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théâtre national de nice

Saison 2018-19

théâtre national de nice

[ Original creation | Co-production ]



with David Amar [vocals and music], Inbal Ben Haim [rope acrobatics] set design Domitille Martin costumes Sofia Bendhérif lighting Alexandre Toscani stage manager Raphaël Maulny production L’Attraction compagnie co-production Archaos - Pôle National Cirque Méditerranée, Théâtre National de Nice - CDN Nice Côte d’Azur, Festival Scène de Cirque - Ville de Puget-Théniers, Maison du Parc National et de la Vallée de Luz-Saint-Sauveur, Festival Rue(z) vous - Ville de Valbonne residences Maison du Parc National et de la Vallée de Luz-Saint-Sauveur, Théâtre National de Nice - CDN Nice Côte d’Azur, École élémentaire de Puget-Théniers, Ville de Valbonne, Centre Régional des Arts du Cirque SUD PACA - Piste d’Azur with support from the Ville de Nice and the Conseil Départemental des Alpes-Maritimes the Région Grand Est and the Centre National des Arts du Cirque

What does it mean to be a human being living on this planet? Barefoot, her body suspended high above us, a young woman swirls and floats around this fundamental question. Almost 10 meters off the ground, she rotates herself around a climbing rope, hugging it, losing it, then finding it again. Here is a gracious ballet that speaks of this link we have with Earth, our origins, the planet that feeds and nurtures us.
In perpetual motion, the incredible Israeli circus performer Inbal Ben Haim questions what it means to be rooted to the ground and what one’s own roots actually signify. Accompanied by the inspired soundscape of the musician David Amar, she develops a groundbreaking love poem about the pure, vital and organic relationship with Nature. A poetic dream about our origins… a festive and unleashed performance.

A fascinating duo made up of a string player who is in love with the Earth and an exalted singer/musician. Let’s rediscover our roots together!


Interview Jean Jacques Minazio

Interview by Caroline Audibert

Your show pools three talents – how did this come about?

I’m very eclectic with my creative work. The circus first came into my life as an actor and director twenty years ago. Since the Centre Régional des Arts du Cirque in the PACA région (Piste d’Azur) was set up, I have been involved in directing, teaching acting, stagecraft and staging. So, it has been twenty years now that I have been working with young circus performers, preparing them for the grandes écoles. Inbal Ben Haim joined the Centre in 2013: during her first improvisation I was immediately struck by her stage presence. Everyone stopped to watch her, that’s how good she was. From then, we worked together for two years until 2015 when she left to join the National Centre for Arts and Circus Craft in Châlons-en-Champagne. During her three-year course there we kept in touch through work, driven by a common desire to continue to create artistic projects together. I introduced her to the musician David Amar. This is how the show came about. In July 2016, we were invited to “Circus Scene” in Puget-Théniers in the Alpes-Maritimes and this is when we really started to breath life into our outdoor performance.

It’s a show about the earth, about roots. The acrobat flies in the air – is there a dialogue between the elements?

It all revolves around ideas relating to the earth, the homeland, the adopted land, journeying, exile….. It’s very autobiographical. Inbal Ben Haim was born in Jerusalem. This young Israeli acrobat came to France in 2011 to pursue her artistic career. The theme of the earth is something she brought with her. We imagined a character just passing through, who travels and wonders about the meaning of life in terms of roots, migration…. She is looking for her own identity. The rope symbolizes her link to the earth, the soil, as well as to nurturing Mother Earth: it is like an umbilical cord. Her interaction with the apparatus is quite unique and that’s what I liked about this artist. This is not just a length of rope, but for her, a real partner. She pushes beyond the boundaries of the performance itself, beyond risk-taking and moves towards something else that goes straight to the heart.

Is this question relating to the earth something that you have wanted to ask, especially in relation to issues facing us today?

Meeting Inbal determined the perspective of this project. Her self-questioning was sufficiently intense to lead us to question ourselves. When this touches current migration and ecology issues, we realize that these are universal questions.

You began by devising an open-air version of the performance. Was it challenging to adapt it for stage?

