Dupoyet’s second work of the day, L’Orchestre en Sursis, is notably more somber. In this work she tackles the horrors of fascism as viewed from the perspective of someone imprisoned in Auschwitz. The play begins with survivor Fania Fénelon who after 30 years of freedom is only now capable to express what she experienced. Fénelon is French and doesn’t belong to any of the obvious victim centers of the holocaust: Jewish, Resistant, Communist, Etc. While this might bother some, it is perhaps important to acknowledge fascism’s ultimate incapacity to distinguish a value in human life. Fénelon is trapped in a Kafkaesque nightmare where her pleas for an explanation are answered by sharp directives to not ask.
Fénelon is chosen to join a small all female orchestra in Auschwitz. Playing piano she watches in horror as the other prisoners toil. She is directed to find joy in the music. She accomplishes this by quietly underlying statements of resistance in the work. She then must perform Schubert for Himmler, the designer of Auschwitz. She attests that she could never perform Schubert again.
Since Schindler’s List in America holocaust works often fall into the barrel of “Oscar bait.” This is not the case in France where the scars of collaboration are still at times visible in the public discourse. Dupoyet’s verve and presence is as effective in conveying these horrors as horrors lived by real people. After the performance she explains that she is often brought to French high schools, middle schools and, at times, elementary schools to perform this work. While the horrors of fascism and what occurs when human dignity loses value might feel like a lesson learned, but clearly such reminders are frightfully necessary.
L’Orchestre en Sourcis can be seen at the Albatros Theatre at 14:30