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Violaine Fimbel, Julie Le Corre, Loup Romer

Puppeteer, Magician / Project Manager / Filmmaker, Cinematographer
May-June 2024

Violaine Fimbel, Julie Le Corre, Loup Romer

  • Audiovisual
  • Performing Arts
  • New York

“How to bring decades of cinematic special effects back to the stage, specifically into the field of invisible animation and the creation of autonomous moving creatures.”

After graduating from the French Higher School of Puppetry Arts (ESNAM) in 2014, I founded the company Yôkaï, whose first production, Volatile(s), toured in Finland, Germany, Brazil, Japan, and was shown at the Avignon Festival.

To further develop the instinctive use of magic from my first show, I went on to enroll in the New Magic course taught at the French Center for Circus Arts (CNAC) by Raphael Navarro and Valentine Losseau, of Cie 14:20. Following this experience, I created another show, “Possession,” and the animated exhibition, “Killing Alice,” from 2017 to 2019. This led me to continue to develop spaces that blur audience perceptions in their relationship with the animate and inanimate, and cultivate a feeling that helps bring life or body to the supernatural. 2019 brought with it the creation of an immersive, post-apocalyptic fable, “Gimme Shelter,” which toured Europe. It sparked a wholly original dialogue between puppets and new magic by establishing an alternative relationship with the remote animated object.

This constant interaction between research and performance has helped foster a strong, resolutely multidisciplinary approach, paving the way for us to delve ever deeper into the dramaturgical realms of the unseen and imaginary. In 2020, we launched the Réveil invisible research program to study how to bring decades of cinematic special effects back to the stage, specifically into the field of invisible animation and the creation of autonomous moving creatures. Several members of Yôkaï committed to this program, including Julie Le Corre, who has been co-developing the project since its inception; and Loup Romer, who collaborates closely with us by enriching this research through the vitally valuable lens of their original vernacular of cinema.

A puppeteer, visual artist, and magician, Violaine Fimbel stands at the crossroads of several artistic languages: puppetry, new magic, cinema, and literature. She is the Artistic Director of Yôkaï. In September 2021, the International Puppetry Institute (IIM) awarded her its Prize for Creation and Experimentation.

Julie Le Corre assists in developing innovative, contemporary writing for puppetry in France and abroad.

Loup Romer blends cinema and live performance into works that reveal the rich complexity of the living world and the power of metamorphosis.

The Réveil Invisible project was born from the desire to rediscover the principles pioneered by Méliès and Houdin on the stage and then taken up and developed by the special effects departments in the film industry. The aim is to re-appropriate and adapt these principles for live performance, particularly in the field of animation linked to magic and puppetry.

An initial research/meeting phase was carried out in the United States in September 2022, during which several members of Compagnie Yôkaï met the team of Creature Supervisors from Jim Henson’s Creature Shop in Los Angeles, as well as creature designers, film FX creators and live-action puppeteers based in New York and Los Angeles. These encounters led to the need to set up a second phase in our research, based on both new encounters and a more concrete phase of testing animation principles and prototypes developed from our research, observations, and experiments. This second phase will take place in New York, in partnership with the Mama, which will be hosting a residency.

The United States occupies a privileged place in the landscape of invisible animation in cinema, television and certain Broadway productions. We would like to meet with a wide range of people working in these fields to discuss how the principles developed for the cinema in the field of invisible animation can be brought back to the stage. New York City is home to a large concentration of puppeteers, most of whom have hybrid screen/set profiles. We are very interested in this hybrid approach to animation, which is very rare in France and Europe.

We are also trying to understand how these unique profiles are trained in the United States so that we can plan the transmission part of our research in France and Europe. In this respect, we are very inspired by CalArts in Los Angeles, a training center founded by Walt Disney, which places decompartmentalization and experimentation at the heart of its educational project and trains animation artists in film and live performance. We hope to be able to carry out a research residency there in the near future.

In partnership with

La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club

Fondée en 1961 par la légende du théâtre Ellen Stewart, La MaMa est la seule salle Off-Off-Broadway originale encore en activité. Ellen a établi La MaMa comme un refuge pour les artistes sous-représentés pour expérimenter de nouvelles œuvres, sans les pressions du succès commercial. Aujourd’hui, nous maintenons un environnement de liberté créative non censurée, où les artistes de tous horizons et identités peuvent développer un travail qui repousse les limites de ce qui est possible sur scène.

‍À ce jour, La MaMa a soutenu plus de 5 000 productions, mettant en vedette 150 000 artistes de 70 nations. En 2018, l’American Theatre Wing a décerné à La MaMa le Regional Theatre Tony Award, déclarant: «La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club est un incontournable de la scène théâtrale new-yorkaise. C’est un espace passionnant où les artistes peuvent grandir, créer et repousser les limites, et nous sommes ravis de pouvoir les honorer cette année. La MaMa a également reçu plus de 30 Obie Awards et des dizaines de Drama Desk, Bessie et Villager Awards.

La Madeleine Scène conventionnée – Troyes

La Madeleine est une scène conventionnée d’intérêt national. Sa programmation est pluridisiciplinaire : théâtre, danse, cirque, jeune public, magie nouvelle. Elle a une forte action d’éducation artistique et culturelle à destination du jeune public. Elle est accompagnée par 2 artistes associées en résidence de recherche artistique.

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