Le Journal de Saône et Loire
24 September 2019

Bernard Kudlak : « The end of Plume is also part of life »

Bernard Kudlak : « La fin de Plume fait aussi partie de la vie » | Journal de Saône et Loire (presse_lds) {PDF}

After almost 40 years of shows, Cirque Plume decided to put a stop to it all after its Dernière Saison. The final tour of 150 dates is making its way to Chalon. An ending in full glory, while crowds are still filling up the stands. Bernard Kudlak, co-founder of Plume, explains.

Why stop when everything is going so well for Cirque Plume?
"Stopping is neither happy nor sad, it’s just life. But Plume is not stopping just yet; we still have 150 dates ahead of us. There’s also a big exhibition on Plume and its history at the Salines Royales d’Arc-et-Senans.”

What does circus mean to you?

"Above all, it’s about surpassing one’s own human condition. Circus is about the moment just before falling. It’s about controlling imbalance. It’s also about showing that anything is possible. A circus show is an invitation to joy and also to fear. Circus is a living art form, made by living people for living people. As for the question of stopping while they are still waiting for us, while houses are full, it’s simple: we started a story, it went well, and we’ve decided to stop just as we started, without outside intervention. We’ve known for six or seven years that the Dernière Saison would mark the end of Plume."

Could you have passed the circus on to others?
“We are not a traditional, reproducible circus model. There are more than 150 circus companies in France; we are in a society where everyone is grabbing hold. We’re saying it’s time to make space for young people, and we’re making space for them. We are not stopping due to an economic problem, but because life is composed of different time periods, life in its present state is precious. Our society wants to be young forever, it has trouble looking at the end of things."

"You have to be narcissistic in this business, but not selfish.” -Bernard Kudlak, co-founder of Plume

What will your future be like?

"There will be a large exhibition in Arc-et-Senans. And then, I’m an artist. I like to write, paint, sculpt."

Why did you give your circus the elusive name Plume?
“All this happened while I was driving my three-speed Citroën Tub. We were looking for a name for our street company, and all sorts of outlandish names were being tossed around. I came in and suggested the name Plume. Everyone said “meh,” but the name stayed on the list. We went through a process of elimination, and in the end it was the only one left. Plume is about lightness, it’s the plumage of birds, the feathers of angels, writers’ plumes.”

What will you remember about this adventure?

“No single aspect more than any other: encounters, friends all over Europe, the joy of the audience, moments of exchange that nourish the peace of the soul.”

You’ve always insisted on staying in Besançon, why?

"40 years ago, it wasn’t the norm, but we didn’t want to get into show business. We wanted to stay out in the country when we weren’t touring, to live a simple life. We didn’t want success to change that.”

Interview by Meriem Souissi

La Dernière Saison, the final act of a spectacular adventure

It is hard to believe that we will no longer see Cirque Plume, neither in Chalon nor anywhere else. But this Dernière Saison, the name of their last show, will leave a beautiful imprint on our minds and eyes — one of sweet madness and gentle poetry.
The show plays on the seasons and laughs with kindness at aging artists. There are brioche contests, beer belly drumming sessions, bouncing bottoms. While these gentlemen don’t always look their best, the women are young and flexible. This Dernière Saison is a poetic and ecological fable. If it begins with the juggling of feathers, plastic bags soon cover the ground, portending terrible tragedies. We might draw the conclusion that Cirque Plume has chosen to stop so as not to see the land and sea polluted irremediably. As if they would rather stop in time, keeping only good memories, shared with enthusiastic spectators who sit before their one hour and fifty minutes of beautiful images and communicative joy. It’s quite a short hour and fifty minutes to say goodbye and thank you.

Meriem Souissi