What doesn’t kill me makes me stronger


She was born in 1961. Just before the massacre of October 17, which would take more than thirty years to become part of contemporary Franco-Algerian history. It will take forty for Myriam Saduis to uncover her own family history, impacted by latent colonization, and achieve Final Cut, a bold creation that commands respect (1). His mother was born in Tunisia, then under French protectorate, to a family of Italian settlers. She falls madly in love with Bashir, an Arab, and « You hear something right away, don’t you? » She stands up to her family and marries them, but, after the crisis at the naval base of Bizerte, which France wants to keep control of, while Tunisia has been independent since 1956, she returns with him to France, pregnant. His love disintegrates in France under the pressure of racism from his family and his environment. Miriam is a “child of transgression”. Bashir then disappears from the landscape. No more trace, no more photo in the family album, no more evocation of a father that the child keeps asking for. His mother “had turned him back at the borders. He was a foreign man, without a visa and without support”, she says.

It is as an adult, after psychoanalysis and a bitter struggle to rebuild herself, that Myriam takes the measure of the cataclysm. The madness – in the clinical sense of the term – of his mother who had escaped any type of diagnosis and care, until she was swept away in her own destruction. The suffering of the father, too, who stayed in France for a long time in the hope of being able to see his daughter, until the mother had him expelled. She will go so far as to erase the name that her daughter bears by Frenchifying it. Myriam is now called Saduis instead of Saâdaoui, under the 1972 law which allows integration to be applied like a steamroller. Yet this mother kept humming Barbara’s song Tell me, when will you come back ?… Later, Myriam will learn of the disappearance of her father, who died of unfathomable grief and cancer, before she could find him.

Intimate and family tragedy

But, today, it is she who turns this intimate, family tragedy upside down, to inscribe it, with distance and lucidity, in historical and collective determinations. We are edified by the construction of the story, the meticulousness of the investigation, the back and forth between this first-person story and the colonial narrative, facts and supporting documents. We are caught up and touched by the many faces of Myriam Saduis, first child, woman, mother in turn, witness and teacher. We see her transforming physically, going from a tension that would almost make her body stiff, to a dance of exorcism where she summons the figure of Ulrike Meinhof in a protest song that puts imperialism on trial. Further on, the author, actress and director – who uses the tools of dialectics and analysis to make a theater that shakes – adapts a last scene from the Seagull which pits Arkadina against her son Kostia after his suicide attempt. She seeks there, with an exceptional partner, Pierre Verplancken (alternating with Olivier Ythier) several entries and interpretations. It is a moment of grace. A metaphor for the goldsmith’s work of Myriam Saduis. A name that we are not about to forget.


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