Why is beauty a vital necessity?

To adapt Wajdi Mouawad for marionettes: here we stand sceptical. Assoiffés (literally «Thirsty») was created in 2007 at the Théâtre Le Clou in Montréal, which caters mostly for a young audience. It’s bold, risky and the result can be anything.

We sit across the stage from Brice Coupey, a pregnant Fanny Catel who turns out to embody young Norvège perfectly and Ladislas Rouge. Tagging along with them is a disheveled Murdoch puppet and Boon, the author-narrator who will ultimately round everything off.

Murdoch's puppet, live-sketching by Araso
Murdoch’s puppet, live-sketching by Araso

In this version, Compagnie L’Alinéa’s virtuosity comes to support a dramatically strong piece of writing. Teenage hood is a theme cherished by Wajdi Mouawad which he had addressed throughout his work. This time is a fragile transition that «the devastating effects of a world deprived of beauty » are threatening the most, when an unquenched «thirst for love, for trust, for meaning» leads to suicide, whether intellectual or physical.

Just like in Inflammation du Verbe Vivre, writing is depicted as a vital necessity. To bring the word of the Dead to the Living, and also because «beauty when left un-nurtured hardens and becomes ugly». Norvège brilliantly illustrates it by starting as a piece of card, becoming a corpse and turning into flesh again. Unmissable.

Brice Coupey manipulating Murdoch's puppet, live-sketching by Araso
Brice Coupey manipulating Murdoch’s puppet, live-sketching by Araso

Illustrations © Araso

Performance seen at the Mouffetard – the theatre for the Art of Marionnette between January 17th and 28th 2017, alongside an exhibition by Brice Coupey of the artworks testifying of the play’s genesis.

Assoiffés will be shown again in the theatre Berthelot of Montreuil on February 1st and 2nd 2017.

Aglae : woman, mummy, whore

Coming in like a cat, she dodges the stools on which her guests are seating. «I asked myself: what shall I wear? » she’s dressed in a black babydoll and nylon stockings. Claude Degliame alias Aglae has been working with Jean-Michel Ribes since 1974 and in 2017 has the body of a goddess.

Aglae is a non-fictional character. Director Jean-Michel Rabeux met her in Marseille when she was 70 ans. On stage he gives her the urchin-like voice of his favourite actress – and we thank him for this.

Claude Degliame is Aglae "happy whore, unhappy mother"
Claude Degliame is Aglae “happy whore, unhappy mother”

What’s it like to be a whore? What’s it like to be a whore and a woman? What’s it like to be a whore and a mother? « I wasn’t excited; I was curious » from the first hand jobs given to her brother when she was 10 to her« luxury hooker » days, Aglae works through her own lifetime.

Claude Degliame tackles with elegance, bravery and no fake innocence the misconceptions and judgements around prostitution. « A whore is not a bitch, fuck! ». Should prostitution be legalized? Yes, for God’s sake! To protect the girls and because they are «sex’s nurses».

« Do I ask that one from the government how she fucks? No! So leave me alone with the Law».

L’amour, y’en a plein de sortes / Aglaé par WebTV_du_Rond-Point

Aglae, with Claude Degliame. By Jean-Michel Rabeux with the words of Aglae
At the Rond-Point theatre, January 4th to 29th 2017
On tour at the Bateau Feu – Dunkerque, France, on May 4th and May 5th 2017
Illustration © Araso

Thomas Lebrun is the king of the Dance Floor

A bare set, except for a one square meter luminous tile. «Everybody dance now !» and a series of tenants catwalk onto the deceitfully superficial step acting like a revealing bath. Thomas Lebrun portrays the outlet and the excitement of a night club, with the sexual charges and lousiness that come along with it and its share of timids, predators, divas and exhibitionists.

Five exceptional dancers – amongst them the choreographer himself, mind-blowing, dress up as go-go dancer, lead dancer, (un)inhibited punk to file on Bob Sinclar, Cher and Wax Tailor.

Thomas Lebrun, The Kings of The Dance Floor, illustration © Araso
Thomas Lebrun, The Kings of The Dance Floor, illustration © Araso

The timeline follows the accelerated flow of the night. Masks fall off, couples get «cosy», alcoholic bodies collapse letting go of one boob -and their dignity. Men in thigh boots and black lace bodies come hurling in sexy as ever. Their perfect command of highly curated movements is breath-taking.

Whilst the audience is still dancing on their seats, a ballet of Christian figures, two women and three men come forward and bows over Gloria Gaynor’s «I am what I am».

Ite missa est.

Rencontre avec Thomas Lebrun autour de sa création Les rois de la piste from micadanses – Faits d’hiver on Vimeo.

