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Le Journal de ma nouvelle oreille (“the diary of my new ear”) is an original play that was first presented in July 2013 by Isabelle Fruchart and Zabou Breitman. It is based on the journal that Isabelle Fruchart, a hard of hearing actor who was undiagnosed for many years, starts to write when she receives her “new ears,” a digital hearing aid that throws her into a new life. In this diary, the actor tells the story day by day of her progressive adaptation to the earpiece, recalling her wonder at rediscovering sounds and the excitement of this new freedom, but also her impatience and sometimes despondency. She revisits her long journey and efforts to overcome, understand and accept what used to make her different and sometimes lonely: the loss of 70% of her hearing at the age of 14.

Through theater and cinema, Zabou Breitman demonstrates a deep engagement to subjects combining the personal and the social, the historical and the psychological. Her passion for this sensitive, humorous testimony led her to adapt it for the stage and offer Isabelle the leading role.

Created at the 2013 Avignon Festival thanks to the commitment of numerous theater directors, this show has made its mark on spectators, professionals and journalists both with and without hearing loss. This testimony on the impressions, difficulties and daily life of a hard-of-hearing person, brought to life by the charisma of the actor and the humor of the play, proves that it is possible to speak out against the taboo of hearing loss and the suffering of those impacted.

The theatrical form has enabled the text to be augmented by sound. Thanks to meticulous attention to the sound quality, the spectators come as close as possible to the character, discovering what she hears for the first time, what she used to not hear, starting with her own voice… and her appreciation of the “normal” world. Like her, they come face to face with the surprises of the hearing aid, as well as its limits.

After each show, a spontaneous dialogue with the audience occurs. While some spectators relive their own experience, others discover what their close ones have been going through. This ability to unite spectators of all ages, backgrounds and professions in a shared empathy is the show’s great strength. The play raises public awareness of hearing loss and hearing aids, while speaking directly to anyone who may have difficulty accepting their hearing impairment.

The show has continued on its tour since fall 2013. Many appearances by Isabelle Fruchart have been organized before the shows: in particular, workshops on communicating, listening and writing, but also conferences on her experience, and meetings with the audience after shows. Each performance leads to new collaborations with specialist bodies (La Semaine du Son or “hearing week” and institutions or associations working on hearing loss) or cultural events aimed at changing perceptions of all forms of disability.

Le Journal de ma nouvelle oreille was presented at the Théâtre du Rond-Point in Paris from June 4 to July 4, 2015, raising major visibility through a media campaign that has relaunched the debate and dialogue on hearing in our world today.

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