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Julie Tenret, Sicaire Durieux, Sandrine Heyraud, three performers from the Belgium based Chaliwaté and Focus companies, joined their talents to create Dimanche: a wordless call to arms against our own ravaging climate monster, perfect for the whole family including kids 5+. Involving lo-fi FX, miniature vehicles, puppetry, video, deadpan mime and ingeniously simple physical recreations of film language it constantly delights and makes us wonder as much at the cleverness of humanity as at its stupidity.

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Each of you already have a great background working with your companies, Focus and Chaliwaté : what prompted this reunion ?

For a long time we have been following and appreciating each other’s work. It became clear that we had a similar approach to our art and it was obvious that we shared a common taste for unusual theatrical forms. As if we spoke the same visual, artisanal and poetic language. Although we use different tools – body and gestures for Chaliwaté, miniature objects and puppetry for Focus – we found a common language, besides a great artistic and human affinity. The three of us wrote the script almost three years ago, we then had over twenty other people collaborating to make it happen with us.


Did the main theme of Dimanche [climate change] come up early in the process ? And why this choice ?

Yes, we started immediately to work around sustainability and the unavoidable catastrophe we’re going towards.  In March 2018, we created the short form Back up (which is the first part of Dimanche): from Festival XS  to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, the possibilities of producing and taking it around the world grew quickly.

The starting point of the script is the discrepancy that we observed in ourselves and in others: on one hand, there is the extreme urgency to act on climate and to take political decisions, and on the other hand, the inability to really integrate this urgency and this need for change into our daily lives. We look like a community of people who are totally out of sync with the current time - we try to maintain our daily lives to the point of absurdity.


Why this title ?

Dimanche means Sunday in French : not only it’s when the story develops in the show, but it’s symbolically the day dedicated to rest and family activities.


Where do you find your inspiration ?

In anything that is around us : especially the day-to-day routine and the current news. We work meticulously, concentrating on the smallest details to create a singular visual and poetic language, which grows from daily life, the personal and intimate experience, the “infra-ordinary”, aiming to touch the universal. It’s a form of writing that is common among us.


How would you describe your work?

Our scenic writing is close to cinema writing, with close-ups, traveling shots, wide shots, zooms and other transpositions of spaces ... Everything goes through the work of images. At the center of the story is the actor, who drives the story as storyteller, character or manipulator. Objects are above all used for their symbolic, subjective and metaphorical value, they can be diverted or transformed. This type of writing allows you to design unique scenic spaces, inside and outside, to play with different scales.


You all had to get familiar with each other’s techniques and art forms. Was it hard?

We wanted to mix all our tools and our key skills to create the best possible language that could tell the story. It was a collective effort.


There was already an international tour waiting for Dimanche, even before its world premiere. How do you explain this success? Is it because of its themes?

Well, certainly the topic has attracted the attention of many programmers. We also had the chance to present Backup for a month at the Fringe and received the Total Theater Award, visual theater category. Being a completely visual show, it doesn’t need translations and it’s really accessible, which also helps…


The future you paint in Dimanche is quite grim and dark. Do you feel pessimistic?

We think there is hope in the show, but it is not necessarily at the end of the show. It is elsewhere: in humanity, in mutual aid, in the love that people have for each other. We are quite pessimistic about the global policy that does nothing against global warming, but we still believe that humans can turn things around.


Interview by Emilie Gäbele, 14 octobre 2019.

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