Jean-François Peyret, Alain Prochiantz

The Heifer and the Pythagorean Treatise on Forms I Publication date : November 1, 2002

“Traité des Passions is not a play. Neither is it an essay about the dangerous liaisons between art and science, nor about their unlikely encounter. It is not even the transcription of yet another conversation between a scientist and an artist who have jumped onto the overcrowded interdisciplinary bandwagon together: for how could anyone hope to define the common ground between such completely different subjects as Ovid’s poetry and development biology?
“Instead, the theatre director experiments here with the juxtaposition between the poetic force of some early Western fables, The Metamorphoses, and several modern scientific texts. And the biologist is obliged to think and work within the framework of this experiment. Ours is a hybrid art. We have crossed dramatic with scientific literature, truth with fiction, and traditional with contemporary texts in an attempt to link them.
“We met not simply to converse, but to create something together. And that something was a theatrical production about metamorphoses, nutrition, the relations between animal and human, between Apollo and Dionysus, between Orpheus and Pythagoras. What more could we have dreamt of to make us succumb to the desire to play with forms as well as to play together? What more did we need to confirm that what we have in common is a code of conscientious professionalism and ironic distance, a minimum of tact?
“The performance took place. Let’s wager that this “notebook” containing the material we accumulated — and that sometimes takes on the form of tiny explosions — is worthy of publication. The necessary, risky job of cutting and selecting the material was done in the course of rehearsals and production work. It is now up to the readers to make their own selection, and find their own mirror.” J.-F. Peyret and A. Prochiantz

Traité des passions was first produced at Strasbourg’s Théâtre National in April 2002. It will be performed again at the Théâtre de Gennevilliers, near Paris, from 8 November to 7 December 2002.

Jean-François Peyret is a theatre director who is known for his productions based on texts by Montaigne, Lucretius, Shakespeare and W.H. Auden. He recently directed the series Traité des passions (Treatise on Passions), at MC93, a theatre in the Paris suburb of Bobigny. He is the co-author, with Jean-Didier Vincent, of Faust, une histoire naturelle. He teaches at the University of Paris-III.
Alain Prochiantz heads the department of biology at the École Normale Supérieure. He is the author of La Biologie dans le boudoir, Anatomies de la pensée, Machine-esprit and Stratégies de l’embryon.