Swiss Theatre Award 2017
A scribe for the theatre
Valérie Poirier was born in Rouen in 1961 and grew up in La-Chaux-de-Fonds. She now lives in Geneva. She trained as an actor in Geneva and initially worked as a director, dramaturge and educator before turning her hand to writing plays and, most recently, other kinds of texts. Her first volume of prose, “Ivre avec les escargots”, containing 24 humorous stories from the 1970s and 1980s about her childhood and youth in La-Chaux-de-Fonds, was published in 2013. Her desire to write for the stage first manifested itself during rehearsals in which the actors developed the scripts themselves. Of the ten or so plays she has written to date, most have been performed in Geneva; most recently “Un conte cruel” (2016), which deals with domestic violence, was produced by the Comédie de Genève at the theatre POCHE/GVE. Some have been published by Bernard Campiche under the title “Loin du bal et autres pièces”. “Les Bouches”, which received the Prix de la Societé des Auteurs in 2004, was produced in 2006 by the Théâtre du Grütli. Valérie Poirier’s very first work, “Quand la vie bégaie”, earned her an Antennes théâtrales award.
She spends time on her works, often mulling them over for a considerable period. But it is always a disconcerting moment when her plays break out from the intimacy of the page and reveal themselves on stage. In 2007 she wrote a new version of “Quand la vie bégaie”, which was staged at the Théâtre du Galpon in Geneva in 2008. She also authored “Objets trouvés” (2008) for students on the drama course at the Geneva Conservatoire, and “Pièces détachées” (2012) for the Marionettes de Genève. Working in a range of genres, she composes tragicomic stories that blend poetry and irony and deal with fundamental issues – such as ageing in “Loin du bal”, which she wrote as winner of a 2006 Textes-en-scènes award. Playwrights are rare in Switzerland, and especially in the French-speaking part of the country. So Valérie Poirier’s dedication to the task over nearly a quarter of a century is especially important and valuable.
“From Geneva, with Franco-Algerian roots and a trace of a La-Chaux-de-Fonds accent, Valérie Poirier is a captivating, wise and modest person. Having started out as an actor, director and educator, she turned to writing in order to ‘cease being dependent on others’ whims’. Her work crosses genres and contexts; from everyday theatre to puppetry, from the institution to the classes of schools and colleges. Valérie Poirier offers an acute yet nuanced perspective on our world, boldly bringing to the stage topics that tradition has overlooked, or offering a novel take on universal motifs. Her sensitivity and freedom restore our faith in the power of words and the theatre.”
Mathieu Menghini, jury member