Swiss Theatre Awards

Gabi Bernetta

Swiss Theatre Award 2018

Anne Bisang

Freedom and emancipation


Anne Bisang was born in Geneva in 1961 and grew up in Yokohama and Beirut. Returning to Geneva, she studied at the École Supérieure d’Art Dramatique (ESAD). After various acting jobs she made her directorial début in 1987 with “WC Dames”; performed by Compagnie du Revoir, which she set up along with Valérie Poirier (Theatre Award winner 2017) and two other women, it was a considerable success. For twelve years, from 1999 to 2011, she was the first female (and youngest ever) theatre director of the Comédie de Genève, where she also hosted young local theatre practitioners such as Maya Bösch, Denis Maillefer and, in 2006, “Méphisto/rien qu’un acteur” by the young Mathieu Bertholet. She has been artistic director of the Théâtre populaire romand (TPR) in La Chaux-de-Fonds since 2013.

Anne Bisang has long been a combative – and occasionally controversial – champion of the interests of theatre in general and women in particular. For her, TPR’s importance derives from its network and collaborations across French-speaking Switzerland. She invites guest directors to La Chaux-de-Fonds, offers residencies, directs in her own right, and arranges guest appearances for the productions. In 2017 she co-produced “Le Direktør”, based on a script by Lars von Trier, with Oskar Gómez Mata (also one of this year’s award winners); it was a triumphant success at the La Bâtie festival in Geneva and has since gone on tour – and made it onto the shortlist for this year’s Swiss Theatre Encounter. Her most recent directorial work, “Elle est là”, is also being shown in La Grange de Dorigny, Neuchâtel and Delémont. For all her single-minded persistence in pursuit of what matters to her, Anne Bisang’s productions are also shot through with humour. And she offers an upbeat view on the #MeToo debate, noting that there are already many more female theatre directors and producers, and believes the current focus on the issue can help to change attitudes throughout the theatre.

“For her, theatre is a social and civic magnet: committed, fierce and demanding. It has the vigour and energy to shake up ideas and preconceptions. A school of freedom and emancipation, as she might say. For her, theatre is a place to map out the identities of a region, like the Neuchâtel mountains, with its demands, aspirations and dreams, nurturing a togetherness that is both stimulating and poetic. For her, theatre is above all a collective enterprise, an enabler of encounters with the lives and words of creative people or souls yearning for an elsewhere and another way of being. For Anne Bisang, theatre affirms the urgency of participation in the world, whatever latitude we inhabit.”

Anne Fournier, Jurymitglied
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