L’Empire des Lumières

Kim Kiyeong is a foreign film importer, an ordinary man like many others. His wife, Mari, is a salesperson in a car dealership. Nothing in their lives attracts attention. The couple live in dull anonymity in Seoul, a city where they blend in. Then the arrival of an email suffices to throw their ordinary existence into turmoil.

A few cryptic lines – « order number 4 » – take Kim back to what he was in the past: a spy, operating now in South Korea for over 20 years. Suddenly, this ordinary man has only 24 hours to return to his native North Korea and abandon the life he carved out for himself without anyone knowing who or what he is in fact.

Kim Kiyeong’s final 24 hours in South Korea are the focus of Arthur Nauzyciel’s production of The Empire of Light.
The playwright, Valérie Mréjen, deconstructs the plot, which unfolds like a crime novel, and offers a personal rewriting of events that oscillate between truth and subterfuge.  Arthur Nauzyciel tracks the footsteps of Kim Kiyeong and his wife Mari, a couple which innocently say goodbye to each other in the morning, then meet again radically changed in the evening. Mari has no idea who or what her husband really is. In an unconscious echo of the summons given to her husband, she too goes through her day, experiencing at the close a personal revelation that completely transforms her.

Division lies at the heart of this stage production, combining live performance and film sequences that guide the narrative. A nation, severed in two, suffers from an unhealed wound; as the hours go by a man and a woman grow further and further apart; the end is a collapse of two souls, spelling rupture and estrangement. Like two realities that collide and dislocate, truth is eroded, lies hold sway, and memories haunt the mind. Things move back and forth irreconcilably between what is and what isn’t, what was and what will be. Arthur Nauzyciel’s quest is personal, a reflection of himself. His zest for touching on the apparent normality of things, with the wave of a theatrical hand, is well-known.

Based on the novel by
KIM YOUNG-HA

Adapted by
VALÉRIE MRÉJEN ET ARTHUR NAUZYCIEL

Directed by
ARTHUR NAUZYCIEL

With

HYUN-JUN JI, MOON SO-RI, SEUNG-KIL JUNG, DONG-TAK YANG, SAVINE YANG, HAN KIM, JUNG-HOON KIM, HONG-JAE LEE

Set design
RICCARDO HERNANDEZ

Light and video design
INGI BEKK

Film
PIERRE-ALAIN GIRAUD

Sound
XAVIER JACQUOT

Costumes
GASPARD YURKIEVICH

Make-up and hair styling
BAEK JI-YOUNG

Production
National Theater Company of Korea (NTCK) et le Théâtre National de Bretagne.

Coproduction
CDN Orléans/Loiret/Centre dans le cadre de l’Année France-Corée 2015-2016.

Dates