Interview with Stéphane Olry, Corine Miret and Bernadette Marthelot

DSC_0042.JPGH: What surprised you and what didn’t you expect from your visit to London?

C: To walk so much!

(Laughter)

S: The way people work here is quite different, there is a rhythm of working, the way you make decisions. For instance, in France we decide everything for the next season very early. And we discovered that here many things can be decided around three months before. This is impossible in France. Also the time devoted to rehearsals is quite short [in London]. And to know that we can cast around two months ahead was quite surprising…  In France if you ask an actor if he or she is free in the next month, you have to be really lucky for him or her to say yes. .

B: I have a similar impression. I don’t know if it is true but for me it seems that things here are done quicker here and then, because of that, in a simpler way.

H: My next question was going to be about your impressions of theatre here. Maybe you have something to add to what you said already?

C: There really is another way to make and show theatre. We visited Soho Theatre, The Print Room and Park Theatre. There is so much going on. The adventure of Park Theatre with its two stages and the Soho Theatre with two or three shows going on at the same time…  There is really another rhythm, much quicker. And on stage, as we saw in Arthur Miller’s piece [The Last Yankee at The Print Room], I think the way of acting is influenced by that. The actors are much more present, they are completely immersed in the action, here and now. In France, sometimes, actors have a distance from the text they are performing…

S: Because they are all very clever!…

C: This can be great sometimes but if you would like to have a more realistic style of acting, it can be really difficult to achieve. If I had seen this piece in France, I probably wouldn’t have liked it because the acting style is completely different there. But here, it was very well done and really pleasant.

H: What motivated you to make work for London and has this motivation changed in any way after this week?

S: Yes. Some of the meetings we had were really interesting, we found people who really excited us and made us want to work with them or in that particular space. We felt like we could have an adventure together.

C: I don’t know if it has changed but it is definitely more concrete now. Especially after meeting Neil and seeing his connection to the text simply from reading it. I think now we can also imagine how the piece we have created could be different. We thought that maybe the actor could be a man instead of a woman. So it really is a new process, it’s not just giving the text to another person to recreate it in the same way as I did but a completely new piece. I can see this now after meeting all these people this week.

H: Are there any elements that would discourage you from working here, what are the challenges for you personally?

C: It is a big challenge for us to work in English, to direct someone in English. But we trust you, it seems like you and Theatre of Europe are the right way to make this project happen.

S: Of course, there is always the risk of failing and the challenge is not to.

C: Maybe the challenge would be whether we are able to work as fast as you are used to here. We usually take a lot more time. But that is also exciting.

S: There is a thing, you might call it a challenge. In our work we play with the audience. But we wouldn’t know anything about the audience before the opening night. It’s always difficult to know how people will react but here we don’t know anything at all. We don’t know the cultural ‘codes’ of the audience, in the same way as we do in France. We also found out that the way we make work and the type of work we make – the diptych – is quite unusual here. And that presents a challenge both for you, for the audiences here, and for us.

H: How did you get along with your secret mission?

S: Oh, my secret mission with the Craven A! I did not find anything. If someone knows where to find Craven A cigarettes without filter, please let me know, I am willing to pay!

C: But you know where the factory is.

S: Yes, it is in North West London and it is a big factory with a great statue of Anubis in the Egyptian style. If somebody is living in the northwest suburbs of London, maybe they can go to the factory and see if they still make Craven A without filter… thank you!

(Laughter)

H: And my final question is, could you imagine yourselves developing more work beyond this project for London?

C: I haven’t thought about this. Of course it would be possible but we would definitely have to stay a lot longer.

S: I think London is a very interesting place to work for me. There is a spirit of freedom and for us it is a kind of liberation, it is less heavy than France.

C: And maybe more joyful.

S: Yes, more joyful as well. There is more energy, a desire to do things and a curiosity. In the UK there is definitely something to discover about working with actors.

H: Thank you.

This interview was conducted by Henriette Morrison, transcribed and edited by Svetlana Karadimova

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