BIRTH explores the bond between three women, their shared loss, their unconditional love and the strength they discover in each other.
Hi Guillaume thanks for talking to TNC, how's everything going?
Thank you for taking the time to chat with me. All is going very well, we have just finished a very exciting international tour of The Nature of Forgetting and now we are about to dive into the world of BIRTH. I feel very fortunate to be able to go from one project to the next like that.
You had an amazing sell-out run at this year’s Mime Festival in London, what has it meant for you to get this type of response from Birth?
It is incredible! I try to not think about the audience's reactions when I make a piece. I try, instead, to focus on what is it that we want to communicate as a company and the best way to achieve that but, of course, it is incredibly rewarding and addictive to witness how the piece resonates with others in such a strong way.
Are you all set for your return to Edinburgh Fringe and The Pleasance?
Nearly! We will have one more week of redevelopment and then two Edinburgh previews (one of them is at Latitude and the other is still very secret!) and then we will be ready!
What was your first fringe festival experience like?
It was in 2008 and we took two work-in-progress to the Forest Fringe in Edinburgh. It felt very special because we were able to get a taste of the festival without the financial burden that doing the Fringe requires. It also felt like we were not alone and were supported by the Forest Fringe community, which was invaluable.
Does it ever get ‘easier’ for you and Theatre Re when you’re bringing new works to the festival?
Yes and no. Some of it gets easier. All the logistics, for instance, are a little bit easier because we have done it before and we try to remember what worked and what did not. But ultimately because the shows are different and more ambitious on all levels, we can never really settle in one place and reproduce what we have done in the past. Also, the festival is always changing and so we have to keep evolving with it... I guess that's also why we keep going back... Because it is always different and challenging in lots of different ways... I have to admit that I absolutely love it and I cannot wait to be there again this summer!
"...be it devised theatre or straight plays, the moment it stops changing, it dies."
Can you tell me a little bit about Birth, how did this new play come about?
BIRTH is a powerful, poignant and uplifting visual theatre piece with live music exploring the bond between three generations of women, their shared loss and the strength they discover in each other.
The main question that led our exploration was: when does memory begin? At the very beginning of our research, we were interested in exploring the world of secrets within families. We all drew our family trees and shared it with the rest of the team. The aim was to unravel parallels between our own lives and the lives of our ancestors, and how issues or traumas might have been subconsciously passed down from one generation to the next.
What have been the biggest challenges bringing this production to the stage?
Our biggest challenge is to keep things simple... We created a lot of material that we really liked but then it is about being ruthless and only keep what is absolutely necessary and sometimes it is hard to let go...
Have you always had a passion for theatre?
I don't know if I have always had a passion for theatre, but I know that it has always been in the back of my mind... I started doing magic when I was about 14 and then joined youth theatre classes when I was about 15. I discovered Corporeal Mime when I was 18 and fell in love with it almost immediately. I knew I wanted to do that.
How did Theatre Re come about?
I founded Theatre Re in 2009, whilst still in training at the International School of Corporeal Mime in London. Originally the main purpose of the company was to be able to take Comme un Gant to the Avignon Off Festival and Your Letter, At Last! to the Dublin Fringe Festival. I then graduated at the end of 2010 and building on the success of these first two productions I started to dedicate myself full time to the company and Theatre Re became much more than just a vehicle for a production...
Has the approach you take when developing your shows changed much over the years?
The work has grown in scale and depth but I believe that the driving force is still the same, and it all comes back to the name of the company and the prefix ‘re’. It is the ‘re’ of re-discovering and re-imagining, breathing new life into what already exists to remind everyone about what has been forgotten, dismissed or buried...
With devised theatre do you keep tweaking it or is there a point when you’re able to stop adapting or changing the piece?
I think that with any kind of live performance, be it devised theatre or straight plays, the moment it stops changing, it dies. It has to stay alive and surprising and new and fresh all the time, and that requires constant change.
What has been the best piece of advice you've been given?
'Memory is the first artist'.
Do you have any advice you would offer a fellow theatre maker?
Take your time!
And finally, what do you hope people will take away from this show?
I hope people come out of the theatre feeling uplifted and reminded about the beauty and extraordinary fragility of life.