Abigail Anderson on Winning Awards in FranceDate: 15 June 2010
La Virgule (the name means The Comma or Point) is a theatre in Tourcoing, a suburb of Lille in France. This year was the second time they have held an international theatre festival, Les Eurotopiques, for which they invite submissions on a specific topic. This time the theme was Borders. With a colleague, the actor Ewan Downie, I submitted a proposal for a show about Torture and we were one of ten companies chosen to perform a script-in-hand work-in-progress at the Festival. Other participating companies were from France, Belgium, Hungary, Romania and Portugal.
Our show is called Hidden Birds and was devised by the acting company and Myself. These were Lewis Barfoot (who is a regular perfomer at the Pulse Fringe Theatre Festival in Ipswich), Ewan Downie (a member of the Polish theatre company Song of a Goat) and Brian Ferguson (currently at the National Theatre and previously with the National Theatre of Scotland and the Royal Shakespeare Company). The text uses partly primary sources (such as verbatim accounts, CIA training manuals, academic treatises and so on), is partly written by Ewan and partly improvised. The show is a mixture of physical theatre, improvisation and text work.
Hidden Birds was awarded both the Festival prizes – the Professional Jury Prize (voted for by a panel of seven high-profile European theatre and television practitioners, including Jean Marc Chotteau who is the artistic director of La Virgule) and the Audience Award (voted for by specially selected members of the audience who have watched all the plays in the festival). The Professional Jury Prize is a formal commission of the full work to be performed at some point during the next season at La Virgule (September 2010 to April 2011).
We are all very much looking forward to going back to work at La Virgule where the team are so enthusiastic about the show and where the reception we received from the audiences was overwhelming. A particular challenge is how to incorporate the French surtitles, as we perform (and improvise) mainly in English. Also, through meeting other companies at the Festival, we now have invitations to perform in Portugal and elsewhere in France.
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