In Carhaix, behind the scenes of the Sérusier high school theater option

Tuesday, September 27, 1:15 p.m. Erwan Thomas, the French teacher in charge of the theater option at the Sérusier high school in Carhaix, leads us to the rehearsal room, on the first floor of building C. This is the second year that he coordinates the theater option, a sector whose reputation is second to none. “I replaced Corinne Legret, who held this option in high school for 15 years, he underlines. She left an important mark there and I am still in touch with her. It is reassuring for me. She gives me advice whenever I ask her.

Ambitious course

Unlike the theater workshops that some students follow in college, the option constitutes a “more ambitious specialty course” which mobilizes students two to three hours a week, depending on the level. A work also sanctioned by a coefficient 4 in the baccalaureate. In addition to the sessions with their tutor, the students attend six shows at La Passerelle, in Saint-Brieuc. They are also coached, all year round, by two professional actresses from the workshop of possibilities (Morlaix), Elsa Amsallem and Charlotte Petitat. “There is a desire to raise the students’ skills,” Erwan points out. With their help, the students co-construct a piece presented at the Glenmor in May or June”.

“A very free class”

Gradually, students join the teacher in this space formed by two adjoining rooms. Lola, 16, started the option last year. “I like to express myself. It’s a very free and creative class where you can free your mind,” she says. There are no desks or blackboards here. This lack of furniture is more reminiscent of a small gymnasium than a classroom. You have to be able to walk around and gesticulate at your ease. And besides, the session begins with a meditation exercise in a circle. The students form a circle with their teacher until they reach a level of “mindfulness”. “It’s a bit sectarian at first,” jokes the teacher. The students lend themselves to the game, inhaling and exhaling in harmony. “Do you feel your anchor? asks Erwan. We have to make a hole in the ground, feel our body well! The exercise is not in vain. “I feel more alive,” Shyna breathes.

“A different relationship with students”

The next moment, the students are invited to occupy the space by walking or running. They must then stop all movement as soon as the teacher asks them to, but without losing sight of the need to occupy the space. “Theatre is an art of space”, insists the teacher. “The theater option allows you to work differently. The body holds a central place, he argues. Here, intellectual labor is united with bodily labour”. The teacher adds that the option also offers “a different relationship to the students. They have to have confidence, otherwise they won’t take risks. It’s never easy to be watched by others. The students know that they will be judged positively”. A small air of freedom floats in the room. Zaïwenn suggested that we could work in socks, and was quickly emulated.

“The theater allows me to breathe”

Once the warm-up is complete, it’s time for “serious” things. Erwan distributes to the class a passage from Shakespeare’s “Hamlet”. Divided into small groups, the students have about ten minutes to think about a scenography and redouble their creativity, some not hesitating to improvise real stagings”. Solenn, 15, from La Feuillée, is thrilled. “In the other classes, we are seated all the time. The theater allows me to breathe and helps me gain self-confidence! “.

In Carhaix, behind the scenes of the Sérusier high school theater option

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