Benno Besson, © Jean Mayerat, 30.10.2002, Théâtre de Vidy

benno besson

art & mémoire

A Mind open on Europe, the World and the Others

I met Benno Besson when he accepted to head the Comédie de Genève. There I trained myself first, by attending his rehearsals, then as his assistant. My love for stage coaching was born. From that Geneva period I have tons of documents and notes taken during the rehearsals. I also have a few taped interviews of comedians and artists Benno Besson was working with, these constitute an original and unpublished corpus.

Dialog with Besson was a dialectical art. He gloated when he found an echo in his speaker. “This is exactly the point” was the expression he used whenever you had understood his way of thinking. And a few seconds later you would be in a counter argument to test if this resisted formulation. It was with him a game of which I will always keep a nostalgic memory. It was one of those rare moments of exceptional intensity where we were united in the essential : the theatre.

A book on the art and aesthetics of such a great XXth century artist, a shining light, is at the heart of my project. This is an ambitious project as we will translate in everlasting words the ephemeral of the theatre. Along with the book, there is research work, the meeting with his family as well as with all of those who worked with him but also, if possible, with spectators who enjoyed his work immensely and with some more reticent ones. We also have created in July 2007 an Association Bennon Besson, art & mémoire with a web site. It is a devoted to the exchange of points of view and debates on every aspect of his works including his art which he loved as the concrete expression of reality.

We want to organize different events on his work and radiant presence, to enable interested parties to follow the path of the book. I take this opportunity to thank again Marie Besson Franco, his daughter, who listened to me with interest and encouraged me in this event before the project had found its current form. Her presence will be precious all along our marvellous adventure.

The last time I was with Benno Besson was in 2005. He was directing a training course for the young comedians of the Haute École de théâtre of the French speaking Switzerland. I was saying goodbye to him after the last rehearsal, when wanting to know about my project, he asked me “So, Sima, what is your approaching angle ?” Here it is, dear Benno, here is the first drawing of my project to let people know and share what I have seen, tasted and understood of your great art.

Sima Dakkus
Coach Director