Le Figaro
19 November 2018

High-flying exit

Un départ de haute voltige | Le Figaro (presse_lds) {PDF} PERFORMING ARTS With "La Dernière Saison," Cirque Plume bids a happy and festive farewell, free of nostalgia.

Cirque Plume is packing up its tent. La Dernière saison is the final show of one of the leading companies from the 1980s. At the time, we called it "nouveau cirque." The Cirque Bidon gave way to Archaos, Puits aux Images gave way to Cirque Baroque. Bartabas began galloping in what was the Cirque Aligre before the creation of the equestrian theatre Zingaro. Amid this effervescence, Plume was born in 1984 in Franche-Comté with Amour, jonglage et falbalas. This breath of new life shook the dust off the art of the circus ring. A circus without animals, populated by poets, musicians, self-taught acrobats and other odd ducks who preferred the road over the factory, freedom over the assembly line.
More than thirty years and a dozen shows (No animo mas anima, L’harmonie est-elle municipale ? Plic Ploc, etc.) later, the time has come to cast off with La Dernière Saison. Bernard Kudlak is still the captain, hidden in the shadows.
Other founding members are in the spotlight: Pierre Kudlak, Bernard’s brother, as well as Jacques Marquès, back after a long break, and Cyril Casmèze, a brilliant "zoomorphic acrobat” who imitates a gorilla and a horse like no one else. Over the years and tours, artists from France and elsewhere (Argentina, Algeria, United States) have joined the troupe. Wirewalker Natalie Good, hip-hop dancer Hichem Serir Abdallah, Andrea Schulte (Chinese pole) and Analia Serenello (aerial hoop) are too young to have memories and regrets.
Nostalgia is no longer what it used to be. Put the Kleenex away. La Dernière Saison is not a eulogy. Plume has always preferred weddings to funerals. They say goodbye with a loud laugh, true to form with a joyful and zany romp. At a time when conceptual art and a spirit of seriousness dominate the circus ring, Plume persists and stands by its ways.

Bringing tradition elsewhere

They have not lost their sense of tribe and celebration. They still like dressing up as Santa Claus or as a skier (Anaëlle Molinario’s amazing contortion act). They also like to wear bathing suits. They look like they’ve been taken out of the pool from the movie Grand Bain. Fat people, skinny people, small people, grown-ups, bodies for all tastes. The trivial and the clownish brush against the sublime. There are punches and slaps that make people laugh, like in the great era of the white clown and the Auguste. Plume has never been against tradition, they have simply taken it elsewhere, given it new colors and sounds. In La Dernière Saison, the music, composed by Benoît Schick, remains at the center of the game. Percussion and brass lead the way.
Unlike Cirque du Soleil, Plume never wanted to become a multinational company producing several shows at the same time across five continents. They were too scared of losing their soul. They preferred to travel and pitch their tent in many cities and countries. They will continue to do so, as La Dernière Saison will be touring for at least two years. Then, like Cyrano and his panache, Plume will pick up their feathers and leave.

Étienne Sorin