The collaborator – an interview with Charlot Lemoine, Velo Theatre
Ahead of a run of ‘There’s a Rabbit in the Moon’ at the Barbican later this month, Velo Theatre’s Charlot Lemoine tells Animations Online how the French company has converted a jam factory into a flexible, creative space and explains the joy of returning to old favourites.
Tell us about your theatre space and what goes on there.
Our space is an old fruit preserving factory east of Avignon in Provence. The area is full of cherry trees and the factory once made jam. We converted the space while we were working on a new piece called ‘Latitude’ – the conversion came from our experiments. We decided we’d invite other creators to spend time here and build their projects – not just puppetry, but anything from fine art to dance. It’s a huge space that can be changed in relation to the artist.
How do you find the artists who come to stay and collaborate?
There’s no rule, although it’s mainly people we discover when we’re touring. We tour a lot and are always seeing shows and inviting people. Some people only need space for a week, some for a month. There are also three dance spaces in the south of France – people apply to come here from them. The chosen project that comes then moves between the spaces and grows between them.
One artist you’ve worked with recently is Scottish puppeteer Shona Reppe. How did that come about and do you plan to collaborate with more UK artists?
Shona is a crazy woman! But I like her madness, it’s wonderful. We met when we were both touring in Canada on the same tour. I went to work with her in Scotland and she came to our space twice. Last year we worked with Monkey Shine Theatre in Ireland, again I went to their space and they came to mine.
Do you have any new shows in the pipeline?
We are building a new show at the moment, which just premiered at the Momix Festival. It’s called 'La grenouille au fond du puits croit que le ciel est rond', which means 'The frog in the bottom of the well thinks the sky is round.' We are touring it from April.
‘There’s a Rabbit in the Moon’ is a show from your repertory – what's it like revisiting it?
I love to swap from one show to another one. We’ve been touring some of our shows for 13 years. Each time is a new adventure and there’s a lot of pleasure in coming back to a show that I’ve played for many years. It’s mainly because you are very alert and conscious of all its different levels. An old show is like a stone you have in your pocket. It’s a delicious thing you get to know well without even having to look at it.