Les Rois de la Piste (The Kings of the Dance Floor) is Thomas Lebrun’s latest creation for five performers, shown at Le Carreau du Temple on January 17th and 18th within the Faits d’Hiver Festival.

Illustration © Araso

Romeo and Juliet are doing it to death

26 years. It’s barely the age of Romeo and Juliet combined when they both took their own lives. 26 years ago, Angelin Preljocaj created the eponymous ballet for the Lyon Opera, resuming this season at the Théâtre National de Chaillot.

In the meantime, in 1996, the show had been put together again, incorporating the very unique touch of Enki Bilal, one of Casterman’s favorite comics author and designer, who’s namely written and drawn a story called Julia & Roem (2011). For Preljocaj, he creates a spectacular scenography, a perfect match for Prokofiev’s breath-taking music. The production is magical.

Roméo et Juliette, Ballet Preljocaj, Illustration © Araso
Roméo et Juliette, Ballet Preljocaj, Illustration © Araso

Of course the plot is not free from Manichean clichés and taps into an already well exhausted vein. Juliet, the very lightly dressed young bourgeoise falls in love with homeless Romeo in a torn t-shirt. The cavalry in CRS armours parades at the bottom of a guard tower stridden along by a dog handler with a torch, Splinter Cell-style.

In spite of some over-explanatory awkwardness and a few costumes of questionable taste, the show is a great performance. Dance is flying off, the sight is beautiful, sexy, elegant, and keeps the audience enthralled. This is great Preljocaj.

Angelin Preljocaj, Roméo et Juliette
Théâtre National de Chaillot until Decembre 24 th 2016

Krystian Lupa, Illustration © Araso

Being Wittgenstein

Absolute loyalty: that of a director to his actors, that of the performers to Ritter, Dene, Voss, also know as Wittgenstein’s Nephew. First assembled in 1996, reunited in 2006, the clan is back together again some 20 years later.

Faithful through the years despite the early betrayals and consistant quarrels, the cast seems to be stuck together for better or worse, just like this family in a place where «everything of value was drowned in soups and sauces».

Very few of us can claim to be complete strangers to those words, to the feeling of a dormant volcano. It’s so cleverly depicted by tormented  genius Thomas Bernhard that every line is a quote. The whole is a bitter sweet symphony.

The lunch table is the altar on which the sick and wounded is sacrificed by a stronger kind of sick. The alcoholic sister, the neurotic eldest sister, the sick brother. « She despises my inner self but I have to eat her doughnut ». The blackmail-kind-of-love, the prison-kind-of-affection, a vision of the human kind « holding on to the very contracts (…) that make it choke ». Irresistibly sketched, the human race is depicted in all its grandeur.

Krystian Lupa, Illustration © Araso
Krystian Lupa, Illustration © Araso

Wittgenstein’s Nephew a play by Krystian Lupa whom the Festival d’Automne à Paris has portrayed in its 2016 edition.
The play is currently performed at the Théâtre de la Ville – Les Abbesses from December 13th to 18th 2016.

Text : Thomas Bernhard
Traduction : Jacek S. Buras
Stage direction & scenography : Krystian Lupa
Music : Jacek Ostaszewski
Sound : Mieczyslaw Guzgan
Scenography Assistant : Piotr Skiba
With : Malgorzata Hajewska-Krzysztofik, Agnieszka Mandat, Piotr Skiba

Dark Circus by Stereoptik, illustration Araso

How Stereoptik's Dark Circus makes people happy

In these early days of December, the brillant Stereoptik duo stops at the Monfort theatre with their Dark Circus. The plot is based on a story by Pef, a 77 year-old illustrator who still refuses to be serious.

It all begins with a dark circus, where people come in number only to grow unhappier, says the mischievous punch line.

Romain Bermond and Jean-Baptiste Maillet are both music, drawing and shadows virtuosi. On stage, they create a world full of poetry catering to all those who take the time to stop by. The electric guitar plays feverish chords while  an acoustic guitar plays the devil.

Dark Circus by Stereoptik, illustration Araso
Dark Circus by Stereoptik, illustration Araso

Drawings appear like calligraphies on a big screen in motion. The scenery is made of quicksands which swallows up acrobats to make room to newer landscapes. The earth shapes up mad horses; breaking free from the arena, they lead the audience to unexplored grounds where everything is still to be built.

Everything is beautiful in this energetic and sagacious show, a lesson of creativity that doesn’t lack wit.

Dark Circus is a show by Stereoptik presented at the Monfort Theater with the Théâtre de la Ville, until December 17th 2016. 8 pm, Grande salle du Monfort, before going on a global tour. Duration 1h.