The night

Since 2009, the Seine-Saint-Denis County Council has been backing “la Culture et l’Art au Collège (CAC)”. This project is based to a large extent on the presence in class for several weeks (40h) of an artist or scientist whose mission is to engage the students in a process of research and creation. 

 

Tutor: Sabine Revillet/ author

Project manager: Mathieu Marion

 

Objectives:
By making the daytime the main moment for everyday activity, the night seems, by contrast, the opposite – a time of silence, tranquillity and darkness. But is this the truth? If we take the city as an example, particularly the city in which the students live, is this what they desire and feel? At the core of this literary invitation, the students are asked to find the words to describe the night as each of them experiences it, uses it or desires it, day after day.

Workshop:
Encountering the night
Two aspects are highlighted to create a unique relationship with this theme. With the contributor, first of all, the class looks at the available definitions of the night (dictionary, internet, etc.): how is it characterised, is it always synonymous with sleep, how is it perceived in different cultures? The writer then organises a series of discussions during which each student describes what happens, in his/her opinion, during the night in his/her street or neighbourhood.

Subject matter
Starting with works of art, films or music, the students now enter the fictional world by exploring how authors write about the night, whether it’s in a playful way or using more demanding forms. The contributor organises initial practical writing exercises in which language is distorted and reinvented to seek out new words and possible situations and to create night-time plots, be they crazy or terrifying. These exercises may be superficial at times but are there to give the students confidence in their writing as well as to bring out the early structures of the story the class wishes to tell.

Writing about the night
The contributor and students divide the story into several chunks that are then distributed amongst the class. The groups are each given a moment of the story to develop: what happens at dusk, in the middle of the night or at dawn? Each group has to describe the situations in detail, refining the characters and their relationships without losing sight of the fact that the story has to recount how the city and the night “meet”. At the end, the groups of students take it in turns to read their developments to the rest of the class in order to harmonise the all the directions into the story as a whole.

Outcome:
The stories by the two classes were compiled in a 48-page collection and 300 copies were printed. “En guerre contre les mondes lumineux”, “La destruction de l’amour” and “Qui est né la nuit?” are some of the tales offered. Some copies were distributed in the students’ schools and others in the various multimedia libraries in Stains and Livry-Gargan. 

 

Outings (selection):
- SALON DU LIVRE ET DE LA JEUNESSE (BOOK FAIR), MONTREUIL
- TRIP TO THE PARIS CATACOMBS
- “NAISSANCE DE L’ÉCRITURE ET HISTOIRE DU LIVRE” WORKSHOP, BIBLIOTHÈQUE NATIONALE DE FRANCE
- WRITING WORKSHOP “PARIS LA NUIT” – “BATEAU MOUCHE” RIVER BOAT

Participating schools:
- Class 5, Collège Barbara, Stains
- Class 6 SEGPA, Collège Léon Jouhaux, Livry-Gargan

 

Photo: PIERRE ANTOINE
Graphic design: BIBLIS DUROUX

The night