February 25, 2024

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British director Tim Crouch is an Englishman in Avignon

British director Tim Crouch is an Englishman in Avignon

British director and actor Tim Crouch, dressed casually in flip flops and a loose white shirt, is plenty to smile about. He has two plays at this year’s Avignon festival, performing for the first time in France. A French adaptation of one of his plays was part of the “Off” festival. Not a bad start.

For some reason even he didn’t understand, Tim Crouch never had a show in France. His work has toured Europe over the years, but here in France his works are only now being discovered.

He is one of many English speakers invited to 77 this yeare The Avignon edition of the festival runs until July 25, where English is the language of honor. Apparently, Crouch was taken aback by all the attention.

“This place is extraordinary, this abode in the south of France, with swifts in the sky and bats flying above our heads. Birds landing on two plane trees on either side of my room… Then a room full of 470 people listened and seemed to embrace the ideas. There was a lot of love, And then there was the champagne… it’s good,” he told 42mag.fr.

Sitting down to chat the day after the premiere of “On an Oak Tree,” Crouch said of her co-star Natacha Koutsoumou, “she’s everything I want from an actress for this play.” She was open, vulnerable, emotional. , Responsive, Technology”.

Role of public

Seeing them together at the majestic heritage site known as Cloitre des Celestins, one would think they had worked together for years.

The truth is, they only met a few hours before the show. Natasha didn’t look at the script and didn’t learn any lines. None of the other actors were invited to “play” supporting roles with Crouch. They will find text at the same time as public.

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Through clever use of microphones, headphones and music, Crouch alternately speaks to the audience and through a different channel to a second actor following his lead.

“Oak Tree” is about grief and change. A bereaved father finds solace in believing that his daughter has taken the form of an oak tree. Crouch plays a hypnotist whose story is intertwined with tragedy. As the play progresses, the audience discovers how and why.

Crouch’s approach may seem dangerous, but he clearly thrives on this organized chaos. He describes his work as deliberately “imperfect”. It’s not that he’s lazy, he teases, but he’s just waiting to write the sequel.

“On an Oak Tree” by Tim Crouch (L) with Vittore Roris at the Clotre des Celestins, Festival d’Avignon, July 2023. © Christophe Raynaud de Lage / Festival of Avignon

Bring life back

According to him, he has made it his mission to restore the “vibrancy” that contemporary plays lack.

He says the play has become too polished and rehearsed. The audience is kept at a distance and “it’s like watching something on a screen,” says Crouch.

Crouch spent most of his early career working as an actor in other companies. About 20 years ago, frustrated by what he described as the “cult status” surrounding actors, he began writing with an audience-centered approach that he believed should be empowered.

His first play, “My Arm,” about a young man who insists on throwing his arm in the air in empty protest, was adapted into French (“Mon Bras”). Theophile Schlavis And is part of this year’s “off” festival.

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It is perhaps fitting that Shakespeare, a major figure in English drama and theater in general, is proud of his place in Avignon and has a special place in Crouch’s heart.

Over the years, the Englishman drew inspiration from the bard Small characters and creating a story around them, exploring classic works in a whole new light.

"The truth is, the dog needs to be kenneled", written and performed by British playwright Tim Crouch.  Avignon Festival, July 2023.
“Truth’s a dog Must to Kennel”, written and performed by British playwright Tim Crouch. Avignon Festival, July 2023. © Stuart Armitt

Questions

“Truths A Dog Must Kennel” is Crouch’s second play at the festival, inspired by the role of the madman in Shakespeare’s “King Lear”.. He pPresented at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2022.

“Shakespeare has a huge impact on how we think about drama and how we see ourselves as human beings. He invented man, in which for the first time the idea of ​​character or identity was separated from deities or religious constructs,” says Crouch.

Alone on stage, wearing a virtual reality headset, Crouch questions the different ways words resonate with the public and the power of representation. What happened to theater after the covid pandemic and over digitization? Does live performance have a place in our world?

Thanks to Avignon, Groupon can ask itself these questions and find some answers.