Even before the official première of ’L’atelier du peintre’ (the Artist’s studio), the public seem to have already judged it a success. It all kicks off this evening. No less than nine performances have been scheduled at la Coursive, scène nationale, and since the announcement of the return of the famous company to the boards of the Vieux Port, tickets have been disappearing from the box office faster than snow in the sun.
La Rochelle - the obvious choice
There are very close ties between the troop from Franche Comté and the town of La Rochelle. A regular visitor here for six of the last 7 seasons (the first time was in 1992 at Villeneuve-les-Salines), it really hit the spot the last time it appeared, in 2004, with ’Plic Ploc’. As if the association went without saying, Bernard Kudlak’s troop has chosen la Coursive for the opening date of its tour, one that has been planned for the three years. "We feel at home here. It’s kind of taken for granted : we can’t not play in la Rochelle. It’s a nice habit to have and we feel we have friends here," explained the director, with a smile.
After using water as a theme, this time he has decided to take painting and the birth of a work of art as a backdrop for his new production. "L’atelier du peintre (the artist’s studio) is a place where new worlds are created, where the relationship with the artistic act is fashioned," he explained, justifying the path he has taken. Using the magic and humour that are the hallmark of Cirque plume, he has dreamed up a show that brings to life ’Venus at her mirror’ by Velasquez and in which the 13 performers are constantly creating illusions, in two and three dimensions, the conventional and the unclassifiable. It falls to the jugglers, trampolinist, clowns, aerial circus acts and musicians to bring colour to the circus arts : "I think it’s the most structured and expressive show anyone has ever produced."
Picture within a picture
Indeed there are a few nods and winks to pictorial art, and yes, the director has managed to design a scene and suggest, afterwards, that there was something of Francis Bacon about it, but take it from me, you don’t have to have a degree in art to enjoy the two hours that the show runs for. It’s like Tintin ; you can enjoy it at any age.
By showing the artist (a painter) on stage in the throes of creating his work, isn’t it a bit like watching the actual creator of the show tread the boards of la Coursive ? "You could say that. It’s my most personal production, the one in which I have gone the deepest into myself." Whilst the hand of the master has never been as steady, there’s material here to leave his faithful followers daydreaming about what’s yet to come.