stupeur et tremblements


February 5th, 6th & 7th, 2015, 8 p.m.

@ Le Cercle Molière (340 Provencher Boulevard)

in partnership with  Le Cercle Molière

In the dark, a woman veiled in black. At first we only see her eyes, looking at  Fear and trembling, the autobiographical book by Amélie Nothomb. The actress reads: "All the Japanese women are not beautiful... If one must admire the Japanese woman, it’s because she doesn’t commit suicide...".

While delicately whitening her face, Layla Metssitane gives life and movement to the words of the main character: hired by a Japanese company, she thought she was hired to be a translator and ends up cleaning up the toilets. Between revolt and stoicism, prisoner of a "sadistic system", the young woman shares her daily humiliations: "Your life is nothing. No period of time counts that is shorter than ten thousand years."

*Presented in French with English subtitles

Presented by : 
Adapted, directed and interpreted by:
from Amélie Nothomb's novel


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Tickets: $30 (general admission), $25 (AFM members and students)
Ticket office: 204-233-8053
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Click here  for Cercle Molière general information.

''Amélie Nothomb : mask games and multiculturalism''
Conference by Dr Adina Balint-Babos
*In French Only

Thursday, February 5th, 2015 at 7 p.m.
@ Le Cercle Molière

''Occident-Orient. Stupeur et tremblements. Chocs culturels. Jeux de masques. Amélie Nothomb est un phénomène littéraire. Auteure de plus de vingt romans, elle ne cesse de nous séduire par ses réflexions originales sur un « moi » au croisement de plusieurs langues et cultures. À supposer que son œuvre s’attache à saisir « les ambiguïtés interculturelles » (P. Imbert), qu’est-ce que cela veut dire d’être écrivaine et artiste dans le monde globalisé ?''

Adina Balint-Babos (Ph.D. University of Toronto, 2009) teaches modern and contemporary literature at the University of Winnipeg. She is interested by creative writing, the relationship nourished by writers with the art, as well as multiculturalism and the francophonie.

LAYLA METSSITANE is an actress and director of Moroccan origin. After her legal situation in France was stabilized when she was fifteen, she took part in her first theater workshop at the Centre Dramatique National of Dijon. Later, under the direction of various theater figures, she interpreted poetic, classical and contemporary works, such as A Midsummer Night’s Dream (William Shakespeare), Le Par-tage de Midi (Paul Claudel), Phèdre (Jean Racine), and Antigone (Sophocles)... In 2007, she directed a play around Aimé Césaire called Palabre en Négritude presented in Fort-de-France and then at the UNESCO. The same year, she created another play around the poetic works of Taslima Nasreen, with three actresses, in three languages (French, Arabic, and sign language). In 2010, she adapted Fear and Trembling by Amélie Nothomb to the stage. This show has been on an international tour since 2012 throughout Europe, South America and now Canada.


"The satire and masochism permeating the text are interpreted with a lot of charm, by an artist of relentless precision."  L’Humanité

"As precise as a tea ceremony, it is to be contemplated, to be listened to and savored slowly and with delight."  Le Figaro

"Fear and trembling» found a second wind through Layla Metssitane’s generosity. The story of this young woman who wants to become God and ends up as a toilet cleaner is made into a quality theater show, both moving and captivating." Un Fauteuil pour l’Orchestre

"The actress did the adaptation herself, and she also directed this singular artistic project mixing the West and the East. We love the very elegant interpretation, the sober set, the audacious approach."  A Nous Paris

"A moment of grace: Layla Metssitane is a wonderful story teller. Her sensitivity and the poetry she expresses charm us. The graciousness of her moves, the depth of her voice, and the creativity of her direction take us into an enrapturing moment."  Au-Théâ

" Merci à Layla pour son immense talent et pour l'émotion torrentielle qu'elle a donné à mon texte! Je suis bouleversée et heureuse." Amélie Nothomb

" Ce fut un délice très troublant...très très exaltant. Bravo et merci." Alain Corneau

Click here for a clip from the show.

STUPEUR ET TREMBLEMENT (Fear and Trembling)  |   Alain CORNEAU  (2002)
January 28th, 2015  |  7 p.m.  @ l'Alliance Française du Manitoba

Alain Corneau's Fear and Trembling is an adaptation of the autobiographical book by Amélie Nothomb in which the main character, hired by a Japanese company, thought she was hired to be a translator and ends up cleaning up the toilets.

*In French with English subtitles



Winter 1990. In Brussels, Amélie Nothomb has finished her studies in medieval roman philology. She decides to travel back to Japan in order to work, a country she knows since she was born there. She gets a one year work contract for the Yumimoto company. This job, more than she hope for, will bring her many surprises, from which she will learn various lessons... The main character is, of course, Amélie Nothomb herself, who writes autobiographically.

In the first lines of the novel, she describes the hierarchical structure of the Yumimoto company:


Mister Haneda was the superior of Mister Omochi, who was the superior of Mister Saito, who was the superior of Miss Mori, who was my superior. As for myself, I was nobody’s superior. One could state this from a different perspective. I followed the order of Miss Mori’s, who followed the orders of Mister Saito’s, and so on, with the added detail that orders could, skip hierarchical levels.

As a result, at the Yumimoto company, I followed everyone’s orders."


«- From then on, you don’t speak Japanese anymore.

I look him with round eyes:

- Sorry?

- You don’t know Japanese anymore. Is that clear?

- Well, my knowledge of your language is what got me hired at Yumimoto!

- I don’t care. I order you not to understand Japanese anymore.

- That’s impossible. No one can obey such an order.

- There is always a way to obey. That’s what western brains should understand. "

(Mister Omochi to Amélie Nothomb, p. 20)

"Everything is one hundred percent true! For this is story, I had no need for imagination. I actually worked there, in 1990, it was one of the largest Japanese companies. This book contains in essence what would happen to me later..."

"Yes, this book takes on the Japanese corporate culture, but not on Japan at all."

(Interview with Amélie Nothomb by Sébastien Ministru, for Télémoustique, August 1999)


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