2666 by the theatre company Si vous pouviez lécher mon coeur - Julien Gosselin

2666 by the theatre company Si vous pouviez lécher mon coeur - Julien Gosselin

Presented at the Festival d’Avignon in 2016, 2666 is the adaptation of Roberto Bolaño's eponymous novel.

The eleven-hour saga show, composed of five parts as the original work, staged many characters: four European scholars looking for a mysterious German writer whose face no one knows, a Spanish teacher who hears voices and thinks he is Marcel Duchamp, a journalist from New York who is sent to Mexico to cover a boxing fight, Mexican cops implicated in the countless murders committed around the U.S border, in a city that could be Ciudad Juarez, and a German teenager, born in the twenties, who could become a writer. Played by thirteen performers, they are alternately musicians, actors, narrators or characters.
Like the novel, the show is “huge, impressive, endless, kicky, and sometimes rough", conceived as a complete and total experience, a crossing during which both actors and spectators are involved, trying to conserve its power and its complexity.


“I like being confronted by authors who dare to take on huge subjects, issues that are bigger than themselves.”-Julien Gosselin


Julien Gosselin, metteur en scène

Why this particular novel? 

Julien Gosselin : When 2666 came out in France, in 2008, I read magazines like Chronic'art, which had written extensively on authors that I love, Don DeLillo, William T. Vollmann, Thomas Pynchon ... For 2666, I remember there was one article called, "The First Great Novel of the 21st Century". A friend of mine who read it told me about the book. I started reading it and from the very beginning, I knew I could bring it to the theatre. 

What particularly interested you in the novel? 

Julien Gosselin : I like being confronted by authors who dare to take on huge subjects, issues that are bigger than themselves. And Robert Bolaño is talking about an apocalypse that could cover the world. 

Beyond the plot of 2666, there seems to be another underlying struggle going on. What is it? 

Julien Gosselin : The question of the novel is not so much knowing who the murderer is, but sensing the battle between literature and the violence of reality. I am not a romantic about this, but I agree with Bolaño on this point: if the struggle that literature delivers is power, it will still never exceed the power of reality. The violence of the real is much stronger than the violence of fiction. The only - and great - beauty of literature lies in its battle. It is not victory or defeat in the face of reality that matters, it is the effort itself. This theme may reoccur throughout literature, but Roberto Bolaño really pushes it to the extreme. That is why there are so many poets and painters who cut their hands or hurt one another in 2666. In an instant, the attempt to fight against the violence of a world in motion by artistic means gives birth to the work, but in the end, fiction loses out again. This is why the novel can be deceptive: if it ends, and the investigation with it, it’s the violence of the real that will come out on top. 

What do you think of your adaptation and staging of 2666? Are there parts with which you are particularly satisfied or dissatisfied?  

Julien Gosselin : Difficult to answer this question. I tend to think that a sense of satisfaction comes not from public or critical approval, but from when you are able to enjoy your own work and can take pleasure in looking at it. Obviously, a show or adaptation is a sum of errors and successes, but when, a few months after its creation, I can look at the show with a little perspective, I am actually extremely touched. Not so much by the success of certain sequences as by what they have become, by moving representation after representation, by the simple work of the actors who modify something inside the object every day. My work is then a success: having created a framework in which technicians and actors can live and make the poetry of Bolaño heard every day differently. 

Your piece lasts 12 hours (including intermission), which is not common in France or in China. What reaction do you hope for on the Chinese side? 

Julien Gosselin : I believe that today, everyone has got into the habit of having access to art that can go on for a long time. When you read a novel or begin a series, you know that you will generally be watching for a dozen hours. In this play, the hours are concentrated into one and the same day, but I know that in Europe, the reactions of the public are always joyous: they follow the story of 2666 with an appetite and much pleasure. And I'm sure it will be the same in China!


Christine Zhang, program director at the Grand Theater of Tianjing


Why such a daring choice for introducing this piece to Chinese theater? 

Christine Zhang : Because the Lin Zhaohua Theatre Arts Festival aims to bring the best works of theatre to the Chinese public 

You also saw 2666 at the theatre yourself. What were your feelings after discovering this piece as a spectator? 

Christine Zhang :  2666 is a complexly structured piece, with its five parts dislocated from one another. At the same time, each part is composed of fragmented stories. The director has used very original approaches and techniques to connect them in a fluid way. Music and video have considerable power in this. The director knows the rhythm of this piece perfectly, which meant that even after 12 hours of the show I didn’t feel tired.


Copyright picture © Simon Gosselin

In 2009, graduated from the Professional School of Dramatic Art of Lille, Guillaume Bachelé, Antoine Ferron, Noémie Gantier, Julien Gosselin, Alexandre Lecroc, Victoria Quesnel and Tiphaine Raffier create Si Vous Pouviez Lécher Mon Coeur (i.e If You Could Lick My Heart). Michel Houellebecq's Atomised, directed by Julien Gosselin received universal acclaim at the Festival d'Avignon in 2013. Julien Gosselin is associate artist at the Phénix Theater in Valenciennes.


15.07.2017 - 16.07.2017
Ticketing: - 22 8388 2000
Performance in French with Chinese subtitltes


Tianjin Grand Theater

Pingjiang Dao

Hexi district, Tianjin, Tianjin


Phone : 022-83882000,83882008






Follow us on Wechat

Scan this QR code to get the best news and events from across China sent to your WeChat every week

Cultural programme at the Institut français in Beijing



2018 Francophonie contests: Apply now!

Useful links