Joël Maillard

Joel Maillard - Entete
© BAK / Charlotte Krieger

Joël Maillard

Uncanny stage worlds

Swiss Performing Arts Award 2021

Joël Maillard was born in the canton of Fribourg in 1978 and is now an actor, director and author living in Lausanne. He joined an amateur theatre group at a young age. He completed his training in “art dramatique” at the conservatory in Lausanne in 2004 and has been writing since 2006. More than a dozen of his texts have been performed to date. He often takes to the stage himself in the works he directs, which conjure up a unique world that is part-Beckett and part-science fiction. In 2010 he founded Compagnie Snaut to produce his own texts; it receives funding from the City of Lausanne and Canton of Vaud under a multi-year contract. Joël Maillard sometimes writes for others as well, and can be seen acting in productions in French-speaking Switzerland by, to name but a few, Robin Lescouët, Jean-François Peyret, Guillaume Béguin and Denis Maillefer.

His works are both unsettling and seductive, with a distinct humour that he develops out of the raw material for his subjects. Often, that consists of found objects such as a cardboard box in “Quitter la Terre” (2017), in which Joëlle Fontannaz and Joël Maillard claim to have found their story. Joëlle and Joël take their audience on a journey to one of the favourite themes of the science fiction genre: the utopia of a new social order. The success of “Quitter la Terre” led in 2018 to an invitation to the Sélection suisse in Avignon and the Swiss Theatre Encounter in Zurich. “Les Univers” (2021) is about a dilettante pop group covering an anthology of French chansons under the title “D’autres mondes sont possibles Vol. 1”. Meanwhile “Imposture Posthume” (2021) takes a fictional turn, imagining a 121-year-old Joël Maillard in the year 2099. For all the craziness of his texts, the stage universes that arise out of them are captivating.

Joël Maillard’s theatre is a promise. As we emerge from the lockdown that has transformed our planet into a universe as strange as some of his texts, his talent for telling stories, exploring new forms and his irrepressible need to show off what has never before been tried out on stage will be there to remind us of what really matters: the power of speech that binds us together; the discovery of the other that we marvel at; and, despite the all-too-necessary disenchantment of vanished utopias, our insatiable need to give form to the meeting of possibilities beyond the speed of light. His theatre is the promise of a festival for our worlds to come.

Georges Grbic, jury member