Isn’t it splendid? You are at sea, in the icy areas of the poles, your old wooden boat is cracking all over the place, but the halyards, shrouds and sails, frozen, are shining to shatter in the few rays of sunshine.
And here, there, all around you, stand, immense, Frozen Words.
I didn’t make that up, of course.
It was François Rabelais who imagined that. It’s a Pantagruel’s adventure :
“We are here at the edge of the Sea of Ice, where at the beginning of last winter, a great and cruel battle took place between the Arismaspians and the Nephelibates. The words and cries of men and women, the clashes of the masses of weapons, the clashes of armour and caparison, the neighing of the horses and all other battle noise froze in the air.”
With the thaw, the ice melts and the sound of words bursts into a strange symphony.
Panurge wants to see some and Pantagruel throws little frozen words on the deck.
As he takes them in his hands, the words warm up and the sounds of the words explode like incredible bubbles.
In this case too, as in that of all the immense works of literature, this chapter has been fruitful: there are an incredible number of creations that vary on this theme.
A few years ago, I saw a company of musicians who wanted to ‘hear’ the sound of a word that is unfrozen.
A lot of theatre companies have staged this episode. This one is a marvel. ( it’s in French – but the staging is … quite amazing! and I think you can enjoy it even without the words. I hope)
And above all, because I saw it too, I was in a room full of teenagers (brought there by their teachers), a totally brilliant production based on music and object theatre. From one end to the other, these teenagers were stunned. They took off their “yeah yeah”, became kids again and carried the show like a heartwarming spectacle.
– It’s a very small company, I don’t have pictures or videos.
That’s the advantage of the job: by dint of going to see, you end up knowing who’s doing wonders – and who’s doing stupid vanities.–
I don’t know if object theatre is very well known outside France. It seems to me that in English you call this “Puppetry arts” – but they’re not really puppets.
It’s small companies that use it, they’re not very well known, they’re not AAA.
But they’re worth the detour.
It’s between puppet theatre and classical theatre – and it’s based on the empathy with the spectators, who are invited to put their brains in mode: imaginary and who will accept that a bicycle wheel starts screaming “revive” for example.
Basically, the object has its own life, it is no longer attached to its function, its identity is created by derivation, by all these images that can be associated with it.
And you end up with a scene full of a joyful junk shop, which comes to life thanks to actor-puppeteers and thanks to sound and light creations.
This is based on the metaphor: “finding the right shoe” – Thank you Cinderella! This company has some notoriety – so they may have some videos.
This is the kind of theatre that attracts lunatics like this young man – who is a real genius.
Afterwards, another excerpt from object theatre, by another company: your whole kitchen is on stage :
I think that’s why I love the performing arts so much. It’s all the fantasy of life.
And, as with video games & the famous ‘indie games’ producers, performing art companies with very, very little money, are incredibly inventive and creative. They don’t have the fear of losing – losing what? So they invent, they take over, they have fun.
And, even when there is a great disturbance in the Force… the sadness, to die of it, does not win, the show goes on, and with it the love of life. Isn’t life wonderful in the end ? of course it is.
Featured Image : excerpt from Gargantua & Pantagruel, a comic book by Dino Battaglia