On les aura !
“On les aura ! – Line of fire” on tour in India and exceptional participation at the 3rd Graphic Narrative Project in Ahmedabad.
How to present such a project? “On les aura !” (Line Of Fire) is the on stage adaptation of a graphic novel based on the diary of a the first World War French soldier. In a nutshell, an exciting performance including music, speech, and live drawing projected on a screen.
“Line of Fire” was presented in Ahmedabad on the occasion of 3rd Graphic Narrative Project, a collective initiative of Alliance Française d’Ahmedabad and National Institute of Design (NID). Interestingly, it was organized in Ahmedabad at the coincidental meeting of the 3rd Graphic Narrative Project with the 100 years of the World War 1.
The duo, author Barroux and musician Julien Joubert, was on tour all over India for 10 concerts through 9 Alliances Françaises during the month of March 2014. Stéphane Barroux, the illustrator, found the diary of a WW1 soldier from the rubbish in a Parisian street in 2011. “Two men covered in grime were emptying out a basement”, the illustrator recalls. “They tipped damp papers, mouldy books, black lumps of coal and weary furniture onto the pavement. In the middle of dusty words and smiles turned yellow with time, a cardboard box caught my eye. It contained this school book and a War Cross.” One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. This notebook contains an incredibly rich human and historical testimony. It begins with these words: “August 3rd, 1914: Today we’re off. Mobilization has been declared, and itʼs time to go, leaving behind wife, children and family. My morale is good, it has to be.“
After having read it, Barroux immediately decided to illustrate the everyday account of events in this diary. The French version of the Graphic Novel came out in 2012 and the English version (sold more than 3000 copies in the first week) was launched in London in the beginning of 2014. The diary, this precious historical testimony is definitely the backbone of the adaptation. The oral transmission, without artifice or overload, makes it accessible to all. This diary reports the daily life of a man like any other, who suddenly finds himself transported to the line of fire.
When Barroux was invited to read a few parts of his graphic novel at a literary festival, he got an idea to fuse his reading with the music of Julien Joubert,. From reading aloud to reading with music to reading with illustrations and music, it was a wonderful evolution that cohered emotions, past and imaginations and presented with simplicity. Indeed, the original notebook is filled with musical references, old songs and sound images, which quickly led to the conclusion that the storytelling should be accompanied by music.
Barroux illustrates parts of the Graphic Novel (projected on a larger screen) live during the concert and Joubert plays the background score with his electric guitar making the narrative an hour-long journey into the diary of a French soldier who went on the trench. Illustrations with china ink on paper succeed in generating strong nostalgia for two époques: WW1 and the first few years of the comic strips – both usually ‘seen in black and white’ by our generation. The philosophy behind the project is to bring back to life, orally and visually, a story which could have been forgotten, to convey a shard of a collective memory. A rare witness which tells the everyday life of a simple man, with whom anyone can identify. He is not a hero.
In this performance, electric guitar sounds and brush strokes intertwine and answer one another, forming a surprising alchemy. This modern storytelling uses today’s media, and thus allows everyone to re-appropriate History. Music and drawings only suggest, leaving the spectator enough freedom to let his imagination wander, to build his own journey throughout this story, so distant but nevertheless so close.
Presented at Natarani and NID on the 7th and 8th of March respectively, this concert mesmerized many among the audiences who witnessed the blending of the music with live illustrations for the first time. Barroux also participated in a round-table with other Indian writers-illustrators during the Graphic Narrative Project. The duo will be presenting this concert in Pune, Bangalore, Chennai, Trivandrum, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Chandigarh, Chennai and will end the tour in Delhi on the occasion of the Francophonie celebration, on 21st of March 2014.