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Le temps des cerises (Cherries Season)

December 2012

"Le temps des cerises" (Cherries Season) is a play by Niels Arestrup; it was played at the Théâtre de la Madeleine, in Paris, in 2008. It is a deep and moving exploration of an artistic calling (here painting) and of how it can be experienced. Two characters are coping with it, both with difficulties though in two different ways.

They are Monsieur Julien, once a successful painter but who is now aging and lacking inspiration, and Jane, a young woman who would have liked to be a painter. Jane managed to get hired  as Monsieur Julien's housekeeper during summer holidays because she is fascinated by one of his paintings. Monsieur Julien is intially reluctant to any communication but she gradually manages to get accepted in his universe, and in his workshop; he eventually helps her to paint...


Through their interactions and discussions, they both show that they experience painting as something demanding and imperative; it is however also frightening to them because it actually requires them to express what is deepest and sometimes most painful in them. He gives in to its call, she has long refused it, but painting leaves none of them in peace, it is also a fight.  

To my knowledge, the play's text has not been published, which is a pity. 

The following short excerpts are a good illustration of its message. 

Excerpt 1:

Monsieur Julien : Why do you want to paint ?

Jane : Well, I don’t know

MJ : No, no, don’t say « I don’t know ». If something is consuming you, you want to know what it is. If you do not find it, it’s nothing, it does not exist. You were regarding painting as your calling, as your life, why ?

J: I don’t want to answer ; and I must go...

MJ : Why ?

J : I was afraid,  are you ok with that ?

MJ : No, fear is not ok... It’s going beyond “I don’t know”, beyond fear, searching for the unknown, looking for nothing else than your own limit. There is nothing apart from that, you understand, nothing. No technique, no rigor, no imagination, no skill, no talent. There is nothing than this fucking pain and this horrible trip deep inside of you. You pay a high price for it, with your body, your brain, your life, your bones. Painting eats you and gnaws all of you till the bones but you keep coming back to it. You submit to it because it is more necessary than yourself… it will leave you nothing, not a tear, not a silence that will not belong to it ; that’s painting.

J: I don’t want to paint any more ; I don’t want much else anyway

MJ : Ok then, make kids, go on holidays, get yourself the new Twingo... but don’t bother me.

J: Oh stop it ! This way of despising others is unbearable. And you, what do you want, what do you care if I paint or not ?

MJ : You must go and look at it, Jane, you must know if you don’t want to regret. This is why you came here. Mind you: I am not despising anybody: I too would have liked to be passionate about the price of mussels, the weather, the elections of industrial tribunal representatives, holidays in Ré island; the problem is that  I don’t care. This happiness is not for me, and believe me, I regret it. If I could, just for one hour, put my ass on a chair and do crosswords, I would kiss the ground from gratitude.

Excerpt 2:

Jane : You can’t stifle these things. Those desires, they are teeming in your guts  all your life. You think you can manage and then, because of one word, one breaks in tears…We do not give up our dreams, we learn how to live besides them but they stay there. A dream can kill, it is dangerous, all this force that does not know where to go

Excerpt 3:

Monsieur Julien : Jane, there is only one thing in the world that you own and that no one else does, it’s yourself. And all this is about being yourself. Don’t be prejudiced about your capacity to find. Search, show the heart as you see it.

J: I don’t know how to do it.

MJ: Never « I don’t know », always « I am trying ». Don’t expect it’s going to be easy but, if you are respectful of your own nature, you’ll paint. People may not like it, you may not be famous, but you‘ll paint, I can tell you.

J: But I don’t want to paint for myself

MJ: Don’t bother about this. If you are sincere, others will see it. Success does not belong to you, it’s your destiny, you cannot control it; don’t worry about it then.

J : I won’t manage

MJ : May be not but that’s not my problem. I am offering you the glass of wine but I can’t drink it for you.


#1 luquin 2013-04-29 18:41
Ca y est, je suis déjà dans la pièce et un peu frustrée de ne pas en savoir plus mais je reconnais là le phénomène de la passion, ce moteur si intransigeant qui vous envoie au-delà de ce qu'on imagine et vous transporte dans l'inconnu total.


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