“Barbarian humanity had enjoyed unchallenged and triumphant reign before we arrived and we sought poetry, fragility, humility, responsibility, joy and the sharing of life. As an absolute need.” Those were the words written by Bernard Kudlak, artistic director of Cirque Plume, thinking back to the creation of the company in 1983. Now, 30 years on, his feelings have not changed much, at least for the public. Amid the wars and tensions on our television screens and in this 21st century, entering the big top for a moment of poetry has become something we all need.
Tempus fugit ? , the show which punctuates this anniversary is something very much put together, made of bric-a-brac. The artistes evolve from acrobatics to music, from the trapeze to the trumpet, imbuing the show with a very special feeling.
It is funny and poetic, droll and full of imagination. Sometimes it takes very little to create a whole new world, like a simple gust of wind which causes a tremendous imbalance. Folk and gentle rock music provides a balance, underpinning the rhythm of the tightrope walker, the trapeze artiste, the acrobat or the magician; suddenly a violinist flies off into the air, it all seems so normal ...
Cirque Plume steers clear of hyperbole, even sometimes to the point of appearing outdated compared to today’s circuses which tend to want to devise new ways of contemplating the body and space, seeking new rules of balance. Cirque Plume does what it knows how to do best, living in the world of the imaginary, and playing on a more modest level. Even if it sometimes approaches a certain idea of accepted nostalgia (the subtitle of the show is actually "wandering along a lost path ". The imagery is in sepia, there are references to "I remember a time when …" and I would go so far as to say that it draws characters of the artistes, falling somewhere between a happy organized bordello and falsely worn-out costumes. But it avoids the obvious pitfalls thanks to the humour which holds the show together.
Clownish art is generally avoided with care by the new circus. Perhaps it is too difficult to bring it up to the taste of the day? Making people laugh is too scary? The troupe of Cirque Plume knows how to use it with an almost skill. And it is not confined to the old hands of the company either, the young acrobats sometimes play the part of clowns, depending on the sequences. The first pratfall makes the children laugh. The second one gets everybody to join in. And wide-eyed, everybody watches the clown as he plays with a spot of red light, like a balloon. He throws it, and juggles with it, enlarges and shrinks it, turning it into the inevitable red nose, the symbol of the circus which has stood the test of time and which is known to every generation (bringing them all together). Tempus fugit ? definitely takes pleasure in cocking a snook, staging surprises and illusions, always unexpected. A real breath of fresh air which does you so much good and surely the basis on which Cirque Plume was founded 30 years ago. Happy anniversary!