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théâtre national de nice

Saison 2018-19

théâtre national de nice

[ Original creation | Co-production ]

le petit théâtre du bout du monde opus ll


acting & puppetry Ézéquiel Garcia-Romeu, Iroslav Petkov, Christo Ivanov, Margarita Kostova, Teodora Rashed, Plamen Kanev [alternating] puppet making Martine Le Saout dramaturgy & outside view Laurent Caillon sound Stéphane Morisse music composition René Koering drawings & paintings Ézéquiel Garcia-Romeu machine working Thierry Hett digital arts & new technology Pierre Gotab, Benjamin Maza - Nectar de Code intern assistant set designer Odile Artru intern assistant set designer and puppet maker Ana Almeida assistant videographer Philippe Rombeault assistant writing workshops Victoire Ponza production Frédéric Poty Bulgaria assistant Theodore Vodenitcharov production Théâtre de la Massue - Cie Ézéquiel Garcia-Romeu co-production Théâtre National de Nice - CDN Nice Côte d’Azur, Théâtre Nouvelle Génération - CDN de Lyon, Théâtre Sénart - SN, Le Carré - SN de Château-Gontier, Théâtre National des Marionnettes de Vidin - Bulgarie, Plovdiv Capitale Européenne de la Culture - Bulgarie, ExtraPôle Région SUD with the support of l’Institut Français, de Nectar de Code - Carpentras, de La Gare Franche - Marseille, du Mouffetard - Paris, de l’Université de Nice-Sophia Antipolis, de l’ENSATT - Lyon, de l’Université Janacek - Brno, de la French Tech Culture - Avignon, de La Chartreuse - Villeneuve lez Avignon et de la SPEDIDAM.

In this new work, we happily meet again with the little creatures of this artisanal and original theatre. This time, they are confronted with a hi-tech and futuristic world. On the very cusp of their destiny, they evolve in a world where cameras and satellites constantly spy on them; artificial intelligence has gained the upper hand in a frenzied race towards the appropriation of all the world's resources. Both poetic and humorous, these characters radiate sensitivity, cynicism, humanity and utopianism. The spectator walks around the installation as he or she pleases to meet these puppets subtly brought to life by a group of Bulgarian actor-puppeteers. As the performance moves on, hope and destiny intertwine in a touching metaphor for a civilisation that is losing its way.

Accompanied by his extraordinary creations, the puppeteer wizard Ezequiel Garcia-Romeu pursues his poetic exploration of a society gone adrift, in a world of surveillance and machines.

« A close look, through the universe of puppets, of our inability to build a better world.»
Journal La Terrasse


Interview with Ézéquiel Garcia-Romeu

Interview by Caroline Audibert

OPUS 2 springs from the exploration you carried out last year. What are the driving themes behind this new show?

The main theme is about men working in difficult conditions: a robotic, over-exploited landscape, navigated by small, fragile creatures who are all scrabbling to survive and subjected to a world of surveillance and machines. Surveillance that has always existed in one form or another but, which today centres on computers.

How did you choose to embody this omnipresent surveillance on stage?

In our staging we used video cameras, control barriers and above all, satellite surveillance through a video game that we designed with the company, called “Code Nectar.” It’s a policy- strategy game based on power play. The aim? To appropriate resources (mineral wealth, energy sources…) and to convert them into financial assets for trading. The game deals with the world of finance, the stock market value of minerals, coal, oil or other resources, land exploitation…and how international trading is set up.

You’re giving the audience a real chance to get involved. That’s pretty unusual with puppetry and even with theatre…

To extract any value from the ground, the spectator has to be there, with maps and x-rays in hand, he or she has to take possession of it. Will the player take the land from the people who are living there? Will he or she make holes in the scenery to bore and explore underground? What is original is that there is a real, physical dimension to this virtual game. Mediators are around to keep things reasonable otherwise the set would be destroyed on the first day of the show! This interaction between real scenery and the virtual world is a world first – a highly innovative idea from the makers of the game. We’re offering a real experience here and it’s interesting to see that some of the most daring ideas come from the most handmade, artisanal world!

In this new, metaphorical piece about our plight, two worlds seem to clash. Are they compatible?

Effectively, the artisanal world of know-how, manual and physical skills comes head to head with the world of artificial intelligence. Two worlds, two different time zones. I bring them together in the show: a handiwork that is crafted by both artists and hi-tech, digital engineers. I feel that it is possible to bring these two universes together in the real world. The show invites us to ask ourselves what world do we live in and how do we experience sharing knowledge and resources? As a artist, it’s up to me to transform all of this into metaphor, poetry, joy. With the audience involved in the creative process, we’re bringing together a community of researchers, engineers, performers…. To produce a shared experience like this is very rewarding and very positive….it already answers the question raised by the show!

