ŻiguŻajg en­gages stu­dents with cur­rent is­sues through ‘L’Homme qui Marche’

Carla Zahra speaks to Chris­tiane Véri­cel and Ni­co­las Ber­trand from Image Aiguë, as they pre­pare for their first show in Malta: ‘L’Homme qui Marche’ (Preca Project) theatre show

The Malta Independent on Sunday - - LIFESTYLE & CULTURE -

The in­ter­na­tional phys­i­cal theatre piece L’Homme qui Marche (The Walk­ing Man) has left foot­prints across the Eu­ro­pean con­ti­nent and its neigh­bour­ing coun­tries, break­ing down bound­aries and paving the way for peace and tol­er­ance. Pro­duced by French theatre com­pany Image Aiguë, the show has been per­formed in France, Ger­many, Bos­nia, Mo­rocco and Ge­or­gia. Now, its next desti­na­tion is San Ġorġ Preca Col­lege in Ham­run, as part of the ŻiguŻajg In­ter­na­tional Arts Fes­ti­val for Chil­dren and Young Peo­ple 2018, on 23 Novem­ber at 5.30pm.

Since its foun­da­tion 35 years ago, Image Aiguë has united ac­tors from dif­fer­ent cul­tures, ori­gins, and ages on stage in over 40 coun­tries. But, on 23 Novem­ber, the com­pany will be shar­ing its mes­sage with a Mal­tese au­di­ence for the very first time. In their pro­duc­tions, each ac­tor speaks in their na­tive tongue and, to­gether, they find al­ter­nate means of un­der­stand­ing each other by cre­at­ing new forms of lan­guage, such as voice in­to­na­tions, fa­cial ex­pres­sions, body lan­guage, im­ages, mu­sic and emo­tions. Ni­co­las Ber­trand and Chris­tiane Véri­cel are part of the pro­duc­tion team that will be bring­ing L’Homme qui Marche to San Ġorġ Preca Col­lege, to­gether with Teatru Malta, in col­lab­o­ra­tion with Żigużajg, Val­letta 2018 and The French Em­bassy.

The aim of the project is to help stu­dents come to­gether through arts and to bet­ter their se­condary school ex­pe­ri­ence. The one-hour show cre­ates a di­a­logue be­tween the au­di­ence and two per­form­ers, en­cour­ag­ing the view­ers to re­flect on the con­tem­po­rary world. The site-spe­cific per­for­mance, which deals with bor­ders, dis­cusses how to share and live within a ter­ri­tory.

Speak­ing about the themes of the piece, Mr Ber­trand ex­plains: “One im­por­tant as­pect of the per­for­mance is the re­la­tion­ship that arises be­tween those who own some­thing and those who don’t. We treat th­ese themes with hu­mour and each au­di­ence mem­ber is in­vited to ex­press his views on is­sues that ex­tend beyond our­selves.”

The se­condary school stu­dents from San Ġorġ Preca Col­lege are in­volved in the putting-to­gether of the piece on two lev­els. Ber­trand ex­plains: “Firstly, as au­di­ence mem­bers, they will be the first ones to wit­ness the sto­ries of L’Homme qui Marche on the is­land. There­fore, their com­ments and re­ac­tions will con­trib­ute to mak­ing the themes of the show more rel­e­vant in a Mal­tese con­text.”

The show will also try to en­cour­age its au­di­ence to view so­ci­ety through a pos­i­tive lens and cul­ti­vate aware­ness that each per­son has the ca­pac­ity and re­spon­si­bil­ity to par­tic­i­pate and help cre­ate a more demo­cratic so­ci­ety. “Sec­ondly, we will work with some of the stu­dents as ac­tors and, to­gether, will re­search the char­ac­ters and the sto­ries that make up L’homme qui Marche. Then, the re­sults will be pre­sented to the stu­dents’ par­ents and friends,” he con­tin­ues.

The fin­ished re­sult will be a the­atri­cal con­ver­sa­tion based on four sto­ries, fol­lowed by a dis­cus­sion with the au­di­ence. The sub­ject mat­ter will cover mul­ti­ple top­ics, in­clud­ing sur­vival and food; find­ing one’s place in the world, bor­ders and re­sis­tance; work, power, the ex­ploita­tion of oth­ers and ma­nip­u­la­tion and so­cial or­gan­i­sa­tion, to­geth­er­ness and sep­a­ra­tion. “I make sug­ges­tions and pose ques­tions – with­out pro­vid­ing the an­swers my­self – to en­cour­age the spec­ta­tors to read the sto­ries again, vig­i­lantly, and then, to ex­press their thoughts,” says direc­tor Chris­tiane Véri­cel. “The role played by the au­di­ence is es­sen­tial in the re­cip­ro­cal artis­tic process we em­ploy for this show, as their feed­back en­ables a link be­tween the vir­tual space of the stage and the trans­po­si­tion of the shared mes­sage into the real world.”

The themes of this pro­duc­tion are is­sues that can be found at the heart of our so­ci­ety’s de­bate. “The no­tions of ter­ri­to­rial bor­ders, power re­la­tions and self-ex­pres­sion con­cern chil­dren, al­though, per­haps, not to the same ex­tent as adults, for­tu­nately,” Ber­trand con­cludes. ‘L’Homme qui Marche’ will be pro­duced by Image Aiguë and Teatru Malta at San Ġorġ Preca Col­lege, Ham­run on 23 Novem­ber at 5.30pm as part of the ŻiguŻajg In­ter­na­tional Arts Fes­ti­val for Chil­dren and Young Peo­ple 2018

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