‘Battue La Terre’: A fusion of tennis and theatre

- April 14, 2024
| By : Idrees Bukhtiyar |

The French play, enthralls audiences at the RK Khanna Tennis Stadium, through a distinctive method of storytelling

LAST SHOT: Two souls confront each other for the last time before parting ways

At a special event, Alliance Française de Delhi, which seeks to promote the French language in India, combined tennis and theatre at the RK Khanna Tennis Stadium in the Capital.

The play, titled Battue La Terre by Compagnie Étéya, marked its debut in Delhi through a collaboration with the French Embassy in India, the French Institute in India, the Embassy of Switzerland in India, and the Indo-French Chamber of Commerce & Industry.

Battue La Terre translates to the clay surface upon which tennis is played.

In Battue La Terre, two souls confront each other for the final time on the familiar grounds of the tennis court. They challenge, unravel, and ultimately summon the courage to bid farewell amid an ever-evolving moment.

This fusion of theatre and tennis portrays a confrontation between two individuals who once cherished each other but are now parting ways. It encapsulates moments of regret, fear, and anger, intertwined with expressions of enduring love, albeit expressed differently by each character. It serves as a final reckoning and a poignant declaration of love.

The play commences as actor Lionel Fournier, portraying Eliott, invites his co-actor Chloé Zufferey, embodying Camille, to engage in one last tennis match before parting ways.

Eliott’s character reminisces about how Camille’s mother intervened when he contemplated ending their relationship, hinting at underlying tensions with their respective families that may have influenced their story.

The actors delivered their lines in French, with English subtitles provided on the tennis court scoreboard for the convenience of the audience.

The narrative delves into their minor quarrels, familial conflicts, and cherished memories.

Patriot had the opportunity to converse with Swiss-based artists during their visit to Delhi.

“This is the second time for both of us. I visited Kolkata 12 years ago, and Chloé went to Puducherry a few years back for a training course with the Conservatoire National d’art Dramatique de Paris. We immensely enjoy performing here, engaging in wonderful exchanges with the audience, and playing at remarkable venues like the RK Khanna Tennis Stadium in Delhi. What a pleasure,” said Lionel.

When questioned about choice of tennis as a medium to narrate this tale, Lionel explains that tennis offers a captivating aesthetic.

“It’s a symmetrical space, equitable on both sides. Each individual possesses their own platform to express themselves, a realm of autonomy yet interconnectedness with the other. Moreover, the net holds profound symbolism,” he elaborated.

Chloé, aged 28, elucidates the purpose of staging this theatrical endeavour in India.

“The aim aligns with the missions of the Alliances Françaises, as we perform upon their invitation. It serves as a means to disseminate Francophone culture and language through a cultural and artistic spectacle.”

ACTORS: The play features Swiss actors Lionel Fournier & Chloé Zufferey

She believes that such endeavours can foster cultural ties between India and Switzerland.

“I believe such initiatives can indeed foster stronger ties. Several representatives from the Swiss embassy attended the Delhi performance, indicating an appreciation for organising such events,” she remarked.

The distinctive storytelling approach received immense adoration from the audience. The play was also recently staged in Mumbai and Puducherry, further amplifying its acclaim.