CIRQUE Plume is currently staging its latest show, ’L’ Atelier du Peintre’ (the Artist’s studio). After ’Plic-Ploc’, which told the story of a drop of water, this time Bernard Kudlak has chosen to tackle the theme of how the world is represented. "Look at its beauty; look at the pleasures it gives", urges Pierre, his brother, in the prelude to an engrossing game of toing and froing between the front and back of the canvas.
On Wednesday 8 May, a thousand people came to see the first of eight previews in Salins. The performances continue until Saturday. They are a sell-out, proof if it were required that the Jura company has been successful over the years in gaining the enduring support of an ever wider audience. By stepping into the big top of Cirque Plume, you take the risk of being forever captivated by a world where artifice and performance are overtaken by magic and poetry.
Music by Robert Miny
For nearly two hours, Cirque Plume revisits the theme of the creative artist that has fascinated authors since Pygmalion. The painter and the sculptor dream of bringing life to the character they have created. Even if it means giving them their soul. On stage, the confrontation becomes a ballet, an expression of feelings where admiration is mixed with fear.
The German wheel, aerial straps, hand-to-hand balancing: ’L’Atelier du Peintre’ remains a spectacle conceived by and with circus performers. Bernard Kudlak however always seems to lean towards the art of dance, and in that respect he is perfectly served by the musical talent of Robert Miny.
He is also partnered by Pierre Kudlak, in the role of ’gossip painters’, their interruptions telling us something about the author’s intentions. The latter handles the subject of the genius of the masters with deference, referring to artists from Velasquez to Picasso. He is much less indulgent when it comes to contemporary artists, who are caricatured in the guise of a materialistic painter fond of using bizarre techniques. The director also pokes fun at an American collector, again played by Mark Pieklo.
’We know where you’re coming from"
Just like in a museum, the audience can take their time to admire the pictures that pass in front of their eyes. Laura Smith emerges from the trampoline amidst red petals, giving us some light relief. By contrast, we share in the painter’s anguish when, a little later, Antoine Nicaud’s life seems to hang from the two straps from which he dangles like a limp puppet. Audiences have long enjoyed the antics of juggler Tibo Tout Court, his routine a perfect example of the originality of Cirque Plume: the sequence of juggling balls turns into percussion, accompanied by the violin and clarinet.
Several of the performers on stage in ’L’Atelier du Peintre’ took part in the ’Plic Ploc’ world tour. From the rows of seats, it’s easy to see how pleased they are to be part of this new adventure. At the end of the first performance, Bernard Kudlak wanted to say how much he too is ’always happy to come back to Salins’. The enormous yellow big top of Cirque Plume will remain on place Barbarine until the end of the week. It will then set off on its journey across Europe and beyond. "We’ll say ’We know where you’re coming from’ to all the people who come to see us," promises Bernard Kudlak.