#PrixItalia2016 Winners: Grief, moving the audience through the radio

Credits : Jean-Louis Fernandez
In “Le Chagrin” (Grief), produced by Radio France, the audience gets to listen to a woman in conversation with her brother, following their father’s death. The narration is intimate and engages the listener in an unexpected way.

The play won this year’s Prix Italia in the Radio Drama category. We looked at the ideas behind it with director Alexandre Plank.

Why did you choose this particular theme for your work?

At France Culture every year we do a programme with people who work in different theatre companies across France and we invite these people to rethink their plays in other dimensions.

This year I wanted to invite Les Hommes Approximatifs, who work on grief. At the beginning, “Grief” was a theatre play, but once we started working on it at the radio we decided to keep only two of the characters and we did a lot of improvisation. However, we never tried to make a theatre play on the radio, our work was something completely different.

How long did it take and how many people worked on this programme?

We produced Grief very quickly, over four days and three nights. We would work on improvisation during the day and then edit at night. We mostly went in the streets and tried to record situations there.

The team was a small one. There were two actors, myself as director, the chief of the theatre company, the musician of the company and four people from the radio. Mostly we worked divided in smaller groups, not all together at once.

Which were the biggest challenges?

I think that the biggest one was that when we met on the first day we did not have any idea of where this might take us. We had a small plan, of course, but that was it, for the first hours or so we did not know which direction we could choose.

However, being “blind”, saying “let’s go” is also very important when you produce something like this.

What kind of response did you get from the audience?

The response from the public was very good. The programme sounds very different from what we usually do at Radio France.

We wanted people speaking about life, and indeed, it does not feel like you are listening to actors. You get the feeling that you are listening to people like you and me.
Our objective was to touch deeply the sensibility of the listeners and I think that is what happened.

Finally, a comment about the award “Grief” received for best Radio Drama.

We were very surprised because it is a small project that we wanted to do and we did not have any expectation to get such a response from the jury.