A flavour of France: Compagnie Animotion

As we continue with our trip around the world with ‘International Week’ we are going to introduce you to a few of the acts that have come far and wide.

Today we are having a quick catch-up with Compagnie Animotion who are performing Portmanteau for us this week. Having trained in England, Artistic Director, Hayli Clifton, leads the company from the south of France.

Hayli Clifton, Artistic Director, Compagnie Animotion

Hayli Clifton, Artistic Director, Compagnie Animotion

We started by discussing the differences between the audiences in France and those in England, Hayli explained “we have never started a show on time in France, English audiences are always on time, but the French audiences tend to be a little louder, we are hoping for some real competition during this tour” if that doesn’t sound like a challenge to show your appreciation as loud as possible I don’t know what is!

It is obvious to everyone that there is something special about rural touring so we wanted to find out from Hayli what makes it so special for Compagnie Animotion: “the intimacy is really special, being able to perform to an audience where most people know each other. We feel like we become part of the community, even just for half a day. It is very humbling.”

Portmanteau celebrates the golden years of silent cinema with a mix of original film with live action, slapstick antics, a sprinkling of puppetry and lovely old vintage style props to create a great sense of occasion. Hayli went on tell us where they gain their inspiration from “our love of silent movies has come from the programmes that we used to watch when we were little; programmes that had very little or no speech and that relied on visual humour and simple storytelling. Who didn’t love the Clangers, Bagpuss or Fingermouse? Wonderful.”

Production photograph from Portmanteau by Compagnie Animotion

Production photograph from Portmanteau by Compagnie Animotion

Intrigued to find out a little more about how Compagnie Animotion developed this performance style which includes mime, movement and sign language, Hayli explained “we wanted to create a new language of theatre, or at least one that hasn’t been explored in depth; we started by making work for Deaf audiences, and which was also accessible to all, and then, by using no spoken language, we realised we were making theatre that was accessible internationally.”

We also asked Hayli about some of the mishaps and moments of mayhem whilst touring, here is their starter for ten… “burning popcorn, having a snake slither onto the stage during a show, one gig in Finland where every member of the audience had come in fancy dress (amazing, we loved it!), one gig where one of the actors really wasn’t feeling well and turned green 10 minutes before the end of the show, and doing an 8 hour round trip in the rain for one 45 minute gig in Ireland….”

As the show features popcorn for the audience we had to find out Compagnie Animotion’s thoughts on the much discussed salted versus sweet matter, Hayli replied very sensibly “Salted. Sweet. Both mixed together to keep everyone happy.”

Our parting conversation is always along the lines of cake, we asked Hayli what was favoured in the company “Oooh. Apart from Tarte Tatin? Cupcakes as they don’t really exist in France. Or a good old rich fruit cake with a lovely cup of tea. And malt-loaf with a sliver of salted butter. Or brownies. We’re a company with a sweet tooth!”

See a snippet of the show here, plus you can catch this fantastic show in Stourport on Severn this week:

Thursday, 18th April 2013, 7:00 PM
The Stourport Civic Theatre Hall
Box Office: 01299 878087

If you’d like to find out more or follow the progress of Hayli and Compagnie Animotion then you can follow their blog http://compagnie-animotion.org/blog

About Live & Local

Live & Local is a not-for-profit arts organisation working across Derbyshire, Leicestershire & Rutland, Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire Staffordshire, Warwickshire and Worcestershire. We support a network of voluntary organisations that bring communities together to enjoy high quality, affordable and professional live performances and film screenings. Our work is made possible by investment from Arts Council England and local authorities in the areas where we work and it happens because of the dedication of volunteers.
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