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The covid-19 pandemic has burst into our lives and is shaking up everything we do. The performing arts are hit very hard. A documentary theatre project based on a large-scale collaborative work of participants from storytelling to staging, THE 99 PROJECT is no exception and ongoing projects are on hold. Meanwhile, the covid-19 lockdown allowed THE 99 PROJECT to rethink its mission and approach. More than ever, we believe theatre can help transform organizations and meet the needs of expression, cohesion and mobilization of communities.

WHERE ARE WE NOW?

With the covid-19 crisis ongoing projects are suspended but adapt.

99 PERFUMES, Grasse.

On March 10, a first release of the play 99 PERFUMES was planned in Grasse. The invitations had been launched, a rehearsal with the students of the Lycée de Croisset had taken place…. But within a few days, crash! all the live performances were cancelled. In France, the “unlockdown’ will begin on May 11, but “public places such as restaurants, cafes and hotels, cinemas, theaters, concert halls and museums will remain closed at this stage”, and “major festivals and events with a large audience will not be able to be held at least until mid-July next ”. Waiting for the release, I slightly rework the play. The fragmentary form of 99 PERFUMES – 99 short monologues inspired by the stories of workers in the Grasse fragrance industry – enables a very flexible composition. The work of composition is a crucial step in THE 99 PROJECT: it articulates individual storytelling to collective narrative. With a different arrangement, the 99 voices resonate differently. Composing means seeking to reveal a common sense, a harmony while preserving the heterogeneity of distinct points of view.

99 LIVE LEBANON, Beirut

2020 promises to be an eventful year in Lebanon! After the October 2019 revolution which saw Lebanese men and women of all religions massively protest on the streets of big cities of the country and demand the departure of a corrupted political class, now the pandemic has brutally emptied the heart of the cities. The writing workshops for the 99 LIVE LEBANON project scheduled for spring 2020 will probably be postponed until autumn at least.

99 X HABITAT & HUMANISM, Lyon

Initiated in Lyon on February 19, 2020, THE 99 PROJECT with the Habitat & Humanism federation focuses on the adventure of encounters in the context of care for people in difficulty (social housing, old-age dependency, etc…). It is meant to renew the relational dynamics between volunteers, employees and beneficiaries of the association. The writing workshops were scheduled to take place from March to June with a performance planned in late September 2020. I’m currently thinking about alternative writing methods to accelerate the creative process.

WHAT IS NEXT?

The lockdown made it possible to start an in-depth reflection on the 99 PROJECT mission and method:  how to help individuals and organizations to transform themselves?

THE TEAM

Over the past few months, Sarah Bussy and Barbara Perraud have been actively participating in THE 99 PROJECT adventure. Discover their portraits

Barbara spent a significant part of her career in the management and programming of theaters and festivals. I met her during my studies, then lost sight of her and then found her again in 2019 at a birthday party.

Sarah’s activity mixes theatre, writing and consulting missions in businesses. I met her in 2017 in Shanghai when she joined the 99 LIVE SHANGHAI project to co-direct the composition and staging of the play.

Since the beginning of mid-March, locked in Marseille, Nice and Paris, we have taken the time to cross our ideas on THE 99 PROJECT on the basis of two important questions:

• What types of collective challenges does THE 99 PROJECT address?

• What innovative solutions does THE 99 PROJECT provide to meet these challenges?

THE INTENTION

Little by little, our “intention” becomes clearer.

THE 99 PROJECT‘s mission is to reveal and then respond to complex purposes that require the invention of a new collective narrative from heterogeneous experiences and positions. For example, challenges such as gender relations, climate change or the digital economy, present elements of complexity due to the diversity of actors, the heterogeneity of points of view, the massive scale of their human impact.

THE 99 PROJECT uses the transformative power of writing and theatre to change behaviors on a large scale: the sensitive exploration of individual stories, the shift operated by writing, the composition of an original theatrical form, the embodiment of new roles through acting, the resonance with the public, all in a joyful atmosphere…

The aim of this work is to gain flexibility in order to better explain the effectiveness of THE 99 PROJECT to stakeholders from different horizons.

For instance, THE 99 PROJECT was presented to corporate executives “How theater can help transform your organisation ?” at a webinar organised by Boston Consulting Group on April 8-9th, 2020.

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