Marionnette: A new Label for puppeteering, Audrey Azoulay, illustration © Araso

French Culture Minister Audrey Azoulay announces new "Label" for puppeteering

The French Minister of Culture Audrey Azoulay has visited the ESNAM construction site in Charleville-Mézières on Friday Februray 3rd. On this occasion, she has made a highly anticipated announcement that a “label” for puppeteering will soon be created, which shall be granted upon the school and many other institutions connected to puppeteering but currently under a more non-specific “label” (one “CDN”, one “scène nationale”, nine “scènes conventionnées” already exist under the understanding that they are meant for puppeteering).

This advances the normalization of relations between public authorities and puppeteers, and shows recognition of the importance of their the craft, a logical consequence of the inscription of the Diploma of Puppeteering Crafts in the National Registry of Professional Certifications (RNCP). This shows support from the State to the further development of that form of theatrical performance.

Audrey Azoulay, illustration © Araso
Audrey Azoulay, illustration © Araso

la pluie, a moving depiction of the memories of a Holocaust witness

Since its re-creation at the Lucernaire, the press has praised la pluie, a theatrical performance both wonderful and intimate. Staged with human-sized puppets by Alexandre Haslé, this soliloquy depicts the moral pain of an old babouchka haunted by the memories of those who left their personal belongings with her before being deported.

That a play as unadorned and poetic as this one can still provoke such intense emotion is precious : it is a reminder that theater needs not mimic a rock show to be moving – quite the contrary. Manipulation of the puppets is visible which suggests a rejection of deception, while the puppets are displayed at the end of the show as if the truth told onstage transcended the tricks used, or maybe in order to help the spectators distance themselves from overwhelming feelings.

A. Haslé confirms, every evening, that the need to re-create the play comes from the indignity with which refugees are being treated, and his concern over rising intolerance in society.

La pluie, illustration © Araso
La pluie, illustration © Araso

La pluie is at the Lucernaire in Paris until November 26th 2016

Mame Yamada in Avidya – The Dark Inn, Maison de la Culture du Japon à Paris, Festival d'Automne September 2016, Illustration by Araso

Avidya - the Dark Inn, japanese theater hung between laughter and nostalgia

Avidya, in Buddhism, is misconception, one of the links in the chain that captures humans in the endless cycle of suffering and rebirth.

It is also the name of the Dark Inn staged by Kurô Tanino, which is like a world fading away, a gateway between two realities. One is that of modern life, symbolized by the Shinkansen, which is programmed to tear this piece of Japanese countryside in two ; the other is that of traditional Japan, to which the inhabitants of the secluded inn belong, who come there to enjoy the hot springs.

The arrival of a strange couple, the father, a dwarfish puppeteer, and the son, almost mute, sets in motion a series of scenes which unfold in the four rooms of the inn, presented on a rotating stage.

A disturbing, farcical, cruel play, that has the public hanging between laughter and nostalgia. One is sometimes confused by the narrative, grapples for the codes, admires the seemingly endless series of moving tableaux, and takes home a fleeting, disturbing feeling. It is a wonderful play, both subtle and generous.

Illustration © Araso

Avidya – Ignorance Inn

From 14th to 17th of September, at the Maison de la Culture du Japon à Paris for the Paris Autumn Festival

Written and directed by Kurô Tanino
Niwa Gekidan Penino Company