way that people of my age did not think possible, so they can still change in ten years, in one direction or in ‘other”. The play is scheduled in Lille for five evenings, until Saturday. “I really hope that we will play it again and that we will be able to refine it and rework it,” smiles Virginie Despentes. A tour is currently being developed.