Speaking to Theatre Témoin
Roxana spoke to Ailin Conant, the founding artistic director of Theatre Témoin to talk about their show The Marked. Animations Online have already seen the show up in Edinburgh and are pleased to see it's coming to London and touring again.
Ailin: Theatre Témoin was founded in Toulouse in 2007 by graduates of the London International School of Performing Arts (LISPA) as a forum for creating new works of theatre that are both socially engaged and fun. Our first project, Borderline, was a farcical look at the bureaucracy of the French immigration system. The cast was concurrently volunteering at the CIMADE – an organization that provides legal counsel for undocumented immigrants and their families – and it was this work that gave the piece most of its vitality, depth, and relevance. While creating Borderline we came to understand the importance – not just socially, but artistically – of dialoguing and collaborating with the communities around us. In 2010 we moved our base back to London and have since produced projects in the UK, USA, Mexico, Rwanda, India, Israel, and Lebanon.
Tell us more about the show:
Ailin: There’s an epidemic in this country at the moment of more and more people finding themselves in situations where sleeping rough seems to be the only option. There’s are stories here that are not being told enough. But "homelessness" isn't really a plot for a play is it? Really what I wanted to explore was the individual stories of people who happened to be, among many other things, homeless, and crucially what was happening inside the heads of these individual people, people who had gone through traumatic experiences. In 2012, I worked in Rwanda with a group of ex-child-combatants turned poets, and witnessed an incredible relationship between poetic, creative, mythological thinking and the ability to bounce back from the darkest of traumas.
When we began to work on The Marked, a similar relationship with the poetic and mythical began to surface, where people that we spoke to who had gone through incredible traumas had developed an almost mythical language to speak about the world. This is what I wanted to explore in making this play.
What about the puppetry in the show?
Ailin: Puppetry wasn't in our original conception, when we set out we were going to focus on masks. But then the story drifted into the childhood of the protagonist (which makes sense, adult experience is formed by childhoods), as well as the idea of the "poetic companion" of the pigeon, and so puppetry became a natural way to create a child and an animal that fit into our world of masked adults. We've worked a great deal with Puppetry in the past, notably with "The Fantasist", so we know how endearing and devilish puppets can be!
And finally can you tell us a show that you saw recently and loved?
Ailin: Us / Them by Bronks, stunning show, simple concept, not to be missed!
You can catch The Marked from tomorrow at The Oval House Theatre and then at The Everyman Theatre in Cheltenham. For more information or tickets please click here.