À Nous Paris5 November 2018
Last turn round the circus ring | Cirque Plume in La Dernière Saison
Cirque Plume has chosen La Villette to host its final bow with La Dernière Saison, with faithful and composite audiences rushing to celebrate 30 years of "circus acts and music." A commemoration? A compilation of greatest hits? No, a real artistic work to share here and now. Directed by Bernard Kudlak, artistic director and co-founder of the company — founded in 1984 by a band of acrobats from Franche-Comté — the collective established itself as one of the pioneers of what was called Nouveau Cirque. All the while, it never strayed from its ideals: to reconcile artistic demands with popular appeal, to refute commercial compromises and to favor the spirit of the troupe. A gentle madness constructed around themes of nature, the seasons, the living and the wild, “objects to be destroyed or consumed,” this twelfth opus is a dreamlike jewel of slapstick comedy and visual magic. Before the crowd, there is no circus ring but rather a black box space with a frontal stage (like in theatre), upon which looms a huge canvas by Charles Belle. Painted in the forest, with wood and charcoal, the piece spent seven seasons outside, beaten by the wind and storms, before welcoming the fantastic bestiary of the Jura forests — scrawny monster angels, strange wild animals, freaks, etc. Musicians and circus performers of different generations intermingle under snow falling as lightly as a feather. Hilarious belly fights, wire acrobatics, Chinese pole, aerial hoop, juggling, contortion, clowning, theatre and music (judiciously entrusted to Benoit Schick after Robert Miny’s death) all blend into one artistic gesture. Everything these strange birds have brought to the circus since 1984 is there: poetry, dreams, music, joy, civic engagement, strengths and weaknesses. The spectators rise from their seats and stand, eyes shining like fireflies, filled with gratitude.