“We are witnessing behavior that terrorizes everyone”

Jeanne Balibar, supporter of #MeTooThéâtre: “I suffered unbearable moral harassment” (Photo by Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty Images)

Candidate for the show “Game of Talents” this Saturday July 16, 2022 on TF1, Jeanne Balibar is an emeritus actress who has distinguished herself both on screen and in the world of theater. A universe in which she unfortunately witnessed revolting acts of violence against women, and which she did not hesitate to denounce.

A few weeks ago, the #MeTooThéâtre movement remembered the good memories of the public by inviting itself to the Molières stage. Isabelle Carré, mistress of ceremonies for the event, wished to place herself in support of all the women who may have been victims of attacks in her field: “I, who believe in books and who believe in the power of words, I just wanted to show you this book, Me Too Theatre, which is coming out soon and which I believe is an important tool in moving things forward, and so in that way, speaking of them, these brave women are a few among us tonight.”

A frank position, but which had been tarnished by the revelations of the #MeTooThéâtre collective, which affirmed that the speaking out of two members of the collective, who were to denounce live in front of millions of viewers the sexual and physical violence committed in the middle, was cancelled. Marie Coquille-Chambel, theater critic and feminist activist within the collective, said in particular: “We prepared a text that we sent to them and I was called back to tell me that it was not going to be possible, that I had to rewrite something. For us it was impossible to rewrite, to be censored, not to be able to speak freely about violence.”

Video. #Metothéâtre: an actor from the Comédie-Française accused of rape by YouTuber Marie-Coquille Chambel

Jeanne Balibar, early support

The disappointment of many actresses was heard on social media following what was seen as outright censorship. It must be said that the theater version of the #MeToo movement struggled to be heard, unlike that which affected the world of cinema and television. However, many personalities had supported this speech, starting with Jeanne Balibar. Known for having received the César for best actress in 2018, for her role in “Barbara”, the singer, director and actress has had a long career in the theater, and she does not keep only good memories.

“Since the #MeToo movement in cinema, like many actresses of my generation, I feel great gratitude towards the young women who have brought all these issues into the public arena. It has helped us all to understand what sometimes happened to us. To put it into words, to think about it, to decipher it – to remove from the “crypt” a certain number of more or less repressed memories in which we had sometimes locked up all this violence. My own beginnings in the theater , from this point of view, have been catastrophic”, she said in 2021 in the columns of Télérama, remembering her young years.

She was bullied

With her usual outspokenness, Jeanne Balibar returned to the treatment to which she was entitled at the start of her career, in particular from Jacques Lassalle, then administrator of the Comédie-Française: “During the entire duration of the work on Dom John, presented the following summer in the Cour d’honneur of Avignon, where I played the role of Elvire, he exerted an unbearable moral harassment towards me. Repeating at will that I was “null”, that there was nothing for me to release something worthwhile. At all sessions. So much so that Éric (Ruf, his companion at the time, editor’s note), also in the cast, and Olivier Dautrey, another actor of my generation, decided to attend all my rehearsals, in the hope that it would protect me from this violence. Roland Bertin, key actor distributed in Sganarelle, was also trying to play the firewall, without success.

Video. #metoo: speech is freed in the world of theater

She clarifies, however, that “this abuse was not overtly sexual on the part of this old gentleman on the very young woman of 23 years that I was, but anyway, it was constant insults and humiliations. Things that bothered me. prevented me from working, I was so scared… And to complete this happy picture, Andrzej Seweryn, who played the role of Dom Juan, really hit me in the first scene one time out of ten, instead of pretending. the actress confronting an actor who “forgets” to control himself in fight scenes is quite common.” And to recall with sadness how all this could have been minimized by his peers: “In the house, I was regularly told: ‘Don’t take it personally, it’s like that with all the actresses who have the leading role’ .”

She denounces the omerta behind the scenes of the theater

For her, there is a real problem in the treatment of women on the boards as well as behind the scenes. “Omerta, this word is not too much strong. It is not only valid for sexual or moral harassment but for all mistreatment linked to the hierarchies of power exerted on a set. From time to time we witness behavior that terrifies everyone. Very few of us are in a position to denounce them, because we are afraid of no longer working.” A sad observation which unfortunately often comes up when victims explain why they did not say anything at the time of the facts…

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