I first came to Lille for two weeks in 1995 with a production of Shakespeare’s Henry VI and it was a beautiful experience. So when the job of director of the ‘Théâtre National Lille Tourcoing Région Nord – Pas-de-Calais’ came up in 1998 I applied and was successful. And from very early on I felt at home here both on an artistic and a personal level.
We renamed the theatre the Theatre of the North, but it could have just as well been the Theatre of the South, as Lille is also the south of the north. I found a great echo with the public who gave me their confidence and trust, and I have also built strong relationships with the Opera, the National Orchestra and the smaller theatres. There’s a great sense of openness to people who come here from overseas.
An international ambassador ….
I’m a city person and need a city to live in. Lille is cosmopolitan and culturally open to the winds of the modern world. It’s a historic crossroads of exciting cultures.
Different communities – business, educational, cultural and political – all find the place and time to mix together and it’s wonderful to belong to a big city. People here are ready to listen and have open eyes and open minds.
Proud of the Lille Academy of Dramatic Arts
Teaching is a very important part of my life and, in the 10 years since we set it up, the school has changed the face of this theatre. For the first three years we put our life and soul into it. As the first students graduated, they brought new life to the theatre and the theatre is what is today, thanks to the school.
It’s a two-way street. It keeps us on our toes, constantly questioning ourselves and stops us from becoming too institutional. We have worked to produce better actors, artists, citizens, people…10 years on we can see the real success of the school.
A personal recommendation
There’s a café, Café Karim with wooden panelling on the Place Notre Dame de la Treille in front of the cathedral where I like to sit out and drink tea. They also do good couscous.
Take a boat up and down the River Deule past former factories and industrial warehouses. It’s magical and unreal. The calm of nature is beautiful, awe inspiring and troubling. You feel like you’re on another planet and it makes you forget all about your problems.