The issues that come to light in the show are political and ecological: how are we going to live on the planet, share its wealth, cope with depleting resources? Do you offer a realistic vision, an optimistic one?

Take the example of this project that allowed me to bring together some totally different people. Seeing these teams working with such a tremendous capacity for exchange, for openness is very exciting. Basically, it shows that we have reached such a degree of anxiety about the future of Life and ourselves that it generates cohesion across very different groups of society. In the first version of the show, in Bulgaria, people came out of the experience feeling very moved, changed, with a desire to take part in this transformation of the world.

What artistic “weapons” do you deploy in the face of the ever-present risk of Totalitarianism that permeates your OPUS?

Poetry, sensibility and humour are at the heart of my approach. They emerge from the characters themselves. At some point in their lives, these characters endure suffering but they are in a very beautiful, poetic state. And this poetry allows the audience to be a part of my project. Within the context of a fade-out of our civilisation, what I am saying is metaphorical: the words of an artist and poet, not a politician. Through these creatures, straight from my imagination, thought becomes symbolic, an archetype that can become a source of inspiration.

To conjure up an artisanal approach, how do you make your puppets?

I start by sketching my characters then use paints and then I sculpt them in clay. When I feel I’ve experimented enough, I make the doll. I produce a plaster mould and carry on working it. Then I make a silicone mould, followed by a latex version and I mechanize it so that it stands up alone, takes on its own life. This approach gives me minimal means, in terms of what the character will put out and show as an illusion of life. However, sometimes certain puppets don’t manage to exist, there is some resistance, they don’t ever go out on stage… …products of failed auditions, I guess!

What is it about a doll that gets it a “role?”

The capacity to represent the living, to give the impression that the character has depth, a past..that it becomes a living being in his/her own right with his/her very own biography, his/her own particular characteristics and physique….

How many performers does each puppet need to come to life?

The little statues that I make are very expressive, even when they are just standing. They only need a bit of movement to make them come to life. Often the doll’s head is separate from its body, it’s arms and legs attached to joints that need to be moved individually. The dolls I design are made out of a single piece and the articulating system runs all the way from the head into the legs. It’s the whole character that moves within his own scope, handled by a single puppeteer. This is an experimental method that I have developed over the years.

Did any particular traditional puppetry art inspire you?

According to Japanese tradition, the puppeteer has a direct grip with the puppet at the central point of its body: a rod passes inside and is used to move the head. The main puppeteer, or “master” moves the head whilst two “disciples”, dressed in black and completely hooded, each animate one arm, leg and side of the doll. They stay disciples until they are 50! I was a little inspired by this tradition but I changed the way the dolls were articulated. How can you bring a miniature body to life without giving away the mechanics? This is where the magic comes. What led me to do this was more film animation than the art of puppetry. The idea, well, it’s also to create highly expressive characters. I wanted them to reveal their whole lives and touch the viewer using nothing but their posture.

OPUS 2 is the result of collaboration between several different realms, talents, even countries. Is this new to you?

OPUS 2 is a project that transcends borders. It was “made in France” with key partners. We also had support throughout Europe, notably from Bulgaria, the Czech Republic but also from the Lebanon and Cuba. It is a multiple-stage project that will keep developing at least until 2020.

We produced a first version of this project in Bulgaria with the Vidin National Puppet Theatre in Northern Bulgaria with five puppeteer performers who all helped to build the set, make the puppets and take part in the performances. Part of this team has come to join us in the production at the National Theatre in Nice. The show at the TNN will include video and digital arts. It’s a real laboratory!

You go beyond the framework of a simple show and make the art of puppetry take a leap into the modern world!

OPUS 2 was built a bit like a scientific programme. Scientists share their work through published journals. I hope to make knowledge about puppetry available so that it can be transferred, developed and evolve. Thanks to new technologies, a puppet joint can be modelled in 3D and produced the other side of the world through digital transmission of data. We start with handicrafts and head towards digital and international exchange. Still retaining a degree of simplicity, technology also allows us to network a community of artists based around this knowledge and to both preserve and develop it at the same time. We can do students workshops, writing workshops…there are so many possibilities !

let the adventure begin!
Rehearsal room running time 1h45 | limited seating from 10 years +
  • november
  • wed 14 7:30pm
  • thu 15 7:30pm
  • fri 16 7:30pm
  • sat 17 3:30pm
  • wed 21 7:30pm
  • fri 23 7:30pm
  • sat 24 3:30pm
le petit théâtre du bout du monde opus ll
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