The allocation of the Ministry of Culture to puppetry is a true recognition. The “Centre national de la marionnette” (CNMa) label, enthusiastically welcomed by interested parties, recognizes the extraordinary development of this art and its legitimate and undisputed place among the performing arts supported by the state. CNMa, Philippe Genty, Emilie Valentin, Jean-Pierre Lescot, followed by many others and around Charleville-Mézières, the National School of Puppets and the world festival, equipped with appropriate equipment, especially with a production workshop near the set.
In September 2022, six theaters spread throughout the territory were given the National Center de la marionette label. In the medium term, about ten structures will benefit from this label. We take a look at three of them with their history and characteristics: Hectare in Vendôme, Espace Jéliote in Oloron Sainte-Marie and Muffetard in Paris.
Centre-Val-de-Loire: Key to cultural development in rural areas
At the end of the last century, at the turning point of his acting career, Frederic Maurin met the puppeteer Roland Schoen, who entrusted him with the interpretation of his play. Treasures of Dibouji, it will be played more than 1,200 times around the world. It was love at first sight, he tells us, which would later lead him to L’Hectar in Vendome (Loir-et-Cher) in 2004: ” The doll hides a poetic power that surpasses anything you can imagine. When an inert form (an image, an object, an indeterminate shape) comes to life, it reveals an incredible mystery that fascinates me: the ever-renewed mystery of this inexplicable moment when life rises, the coincidence of death. Thus, the question of meaning also arises. »
If the art of puppetry was not a folk art by origin, this aesthetic dynamic would not have such an effect. ” The art of impudence and impudence against the powerful and the rich, the puppet became a complete art close to opera in the 20th century: popular public, modern creativity, interdisciplinary (writing and drama, script and visual arts, musical works). »
Hence the third, most important feature: puppetry is a huge tool for cultural development. ” In the Val de Loire Centre, a huge rural area consisting of 65 municipalities (a total of 55,000 people) centered on the city of Vendome (16,000 inhabitants), we thought twenty years ago that we would start with family forms. open (“puppet show tonight at 7pm in the village hall!”). Our bet – a successful one – was to accompany the population year after year, often turning them into modern art, without really doubting it. Today, the public is not afraid of puppets, shadows or objects theater with great artistic demands and sharp and modern dramaturgical goals, for example, gender, refugees, environmental issues. And thanks to the contract signed with L’Echalier, l’Hectar develops residences for artistic collectives in rural areas, thus always being as close as possible to the residents.
The label is also a sign of recognition, the effect of which is not felt for a long time: ” Eight years ago I called the Maisons de la Culture, the National Drama Centers and the National Stages to offer them participation in the puppet festival. Today they all come to our biennale, which will take place in January and February 2023 in Vendome and throughout the Centre-Val de Loire region. »
Nouvelle Aquitaine: “Multi-partner” work, local, regional and international impact
” I realized how creative this art is, Jackie Challa, formerly a theater-loving literature teacher at Haut Béarn, now director of Espace Jéliote, explains. Surprisingly innovative in its forms, themes, use of space, change of scale… Animation puts life and death at the center of this art. Manipulation brings to him the question of power. There is also an aesthetic dimension, which gives pride to fine art. In short, obviously this art is not a small art. It was necessary to support him so that he could take his rightful place on the stages of the whole country. »
Jéliote’s programming rotation project has been launched. ” We had to make our public aware of the specific codes of this art as well as the object theater. We have created a month of November dedicated to dolls. We come to discover many different forms of new creativity. “In 2010, Kosmos received the approved Stage label,” which gave us certain means of production. We decided to support two artists for three or four seasons. A renewed pursuit for some (Angélique Friant, Pier Porcheron, Fanny Bérard, etc.) like Elise Vigneron, whom we have followed since she left school in Charleville-Mézières. »
A great success will not see the light of day without a collective spirit: ” For more than 20 years, we have been collaborating with the communes of Haut-Béarn, the departmental council, the region and the province.Jackie Challa says. With a label, everyone is more committed. Thus, we were able to upgrade our workforce while we needed human resources to suit our project. »
Espace Jéliote is in the heart of a large rural area where shows are performed. But this local spider web goes beyond the region: it is also national and cross-border: Bayonne, Bordeaux, Toulouse, Zaragoza. ” As part of our international support missions, for example, we lead a creative and EAC project with Argentinian artist Juan Pérez Escala and the Tolosa International Doll Center, located 200 km from home in the Basque country of Spain. »
” On the training side, the label allows us to be identified by regional conservatories. We will soon sign a framework agreement with Pau and Bayonne. Production support remains, which I think we’ll need to develop because a lot of artists have great projects that can’t make ends meet… »
Ile-de-France: an atypical national center in the heart of Paris
Le Mouffetard was originally a group of passionate puppeteers who created Puppet Week in Paris in the 1980s. In 1992, under the direction of Lucile Bodson, the week became a season, that is, a permanent theater … but out of place. One of the challenges is getting the puppeteers to play in Paris close to the press, programmers and population pool of the region. To solve this constant problem, Lucile Bodson, then the current director Isabelle Bertola, organizes a program for each season in collaboration with the public theaters of Paris.
It will be necessary to wait until 2013 for the city of Paris to present the Muffetard theater room to puppeteers. ” Migration has allowed us to build a strong and warm network of partnershipsIsabelle Bertola explains, In addition, we always activate, host shows on big stages. This long nomadism also explains why, unlike all other CNMas, we are not a multidisciplinary room, and for good reason: multidisciplinarity, we bring it to our partners.
” Despite everything, this nomadism had its limits: we were almost invisible, except for a narrow circle of enthusiasts. And we have hardly been able to include young emerging artists in our programs. At Mouffetard, we follow this emergence closely by following school campaigns and even including the Scènes Ouvertes à l’Insolite festival dedicated to it in our programming over the years. After meeting certain artists thanks to the festival, we go even further, buying ourselves into their new creations in advance, giving them the opportunity to find other support.
” In addition, in odd-numbered years, our International Puppet Art Biennale honors artists of international renown. We are again a partner for the seminar and training aspect, which are other important elements of our development listed in the label specifications. The Théâtre aux mains nues gives us access to his workshop and we give him access to our stage. Our training offer is general. The Théâtre aux mains nues is also a collaborator of the festival dedicated to emerging artists. »
Here, institutional recognition also comes to salute the treasures of ingenuity, patience and courage that Mouffetard’s team has deployed over the past three decades. In the near future, he will have to find a more suitable site that will allow him to register his platforms, workshop and resource center in the same place. There will be a stage of adequate size for all art forms. He will find there his offices (which is not yet!), an artist house, more creative residencies, more production and education. A beautiful development worthy of him, Paris and its region!