Le Tampon theatre

1979 to 1981

In 1979 and 1980 Vollard Theatre, the theatre workshop of the community arts centre (MJC), organised courses, rehearsed and performed in an auditorium which had only just been finished : the Le Tampon theatre - at the time the island’s only indoor theatre. It had just been built and adjoined the community arts centre. There was no lighting control room and equipment had to be borrowed from the Reunionese centre for cultural action. The stage was splendid however and did credit to both Ubu Roi and the Tempest. Despite an easing-off thanks to the policies of the Giscard government who wanted to be seen as more open, it wasn’t the best period for freedom of expression. The director of the community arts centre at the time didn’t want us to perform Césaire’s Tempest : "Reunion Island isn’t Martinique". He’d bought himself the script in a Saint Denis bookstore because we had refused to give him a copy. Proud as punch he’d highlighted the controversial passages with a fluorescent pen. Unluckily for him most were written by Shakespeare himself, including Caliban’s famous reply : "You taught me language; and my profit on’t is, I know how to curse". As we refused to comply the municipality cut the theatre’s electricity. That day we rehearsed with the doors open and without being able to raise the curtain. In the end the community arts centre director, a state education inspector and a right-wing town councillor informed us that the theatre grant was being stopped for "budgetary reasons". We were allowed to leave with our stage scenery. Unluckily, Kalou Pilé, a folk group strongly supported by the authorities had already taken over from us at the theatre. They had repainted the working scenery from the Tempest and thrown the rest away. Their leader Patrick Pongahet told me "you’re communists, you’re political activists".

©Théâtre Vollard 1980-2007 | Mentions légales