9 octobre 2014

Plume glides on

Libération | Plume en vol plané (presse_tempus) {PDF}

After incarnating the renewal of the genre for so long, the company is celebrating its 30th anniversary at la Villette with a show which is paradoxically a look at the past.

As the heavyweight performer on the French circus scene, Plume is celebrating its 30 years of acrobatics with a new show, Tempus fugit ? Une ballade sur le chemin perdu. (Wandering down the lost path). And the commemoration is not easy to miss with a tour planned to last three years (from Besançon in the spring of 2013 to Perpignan at the end of 2015), and with the way paved by an enormous posting campaign more than three months before the planned date of the shows, to last until the year’s end festivities held at l’Espace Chapiteaux de la Villette (configured, wouldn’t you know, as a front-on show).

Millions of euros are at stake and tens of people are on the road to celebrate one of the biggest names in the Circus world, referred to in the 80s and 90s as the "new Circus", bringing the genre out of the cobwebs with joint efforts being made by other companies like Zingaro - who abandoned the title of "Circus" for a more honorable(?) denomination of "equestrian theater" -, Archaos, Aligre, then les Arts Sauts, Que-Cir-Que, etc., and also the "Centre national des arts du cirque" (Cnac) inaugurated in 1986 at Châlons-en-Champagne, which is still going strong.

MAGIC. Many have molted their feathers or disappeared since then. But not Plume, originating from the Franc-Comté merger of three groups (Fanfare Léa Traction, la Gamelle aux étoiles, and le Magicien de balle), for which this is the 10th creation, leading off from several ventures essentially in the 90s, like Toiles or l’Harmonie est-elle municipale ? One particularity of this contemporary circus is that it embraces other disciplines, dance, theater, magic, video or the digital arts and its more inventive perpetrators sometimes resulting in forms that are so incredibly hybrid that they escape any kind of classification : Mathurin Bolze, Johann Le Guillerm, Camille and Raphaëlle Boitel, Aurélien Bory or Jérôme Thomas.

With acrobatic entertainment underlying the origins of its art, Plume, has evidently decided to move on. Left well behind from that point of view, the company is now attempting to reach a compromise between a show which is both familial and which stands apart, constantly attempting to break free from the weighty aspects inherent in the size of the company. To do this, "the show is a deliberately festive event aimed at celebrating all those years of desire, joy and suffering", Tempus fugit ? is a fuel to nostalgia, underscoring a disturbing backward look by this company which has for a long time, symbolized the exact opposite.

In his introductory words, Bernard Kudlak, the heart and soul of Plume (in this case, the author, the stage director and the artistic manager) refers to the sequels of a "XXth century of barbarism" and of "crimes of decolonization" as a means of justifying "Unbridled desire"and "Cultural Democratization" the prime considerations in the development of Plume which, in 2014, plays on such fine cliches that they seem to come from times dating to well before the beginning of the company, to the schoolmasters "lab coat" worn by ringmaster Pierre Kudlak (the brother of ..., another representative of the historical background), to the magnesium flash formerly used for family photos.

GLOSSOLALIE. To help us swallow the pill of the lost time - which can never be recovered, as maintained by Bernie Bonvoisin -, Plume does not stint on its share of humor and poetry, two of the "in-house" levers, which never really work well without one another. Humor is everywhere, appearing in an unexpected superimposition of words and comic numbers, with the "glossolalie" by Mick Holsbeke which has (even the smallest) children in stitches. The burlesque sequences, at least we are supposed to believe that they are burlesque, are long and repetitive, but well compensated for by other numbers, essentially by girls who keep the show going.
Chinese pole, trapeze artistes, balancing or tightrope dancing, Plume comes to life, reminding us of how invigorating the company can be, in these elegant sequences where a headstrong globe, all red, is projected onto a huge piece of fabric, suggesting an enormous balloon and a play of light and shade ; and there is the insolent sheet of music which won’t stay on the lectern, escaping from the grasp of the violinist who himself flies through the air in pursuit. All proof that Plume knows the score which is omnipresent, with a predilection for the brass section, through to the final fanfare. A fitting end.