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STEREOPTIK Dark Circus
Dates:August 10-12, 2018
“Come for the show, stay for the woe“ is the motto of the morbid circus at the centre of STEREOPTIK’S latest piece. Dark Circus is the result of a collaboration between Pef, author and illustrator of The Prince of Motordu and numerous other children’s books, and Romain Bermond and Jean-Baptiste Maillet of STEREOPTIK. A chance meeting nine years ago blossomed into a friendship, and from this friendship grew the desire to create something together.
Dark Circus represents two firsts for STEREOPTIK. It is the first time the company will work from a script, and the first time words will be spoken on stage—a down-at-the-heels rocker of an emcee has the honour...
In this sad circus the catastrophes pile up, one number after another. The trapezist crashes to the ground, the animal trainer is devoured by his lion, the human cannonball never returns from outer space. Luckily there’s a clumsy juggler to breathe a little colour into the proceedings.
If the circus is dark, the tone is light. Music and images accompany the action and the story is laced with poetic moments and a healthy dose of irony: “Come for the show, stay for the woe.”The ink drawings that provide the backdrop for Dark Circus, thick and black, resemble photographs in their use of light and contrast. The various techniques used onstage create images of extraordinary beauty and inventiveness. Here, the visual magic of the theatre meets the childlike wonder of the circus. Before our eyes, an urban landscape of buildings and streets transforms into a crowd-filled tent. Lit from above, a drum set becomes a runway to the stars, the neck of a guitar morphs into a stern animal trainer. A few flicks of an eraser and a wild horse is liberated from the ring, spreading poetry in his wake.
Founded by Jean-Baptiste Maillet and Romain Bermond, STEREOPTIK makes cinema without film, using sound and images projected onto a giant screen to create live animated features. Everything, from the music to the illustrations, is created in front of the audience using traditional methods – pen, charcoal, paint, ink, chalk, sand – with no digital effects or editing. The company’s pieces play with the relationship between a work and the process of its fabrication.
At once illustrators, musicians, projectionists and sound designers, the two artists also serve as lighting designers and cameramen. On either side of the screen – Jean-Baptiste on the bandstand and Romain at the drawing table – they work in perfect synchronicity to perform the stories that they develop together over the course of long periods of experimentation in the studio.
Both Jean-Baptiste and Romain have backgrounds in fine art and music. With the utmost complicity they work together to craft every aspect of their pieces. The two first met while playing in the rhythm section of a brass band – one on the snare, one on the bass drum – and rhythm continues to inform their work – for STEREOPTIK, tempo is key.
For Jean-Baptiste Maillet and Romain Bermond, each project is a chance to experiment with new tools and new techniques. Mixing arts-and-crafts simplicity with a poetic sensibility, their work elicits a childlike wonder. Inspired by the silent movies of the past, the company has sought from its inception to create theatrical experiences that are accessible to audiences of all ages, all cultures, all languages. STEREOPTIK uses the magic of the theatre to transform simple, everyday objects into a marvellous voyage of the imagination.