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Sport and Literature 
By Eric Cenat

Within the Théâtre de l'Imprévu, through various projects, I wanted to build a bridge between sport and literature, between sport and history, thus linking the great exploits of athletes to the beautiful pages of writers, by replacing the sporting fact in a specific historical context.

From 1999 to 2003, the Théâtre de l'Imprévu gave over sixty performances of the show across France: Les Forçats de la route Tour de France 1924 (directed by Jacques David with Éric Cénat and Frédéric Maurin) based on the chronicles of Albert Londres in Le Petit Parisien.

To succeed the verve and the dramatic intensity of the pen of Albert Londres, I then thought, as an assiduous reader of bicycle literature and of the newspaper... L'Equipe, of Antoine Blondin who symbolizes by his personality unconventional what I was looking for: namely a perfectly subjective transcription of the sporting fact where humanism and humor mingle... A fine connoisseur of the author of A Monkey in winter and of Monsieur formerly, also in love with the little queen , the writer Patrice Delbourg joined me in 2003 in a new sporting-literary (or literary-sporting!) adventure by writing various evocations of the friend Antoine whom he rubbed shoulders with many times. Thus was born the concept of the show aptly named L'ironie du sport.

Working regularly since 2007 in the Czech Republic, I was necessarily interested in the great symbols of Czech sport. Little inclined by my French education towards hockey or floor ball, my attention quickly turned to two essential figures: the footballer Antonin Panenka and the long-distance runner Emile Zatopek. If I met, by the greatest of chance, the first in Prague, the second was introduced to me by this magnificent book by Jean Echenoz: Courir. The author draws here a most touching portrait of this man, both simple and exceptional, to the tireless crowd, jerky and swaying: "the human locomotive", such was his nickname! But he was above all an actor of his time who knew, without ever losing his soul, the German invasion, the Soviet liberation and oppression, an athlete who, out of pleasure, pride, relentlessness, reached the 'Olympus.

Eric Cenat- Director and actor
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