Avant-garde puppetry, breakdancing to Bach, and kids-friendly clowns keep audiences glued to the fest.
Presented first at the Alliance Française on June 10 and 11 was Compagnie Aie Aie Aie’s object theatre—an avant-garde genre described as a revamp of puppetry—under the title of “Hippotheatron”.
As the audience filed into the auditorium, all the while wondering why their tickets had no seat numbers, they were led onto the tiered seats that spanned half the stage. Although the demand to cram together gave some a difficult time, the proximity between them and the show’s sole performer contributed perfectly to the nature of the performance, which required an up-close view of him and the objects he manipulated.
Despite limited room, Julien Mallena, in the role of the fallen carnival star, still managed to captivate us throughout the 45 minute-show by using simple shifts of lighting and vertical performance space, as well as his ingenious ability to give ordinary objects their own lives.
Miniature salt and pepper shakers were introduced to the audience as the squeaky voiced dwarfs Frida and Hanz, while a slender champagne glass was presented as Cleopatra, the sultry trapeze artist.
The cruel story of love and power that developed was a classic one, with Cleopatra seducing Hanz merely for his money, playing with the dwarfs’ tiny hearts and hurting their feelings for personal satisfaction. The drama, though filled with deception and pretence like a conventional well-made play, clearly wasn’t just entertainment. It also served as a wake-up call for society, in which difference is usually equated with abnormality, giving some people the excuse to treat others as objects.
At Patravadi Theatre on June 12 and 13, hip-hop troupe Compagnie Accrorap proved that the popular dance could spin beyond music videos and become a fully fledged performing art. “Short Stories.Com” told simple children’s tales by ingeniously combining popping, locking and breakdance with theatre, farcical humour, a soundtrack that ran from J. S. Bach to news reports, and bizarre props such as a radio-controlled dragonfly. The audience witnessed something extraordinary, and just as accessible as the dot-com title suggested.
The recurring image of a man in a trench coat and a bowler hat with white feathers was taken by a painting from Belgian artist Jean-Michel Folon “La Beauté du Rêve et de l’Enfance” (“The Beauty of Dream and Youth”).
Despite having been through embarrassing moments like being called a clown or given names because of height (or rather, the lack of it), the five performers in “Short Stories.com” still remained positive as innocent youngsters almost always did, and as the audience could see, have all grown into talented adults.
Projected onto the backdrop toward the end of the performance was Folon’s remark that it wasn’t necessary for one to offer to the public new inventions, but it was a must to live one’s dreams and inspire others to do so. That Accrorap has followed his advice was obvious from the awe and admiration shown to the quintet by the Thai dancers who joined in for an improvised finale.
So far, the only minor letdown of this French-Thai festival has been “A Wonderful World” by Compagnie BP Zoom, on June 19 and 20.
The repetitive and predictable physical gags would have been a delightful theatre experience for young children, but the 8PM curtain-up was too late for all but a few kids, performance, whose constant giggles broke the mainly adult audience’s silence at Aksra Theatre.
La Fete 2009's last stage performance is Pierre Rigal's "Press", of which "Time Out London" accalimed "Laugh-out-loud funny, tragic, breathtaking and hugely uplifting," on Tuesday, June 23) and Wednesday, June 24 at Aksra Theatre.
French Film Festival is running until July 1 at SF World Cinema. Don't miss "I've Loved You So Long" on Tuesday, June 23, and "Seraphine" on Saturday, June 27.
Also on view are Laurent Ballesta's "
For more, www.lafete-bangkok.com.
written by Jasmine Baker
published in THE NATION on Tuesday, June 23, 2009
photos courtesy of La Fête
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