Hic et nunc: at the same time in the same place


The 1st training course of the Cre-Actors' project in Paris

After months of stops and closures, after several virtual meetings, after so many postponements due to the still ongoing pandemic situation, on July 26th to 30th 2021, the Cre-Actors crew finally convened to exchange and work in person at the same time in the same place.

At the same time in the same place”: this is really the true specific magic of theatre, as of many rituals, be them religious or secular, providing that people gather not only to “assist” in something acted by other people, but really to live an experience together hic et nunc (here and now).
And what a place to start! Our first training course was held at the Théâtre du Soleil in Paris, and precisely on the stage that was hosting the scenery (and the spirit) of the new production directed by Ariane Mnouchkine, having Dominique Jambert and Vincent Mangado as wise, skilful and smiling guides, and a crew of 18 Cre-Actors from many different places in the world, all eager to work again on a stage after a long time!

Games and exercises for training, warming up, knowing each other and building the team spirit; then working through improvisations guided and inspired by music, text, a specific spacial configuration and a common shared background – Shakespeare’s Tempest: all of this was built step by step as a taste of how the Théâtre du Soleil works towards its collective devised creations. 

All the discoveries, explorations, learnings of this and the next Cre-Actors training courses will be detailed and collected in a final e-book, which will be available for everyone to enter the reflections about the lessons learned, the questions arising, the methodologies and practices experienced. But, in order to let you breathe in the emotion, the fun, the joy of this first encounter “after the plague”, we thought we would share some snippets from the crew’s daily journals:

«Domi and Vincent are both brilliant facilitators with great knowledge of their craft. Their constant iteration of words and phrases, like
Play”, Like a child”, Be in the moment” etc., fostered an environment in which the participants creativity and freedom of thought process were encouraged to thrive. Their charge, that to comprehend a role, the actor must be ready to engage with the process by imbibing the innocence of a child”, and "the inquisitiveness of a child” is enlightening». (Kunle, Ireland and Nigeria)

«The freedom to play like children and try anything – if it doesn’t work, that’s also a good thing because you can now try something else that might be better. I want to keep this freedom and joy in creating together in my future work... Also, just the pure joy of being back in a theatre and witnessing moments of magic – “you’re a tree, how are you going to exit the stage?”» (Rosie, Ireland and France)

«How important it is for [the rehearsal space] to be an aesthetic space. A respectful space to the creative process. An inviting space that anyone can feel ownership of and feel that it is conducting to expressing themselves». (Hanna – Ireland and Sweden)

«From this week I will keep the dream and the magic that everything is possible theatrically and humanly. The work between people of different cultures, languages, practices, ages. I will keep the collective imagination that we had, the collective fever, with the birds, with the fairies, the butterflies that speak, the sea, the shipwrecks… I want to be a fertile ground where this way of working takes root and flourishes, I want all this magic in my garden, we will pollinate the world of theatre! We worked on clear and concrete bases of artistic creation and human liberation, which I always look for in my pedagogical work». (Andrea – France and Chile)

«The dynamics of the intercultural encounter between the participants heightened the fun. Our different accents became the unifying language of our work. It energizes the vibe and ultimately galvanises our creative endeavours. Evidently, this atmosphere of trust and inspiration probably boosted the artistic sharing of ideas considerably. This, for me, is an important element of any intercultural undertaking». (Kunle, Ireland and Nigeria)
«Ive found inspiring the way they encouraged us also to interpret the same character created by somebody else in the group; in this way you could see his/her potential in different aspects and try to give life to a more deep and real character, stealing” in some way what the otherswork was about». (Ida, Italy)

«[I want to thank everybody], because this week rich in work of imagination, and in imaginary journeys, fed me as if I had been hungry for 1 year». (Saboor, France and Afghanistan)

Our journals were also full of many questions: how can we work this way (e.g. use very specific music and imagery) and still be permeable to all possible influences in our creation? What is the power and the limit of the use of mask in theatre? Where is the border – if any – between art for art’s sake and art for change? I guess we will still build more questions in the next months and training courses. While waiting for our next appointment, I’ll leave you with my personal first impression of this Parisian hic et nunc, waiting for our next meetings and our next training course in Italy in May:

«Being on the sacred stage and spaces of Théâtre du Soleil was the dream of many years in my life as an actress and as a theatre maker interested in arts for change – individual, cultural, social change. Admiring the painted walls, the paper lanterns, the costumes, the scenes, the behind-the-scenes, the spaces for theatre and the spaces for the group (the kitchen, the courtyard, the space for the kids…) was not only exciting but moving. Especially after the toughest years that we may remember in our life of individuals and theatre makers, years of closed theatres, years of distances, years with no bodies sharing the same physical space. So, I couldn’t think of a better way to start our process in the Cre-Actors project». (Micaela, Italy)

Micaela Casalboni - Teatro dell'Argine