Caroline Guiela Nguyen
Caroline Guiela Nguyen has written and directed for the stage and screen. Her works manifest a passion for both fiction and the real, which she explores conjointly by bringing together amateur and professional actors coming from different social, geographic, cultural and spiritual horizons, so that, in her own words, ‘different worlds should meet and together we try to invent a common space’. Her singular devising process involves letting the fiction emerge directly from the work she undertakes with her actors. Though she has both feet securely anchored in the real, she insists that the greatest arm we possess today is our imagination: what indeed would become of us humans if we were no longer able to imagine what being human meant?
Caroline started out as a sociology student before joining the drama school attached to the Théâtre National de Strasbourg. In 2009, she created her own theatre company, Les Hommes Approximatifs, which has today swelled to include Claire Calvi, Alice Duchange, Juliette Kramer, Benjamin Moreau, Jérémie Papin, Antoine Richard, Jérémie Scheidler and Manon Worms. Their work, drawing on their own life stories, gives centre stage to bodies and histories that the theatre has generally paid little attention to. Each new project leads them into new worlds, and directly out of these worlds come new actors with whom they share the stage on works such as: ‘Se souvenir de Violetta’ (2011), ‘Ses Mains’, ‘Le bal d’Emma’ (2012), ‘Elle brûle’ (2013), ‘Le chagrin’ (2015), ‘Mon grand amour’ (2016), ‘SAIGON’ (2017).
Since 2015, Caroline has collaborated with the playwright-director Joël Pommerat and his company Louis Brouillard, as well as with Jean Ruimi on the creation of new performances at the Maison Centrale d’Arles Prison, including ‘Désordre d’un futur passé’ and ‘Marius’.
In 2016, along with Alexandre Plank and Antoine Richard, she wrote a work for radio, ‘Le Chagrin (Julie et Vincent)’ for the public radio station, France Culture, as part of its “Radiodrama” programme. It was awarded the Prix Italia celebrating new works for the radio and the Grand Prix de la Société des gens de lettre, both in 2016.
‘SAIGON’, her company’s most recent show, was extremely well received both during the Festival Ambivalence(s) organised by the Comédie de Valence Theatre where it premiered and during the 71st edition of the Festival d’Avignon where it then transfered. It is currently on tour in France and throughout the world (including China, Vietnam, Lithuania, Belarus and Germany), and have reached 170 performances. ‘SAIGON’ was nominated at the Molières, the principal French theatre award ceremony, in three different categories (best production in a public – subsidized – theatre, best visual creation and best living French author) and won the Georges Lherminier Prize awarded by the Association Professionnelle de la Critique de Théâtre, Musique et Danse (Best production created outside Paris). Caroline Guiela Nguyen was also awarded the SACD’s Best New Theatre Talent prize in 2018 (Société des Auteurs et Compositeurs Dramatiques). She had previously been nominated at the Molières in the category of best staging for ‘Elle brûle’.
She is currently working on a new dramatic cycle with her company Les Hommes Approximatifs, FRATERNITY, Fantastic Tales, out of which three new works are planned: a film shot with inmates of the Maison Centrale d’Arles Prison, and two theatre projects in close collaboration with partners like Odéon – Théâtre de l’Europe or The Schaubühne Theatre in Berlin and further afield, from France and Europe.
Caroline Guiela Nguyen is currently associate artist at the Odéon-Théâtre de l’Europe, the Schaubühne Theatre in Berlin and, until May 2020, a member of the Artistic Collective attached to the Comédie de Valence – CDN Drôme Ardèche Theatre. Les Hommes Approximatifs Theatre Company is an associate company at the Comédie – CDN de Reims Theatre. Caroline Guiela Nguyen was nominated to the grade of Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French Ministry of Culture in 2016.