We first started with a street version, performing beneath and up a tree! Not any tree of course! We usually picked plane trees or cedars. The rope is looped onto the tree, around a strong, slightly offset branch.. It has to be able to hold 400 kilos, the weight generated by the force of a suspended, moving body. Outside, Inbal is suspended at a height between 5 and 8 metres with no safety net or harness. We very quickly began to realize the show’s theatrical potential and decided we should take it indoors, to tell the story using all the possibilities and demands of a theatre space: the black box, lighting…. to give it a totally new dimension. Inbal will be suspended 9 metres above the stage with no safety equipment. We have a lot of scope for movement! What is interesting is not to show risk purely for the sake of risk but to take the audience on a poetic journey and to get them to realize at a certain point that the trapeze artist is holding on only with her hands or her leg…and that they feel the thrill of that.

You have experimented with having a very direct relationship with the earth, with the tree, with an outdoor audience. Are you looking to recreate that on stage?

We work with the earth as a substance in its own right. Earth comes from the suitcase, the rope appears from the earth. Outside, it rains earth from the tree where Inbal is performing: that earth falls back to the ground. We explore this idea of perpetual motion, of circularity, of the cyclic. In the theatre we have our earth too, it rains down…..especially when we imagine that we are at the roots of a tree in the belly of the earth. Our challenge was this: how do you move scenery when it’s a tree? Certainly not by recreating a pretend tree on stage but on the contrary, by trying to extend the reach of the script of the show. This character Inbal, who is just passing through; this musician, the witness who narrates: we have brought these two dramatis personae on stage. What will happen? It was at this point that the story took a less realistic turn, appealing to the imagination, to a more dreamlike dimension. These two characters are in the foliage, perhaps also in the roots. The story is told from the inner matrix of the earth, from within. We don’t impose a meaning, we want the audience to decide: are we in a fantasy underground world amongst the roots or are we in an outdoor world in the foliage?

For you, is the music as important as the acrobatic part of the show?

Inbal tells her story using the rope and David expresses himself through music. His score is very organic and haunting, leaving spaces for silence to settle in. The composer was inspired by the way the acrobat moves on the rope. It is also a form of narration. We are obviously watching a poetic circus act. With aerial work, there is clearly an element of risk that the physical feat takes the upper hand… but the music fully occupies the entire stage. A specific of David Amar’s work is that he blends his classical training with improvisation. He is a virtuoso saxophonist who can turn his hand to many instruments. He has trained in sound painting and has explored instruments from around the world like the fujara, a Slovak flute or the African finger piano, the kalimba. His compositions reflect the richness of his world. David Amar is more than an accomplished musician. His voice is an instrument in itself. His work as a vocalist explores layers of sound, it is a vocal expedition with effects that can naturally modulate and transform the voice: he sometimes uses a looper (an electronic device that records sound tracks so that they can be played back live). In Racines, we have a creative process that David defines as “real time composition.“

Is this theatre without words a theatre of movement and sound?

Outdoors we tend towards a classic narrative with scenes that follow on from one another. On stage, we seek to take the audience into a more dreamlike dimension. It brings to mind the slow placing of the pieces of a puzzle, of a visual and acoustic fresco that gradually appears before your eyes. We are going to include vocal elements on stage. We have chosen poems as a sound source: Mediterranean texts, works of contemporary poets, for certain. Inbal’s voice recites them in Hebrew, Arabic, English and French. By giving voice to these modern poets, we seek to add a cosmopolitan dimension to the show.

Is this to emphasize the idea that the land belongs to everyone, that we are all the issue of a blending of cultures?

Yes, what is my place here, what is that of others? It’s practically a philosophical question that comes to the fore through Inbal’s own questioning. But I don’t want to head towards didactic theatre, I’d much prefer to keep things light. I want any self-questioning to come over in a very sibylline and light way. Primarily, I would like the show to speak as much to a five-year-old who marvels at seeing a young woman high above on a rope and listens to the entrancing music, as to adults who will be reading more into it all. I like to reach very different audiences, to achieve some kind of universality. Music and physical expression are languages that speak directly to everyone, that trigger emotions in a simple way, without resorting to any particular reference.
I like to leave room for the spectator – I never think of him or her as a person all cosy in a velvet armchair, blissfully watching the performance. I want to give him or her the possibility of being involved, to think, to self-question. This is the very meaning of theatre, to share something with others, to come out feeling changed, shaken up, transformed, able to see the world differently. We are not talking consumerism here!

always on the move
Main Auditorium running time 1h from 8 years +
  • january
  • fri 25 8pm
  • sat 26 3pm
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