the workers’ struggle in epic theater

The return to school would be social or not, some observers had predicted. It is not sure that it is in real life, but if there is one place where the working class condition and its struggles resurface, at this start of the season, it is in the theater. At the Vieux-Colombier, the second room of the Comédie-Française, the young director Maëlle Poésy signs a must-see show at the start of autumn: 7 minutes, or how to turn a factory committee meeting into epic drama. At the Gérard-Philipe Theater in Saint-Denis, Julie Deliquet will offer, from Wednesday September 29, an adaptation of Eight hours don’t make a day, the formidable soap opera by Rainer Werner Fassbinder which follows the life and struggles of a German working-class family in the 1970s.

Let us first take the direction of Vieux-Colombier, where ten women, workers or employees of a company called Picard & Roche are waiting for us. They are captured when they are watching, with growing apprehension, the return of their spokesperson, Blanche, who is negotiating their future with the buyers of the factory in which they work.

“7 minutes” is a great moment of theater on the democratic debate, its springs and its demands

When Blanche finally reappears, after hours of negotiation, she is in a strange state. Not because the new bosses told him to close the plant or cut jobs. Everything seems to be going for the best, on the contrary. The leaders, or “Ties”, as they call them, are just expressing a seemingly innocuous demand: all jobs will be saved as long as each one agrees to reduce their daily break time by seven minutes – a break time that is then fifteen minutes.

The eleven women present in this room will have to vote, on behalf of the two hundred factory employees, for or against this proposal. They have an hour and a half to do so. A breathtaking social thriller then begins, of an never-denied intensity, which takes place entirely in these seven little minutes that seem like nothing, a painless concession, at a time when so many factories are closing. .

All are therefore about to vote, as one woman, to give up these seven minutes of unproductive time. All of them, except Blanche. Something is bothering her about this story. She decides to vote against. “Not for the seven minutes, she says. For what they represent. “ In the closed room of the room where they are gathered, the tension and the suspense rise, the spirits are heated, the arguments are sharpened, the convictions are turned, to end up making 7 minutes a great moment of theater on the democratic debate, its springs and its demands.

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