Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2019
"During the opening night, we thought we would die – so many things didn't work! It was a relief when the audience laughed and laughed and couldn't see what was going wrong."
FISHBOWL | Pleasance Courtyard (Grand)
31st July – Monday 26th August 2019 (not 14th), 13:00 | TICKETS
Perfectly capturing the energy of the silent film with meticulously precise slapstick, this hilarious and engaging show quickly became the most celebrated comedy production in France.
Hi Pierre thanks for talking to TNC, how's everything going?
Very good. We are currently playing back at Le Théâtre du Rond Point in Paris, it's our third time performing in Paris and we are really pleased it's a huge success again!
How does it feel to be at Edinburgh Fringe?
The whole team is super excited! We created the show in June 2014 and from the very beginning, our ambition was to come to Edinburgh to do an Edinburgh Fringe run. So... here we are!
Are there any nerves ahead of your UK Premiere?
Yes and no. No, because we've already performed the show more than 450 times. Yes because we hope the audience in Edinburgh will love the show as much as people in France, Belgium and Switzerland. Even if we've already performed abroad, we hope the British sense of humour will be compatible with Fishbowl!
What did it mean to you to see Fishbowl win the Moliére Award for Best Comedy Play in 2017?
It is the most important award for theatre in France, we were so proud and honoured to receive it. It also had a big impact on the audience: since this award, more and more people want to see Fishbowl all over France, now in each town we tour we are sold out.
Did you expect you would get this type of recognition for your play?
We hoped for it. After 80 performances all across France Fishbowl went to Paris –
our first time at Le Théâtre du Rond Point was a big success – it happened very quickly and the show was received so enthusiastically by the audience. The press and industry were amazing. Due to this success, we had an eight-month run at Théâtre Tristan Bernard. It was after that we hoped we could win the award for the Best Comedy Play!
Can you tell me a little bit about Fishbowl, what can we expect?
It is a comedy. Three characters live in three very small rooms. There are lots of gags. Not one word spoken. The audience follows the stories of these three people whose lives are very challenging.
The show is hilarious, but also tender and heart-breaking. We want the audience to empathise with the characters. To laugh along with them as they experience their trials and tribulations, so everybody shares the joke and leaves the show feeling uplifted.
What was your inspiration for Fishbowl?
I used to live in one of these very small bedsits, under the roof, in Paris for 10 years. That was my main inspiration!
"I started to write and I realised I could be funny and dark at the same time."
There is a creative genius behind this play, how did you come up with this concept?
I am a playwright, but even when I write plays I always like to create some parts without any words for the actors – and then the actors become authors. Perhaps because I love actors most of all if they don't have any words they always find some way to exist, to live on stage. And for the funniest actors, they can come up with an outstanding scene that no author could write!
What have been the biggest challenges bringing a production to life?
We experienced challenges for Fishbowl all along the journey. After six weeks of rehearsals we put on a 20-minute showcase, which was well received by the industry and because of that, we were able to tour.
We went into rehearsals for a further three months, we spent day and night trying to figure out how to tell a story without using spoken word, we needed to build props and mechanism for the hundreds of 'disasters' that happen during the show. During the opening night, we thought we would die – so many things didn't work! It was a relief when the audience laughed and laughed and couldn't see what was going wrong.
As co-writer/performer/director how do you manage all these roles?
The camera saved me! We recorded the rehearsals, not only for me but also for the two other actors and cowriters (Agathe and Olivier) so we could see and think about what we had done. This way we could really perform the scenes, figure out how to write the play and how to make it funnier and to give the depth and tenderness of the characters.
Usually, I don't act in my own shows. It was a very unique experience because I wanted to perform this kind of theatre; to act it, to write it was the same thing for me.
Describe Fishbowl in 3 words?
Funny, misadventure and moving.
When a production like Fishbowl is running is it always evolving or are you able to avoid changing too much of it?
The only way to evolve was to rehearse. Fishbowl is written like music or dance. All the sights, movements and the rhythms must be the same to be able to tell the same story.
During the first two years of touring we had to rehearse a lot to improve the scenes, the props etc it was exhausting for the whole team, technicians and actors.
Now the show doesn't evolve a lot, but it's live art, so each performance is different!
Have you always had a passion for theatre?
Yes, since I was a child. I used to imitate Dalida (famous French singer) standing on a chair.
Has your style and approach to creating your shows changed much since you started?
Yes, a lot! In the beginning, I was fascinated by directors like Patrice Chereau or Gorgio Strehler, who mostly directed classical plays. I've found my own way step-by-step. I started to write and I realised I could be funny and dark at the same time. I discovered I could write plays about modern life that mixes poetry, triviality and entertainment.
What has been the best piece of advice you've been given?
At school, I went to see the careers advisor and told her how I dreamt of being an actor and she told me: you want it, do it!
Do you have any advice you would offer a fellow theatre maker?
Don't do it! I'm joking. Any advice: no. It's so difficult... I see very sad people around me because they haven't had the career they dreamt of...
Do it! - But be aware of the risks you take.
And finally, what do you hope people will take away from this show?
A physical experience, the mind and body overcome with laughter and empathy. We see people leave the show happy. They have laughed a lot, but at the same time, they feel empathy for the three characters and their challenging lives, this one woman and these two men who are a little bit like us!