“AFTER my first reading of Amélie Nothomb’s novel Stupeur Et Tremblements (Fear & Trembling), I felt it had a deep connect with my life, and it seemed the words were projecting my being. I could immediately relate to the writer’s autobiographical account of living in two separate worlds, both her own, the cultural shocks, change in traditions and systems and the way it affects a human being,’’ reflects Layla Metssitane.
The actor is here on the invitation of the Alliance Francaise, to present the monologue ‘Fear and Trembling’, which she has adapted for stage, has directed and is playing five characters.
Of Moroccan origin and now a citizen of France, Metssitane has interpreted poetic, classical and contemporary works and in 2006, formed the Company Théâtre des Hommes and has been travelling with this play across the world since 2012.
The play, adapted from Nothomb’s novel, explains Metssitane, has a universal story, with which people connect irrespective of their country, “from Australia to Guatemala, I had the audience telling me, how they found it to be their story,’’ reflects Metssitane, who says the play tells the story of Amélie, who has finished her studies in Belgium and decides to travel back to Japan, a country she knows since she was born there, in order to work. She gets a one-year work contract with the Yumimoto Company. This job, more than she hopes for, will bring her many surprises, from which she will learn various lessons…
‘Fear and Trembling’, explains the actor, is a humble, funny and intelligent point of view of a young woman confronted with a new world.
“The message it carries could be: Let’s observe and listen carefully, before we hastily judge the other. This is what we tried to do, in bringing Nothomb’s words on stage, the Belgian exiled in Japan, the woman exiled from childhood, and her wonderful ability to reinvent life, drown pain into a beautiful child’s laughter.All this is what we tried to conjure up on stage,’’ says Metssitane.
The actor admits it was a lot of hard work to give this work shape, and it was a creative effort she wanted to do all alone and deliver, “I, too, have two cultures, and as you can’t choose between your mother and father, it’s not possible to choose between the country you have chosen to live your life, or one you were born in.”
Metssitane plays five characters; three of men and two of women, one of Nothomb and her superior at work in Japan, and says French is her language or weapon of emancipation.
“I start with my culture, with a black naqaab, then transform my face like a Japanese, with white, and later wear a business suit with stilettos, I play with it all, it’s all the face of the same coin, I want to present this fact,’’ signs off the actor, who hopes to take this plays someday back home to Morocco.
The play will be staged on September 21 at 6.30 pm at Alliance Francaise, Sector 36.