A LITTLE BATH
Imagined for very young audiences and the adults accompanying them, Le Petit Bain is a creation based on material which is at once concrete, recognizable for the child – but which can also become an abstraction, a playing field for the imagination: bubble bath.
Working with this fascinating material is a dancer who sculpts the foam to create fragile masses, landscapes and a number of ephemeral characters.
As a director, this work, Le Petit Bain is my first creation for very young audiences (and the adults escorting them). The writing of the work is linked to a form of digression, a daydream based on playful yet aesthetic material: a bubble bath. It is a recognizable, tangible element for the child, but it can also become an abstraction, a playing field for the imagination. It is a fascinating substance which can create volumes, ephemeral spaces for playing, fragile and transformable masses which I then imagine as a playing field for a moving body, a body confronting the foam, even a giant transformable puppet, at the same time both a character and a landscape.
I don’t know if writing a piece for very young audiences is so different from writing one for regular audiences. Each creation is for me an opportunity to find a new relationship between material and dramaturgy, between a human being and animated forms. The rigor of research is the same. For this piece, I decided that I needed to find a more sensitive form of writing, aware that I may be addressing an audience which is coming to the theatre for the very first time. I remember the first performances I attended – I didn’t understand everything but the powerful emotions I experienced still resonate with me today.
I have conceived the work as a sort of dialogue since the child is always accompanied by one or more adults. The one gazing at the other is quite riveting.
I have worked with contemporary writers for several years: Marion Aubert, Pauline Sales, Magali Mougel, Sabine Revillet, Guillaume Poix, Thomas Gornet and Stéphane Jaubertie ... But on this project I realized that the writing needed to be different, that the relationship between words and images would need to be something new.
I imagined a visual piece, without words, working with a certain material and a body in movement. The writing on this piece was intuitive, linked to that material (and to the variables inherent in that material), movements and the space. It is a sort of experiment which I am offering something to spectators, in two stages: the first being the performance itself, and the period after it. I commissioned three different writers (Alexandra Lazarescou, Marie Nimier, and Thomas Gornet), asking each of them to write a story based on the elements in the piece. The texts are published in a little booklet given to the adults on their way out of the performance. Three stories, like three spectators’ points of view, three imaginations bubbling over in their corners, showing us that in the theatre each spectator may not have seen or understood the same thing, that he or she may have told him- or herself a separate story based on his or her own life. And I find that absolutely fascinating. The texts will I hope allow for the creation of a dialogue between the adult and the child, between the words and the memories of the piece, at an age when one tells stories to children after they’ve had their baths.
For this creation, I asked the choreographer Yan Raballand to work with me. We created the project with longing, curiosity, slipping inside the baths of our childhoods while avoiding nostalgia. We believe we were both rigorous and faithful to the sensations we had in order to share them with such young audiences, perhaps in order to create new feelings for them, floating bubbles of memories which they will hang on to, or which may eventually dissipate, while leaving behind – I hope – a color, a light, a movement or a sensation.
The Little Bath - Le Petit Bain -
Running time 30 minutes
World premiere February 2017
Conception and direction Johanny Bert
Artistic collaboration Yan Raballand
Performer Rémy Bénard, Samuel Watts, Manuel Gouffran (alternately)
Artistic assistant Christine Caradec
Lighting design and technical director Gilles Richard
Sound design and engineer Simon Muller
Engineers Bertrand Pallier, Marc De Frusto, Véronique Guidevaux, Jean-Baptiste de Tonquedec
Plastician Judith Dubois
Costumes Pétronille Salomé
Set design Aurélie Thomas
Set construction Fabrice Coudert assisted by Eui-Suk Cho
Booklet commissions Alexandra Lazarescou, Marie Nimier, Thomas Gornet
Photography Jean-Louis Fernandez
Administration, production, touring Mathieu Hilléreau, Les Indépendances
Production: Théâtre de Romette
Partners: Théâtre Nouvelle génération CDN - Lyon, Théâtre Paris Villette – Paris, Graines de spectacles - Clermont Ferrand, La Cour des Trois Coquins - Clermont-Ferrand.
Le Théâtre de Romette is supported by the DRAC Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, by the state Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes and by the city of Clermont-Ferrand. Johanny Bert is an Associated Artist at Bateau Feu - Scène Nationale Dunkerque.