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Interview with Mélanie Doutey – Haim In the Light of the Violin

Mélanie Doutey - Haim In the Light of the ViolinFrench director Gérald Garutti returns to the print room following his critically acclaimed 2014 production of Notes From Underground to tell the true story of violinist prodigy and Holocaust survivor Haïm Lipsky – a Polish Jew born in 1922 into a poor working-class family, who became a passionate violinist, and survived the hell of the death camps thanks to music. The production makes its UK Premiere after five years of performances in France and Switzerland, thanks to a brand new translation by Christopher Hampton.

This musical tale, mixing classical pieces and klezmer melodies, is a testimony of survival through art, of hope preserved in the heart of darkness, and of the importance of musical heritage.

Mélanie Doutey (two-time-nominee for the César-award for Most Promising Actress) tells Haim’s story on stage, accompanied by four musicians: the virtuoso violinist Yaïr Benaïm, international classical concert pianist Dana Ciocarlie, and the renowned klezmer duo “The Mentshs” Alexis Kune and Samuel Maquin.

Mélanie recently took time out to answer a few questions about her career and Haim In the Light of the Violin.

Q: You have performed on stage and film. Which is your favourite role from each?
Mélanie: I have been quite lucky to find work in both industries and both screen and stage are very important to me. I need them both.

One of my favorite experience in cinema was working with Claude Chabrol in La Fleur du Mal. It was one of his last movies with Nathalie Baye and Suzanne Flon. Working with one of the pioneers of the French New Wave film movement left me with incredible memories. On stage, l loved saying the words of Ibsen in The Master Builder with Jacques Weber.

Q: How did you first become involved with Haïm – In The Light Of A Violin?
Mélanie: It was the passion of Gerald Gerruti’s writing that drew me into the project. Working with him on the text was a great pleasure and I love the precision of his direction. Between his inspiration and guidance, and the joy of working with those incredible musicians every evening made sure I didn’t regret becoming involved.

Q: What can you tell us about the production?
Mélanie: This ‘musical tale’ tells the true story of Holocaust survivor Haïm Lipsky – a Polish Jew born in 1922 into a working-class family. Thanks to his passion for music, and his extraordinary skill with the violin, he went on to survive the hell of the Lodz ghetto and Auschwitz, where he played in the camp orchestra.

Q: Can you tell us about the music within Haïm – In The Light Of A Violin?
Mélanie: Haïm mixes classical pieces and klezmer melodies in a testimony of survival through art, of hope preserved in the heart of darkness, and of the importance of musical heritage. For me this show speaks about passion about the power of music, the power of people to endure hardship and their ability to transmit their experiences through music. It’s not something we should forget because there are still today “workers” who live as slaves and endure incredible suffering.

Q: Why should theatregeors get along to see Haïm – In The Light Of A Violin?
Mélanie: It’s a truly inspiring story that has never been told in England before. It’s so rare that the best of French theatre comes to London so this could be a unique experience for many London theatregoers. Plus it’s only on for a short run so you risk missing out if you don’t get your ticket quickly!

Q: What next for you in 2016?
Mélanie: When I get back from London I begin a French movie with director Laurent Tuel. Then hopefully I will be back on stage.


Mélanie Doutey ‘s theatre credits include Lady Windermere’s Fan (Palais Royal), Intimate Strangers (Théâtre de l’Atelier), Qu’elle aille au diable, Meryl Streep! (Laurent Lafitte), Le Rattachement (Théâtre national de Nice), The Master Builder (Théâtre Hébertot), A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Théâtre de la Porte-Saint-Martin) and Festen la suite (Théâtre national de Nice). Her film credits include Les gens qui s’aiment, Leïla, Le frère du guerrier, Guillemette, La fleur du mal, Narco, El Lobo, Il ne faut jurer… de rien!, Clara Sheller, Président, Fair Play, On va s’aimer, Ce soir, je dors chez toi, Ma place au soleil, Santa Closed, RTT, Le bal des actrices, Aux yeux de tous, Jamais le premier soir, La French and Entre amis.

Print Room at the Coronet presents
Written and directed by Gerald Garutti, translated by Christopher Hampton

11 June – 21 June


  • Neil Cheesman

    First becoming involved in an online theatre business in 2005 and launching londontheatre1.com in September 2013. Neil writes reviews and news articles, and has interviewed over 150 actors and actresses from the West End, Broadway, film, television, and theatre. Follow Neil on Twitter @LondonTheatre1

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