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					Swinging Belleville rendez-vous
William Temple takes a trip to Belleville, while Danny Arter reviews the original animated film

                                                                                                                                                                   I
                                                                                                                                                                        ’m a fresher, I’m new on the drama scene
                                                                                                                                                                        at Warwick University, and I’m in awe. So
                                                                                                                                                                        far I’ve dipped my toe in a bit of Shake-
                                                                                                                                                                        speare, I’ve dabbled in a weekend show or
                                                                                                                                                                   two and my latest challenge, my current raison
                                                                                                                                                                   d’etre is the extraordinary theatrical process of
                                                                                                                                                                   devising. For those normal people out there
                                                                                                                                                                   ‘devising’ is creating a theatrical show from
                                                                                                                                                                   scratch without the usual basis of a script (to
                                                                                                                                                                   put it simply); a blank canvas you might think,
                                                                                                                                                                   a world of infinite possibility and potential.
                                                                                                                                                                   Well, almost.
                                                                                                                                                                      The devised Codpiece production Belleville
                                                                                                                                                                   Rendez-Vous (to be performed in the Warwick
                                                                                                                                                                   Art Centre studio this week) is based upon
                                                                                                                                                                   the French animated movie by Sylvain Chom-
                                                                                                                                                                   et that goes by the same name. The canvas is
                                                                                                                                                                   not therefore quite as blank as first thought.
                                                                                                                                                                   From my observations as a cast member our
                                                                                                                                                                   job has been to transfer the intricate plot
                                                                                                                                                                   from the medium of cartoon and animation
                                                                                                                                                                   to that of the stage. In order to do this we’ve
                                                                                                                                                                   divided the film into chunks or chapters and
                                                                                                                                                                   in each case extracted the ‘essence’ or ‘artistic
                                                                                                                                                                   intentions’ from the scene and tried to devise
                                                                                                                                                                   around those, rather than simply imitating the
                                                                                                                                                                   plot exactly. At every rehearsal everyone in the
                                                                                                                                                                   cast is present. Sometimes we work in separate
                                                                                                                                                                   groups, other times we all work together, but
                                                                                                                                                                   at the end of the scene’s rehearsing, everyone
                                                                                                                                                                   has watched, listened and commented on each
                                                                                                                                                                   others ideas in some way.
                                                                                                                                                                      What is fascinating about this theatrical




T
                                                                                                                                                                   process is the reliance one has upon the others
           he Triplets of Belleville, more com-     distorted and contorted into a variety of sil-              beginning of the film, and comes to resem-         and how they enable you to be a creative force.
           monly known in Britain as Belleville     houettes; the Giacommetian cyclists are spin-               ble a Tower of Pisa-style relic. Increasingly      I am a performer, not a writer. I can recite lines
           Rendez-Vous, is a largely wordless       dly and angular in an almost comic way, with                the industrialized oppresses the traditional       or affect an air of sadness but I cannot invent
           animated film by French filmmaker        exaggerated thighs and quadriceps as a result               – Bruno’s irrational hatred of trains stems        a story, not on my own. Devising is a sponta-
Sylvain Chomet. As the film’s dialogue is           of their physical labours. Conversely, there                from a traumatic accident in which his tail was    neous, organic product of the collective com-
scarce, the fantastic visual animation is relied    are numerous overweight characters, whose                   crushed by Champion’s toy-train set. It is a       pany. This is what makes it so powerful. As a
on to recall the story of a parentless young        obesity quite literally renders them spherical.             hate so deep rooted that the canine routinely      cast member of this devised production I have
boy in the care of his grandmother, who buys        The mafia figures, meanwhile, are portrayed                 barks at every passing train, a routine that is    learnt more than ever before about theatre, the
the child a bicycle in the hope that he will be     in a more quadrilateral manner, broad-shoul-                accelerated with the transfer to the more in-      art of story-telling, the crafts of puppetry and
roused out of his obvious melancholy. The           dered and bullish.                                          dustrialized Belleville.                           song, the fact that my body can do the talk-
scheme works, and the boy develops into a               That the film was nominated for two Os-                    The film, released some seven years ago, has    ing instead of my mouth, the infinite variety
fine cyclist, in part due to the dedicated help     cars upon release in 2003 can only be seen as               aged impeccably. The universal theme at the        of sounds that a suitcase can make, and how
and tender encouragement of his grandmoth-          a cutting irony. For Chomet’s picture is not a              centre of the plot concerning the all-consum-      this myriad of brilliant ideas, actions, and con-
er, who acts as his trainer.                        typical Oscar-nominee. It can only be seen as               ing nature of the mechanized age perhaps has       cepts are funneled into one astounding vision.
   Champion, as the boy is known, competes          a scathing Marxist critique of increasing ho-               more relevance today than upon Belleville’s        I am in awe of what we’ve created and feel im-
in the annual Tour de France race, only to be       mogenization, mass-media commodity con-                     release. In an age of increasing digital produc-   mensely proud to be amongst the madness of
kidnapped by broad-shouldered mafia hench-          sumption and the destruction of tradition by                tion in film, most notably with Disney-Pixar’s     Belleville.
men, who use him and two other cyclists in          an increasingly regulated, mechanized way of                monopoly in the animated film department,                                          William Temple
a bizarre gambling scheme. He is abducted           life. The city of Belleville is a corrupt capitalist        Belleville Rendezvous is a beautiful, refreshing
and escorted to fictional Belleville, closely       society obsessed with consumption, evident                  piece of cinematography, impeccably crafted
followed by his loving grandmother and loyal        in the brazen ‘Hollyfood’ sign. Despite such                with sporadic bouts of macabre humour. Bel-
dog Bruno. The duo are aided in their endeav-       an explicit slander of red-carpet culture, the              leville is the oppressed underdog, the bicycle
our by the Triplets of Belleville, a trio of aged   film was nominated for Best Animated Fea-                   to Disney’s train; yet the film’s simple, under-
cabaret singers who give their collective name      ture and Best Original Song at Hollywood’s                  stated brilliance reveals that it is the modern
to the original French release of the film.         annual award ceremony.                                      digital age that isn’t necessarily on the right
   The plot is a mere subtext to the beauti-            The grandmother’s house - once a tall, pic-             track.
ful, if bizarre, animation – which is aided by      turesque French residence - is disabled by
a wonderful soundtrack. Bodies and faces are        a cripplingly unsightly bridge erected at the                                                 Danny Arter

                                                          Come one, come all.
                                          The talented theatrical elite of Warwick bring you:
                    Week 4                          Come take the stage at the (very) loosely               Keeno Kino - Monday 8th Feb, time TBA -The
 Belleville Rendez-Vous - Codpiece’s surreal        French-themed Freshblood Ca-Beret (see                  student film festival. A new showcase of bur-
 jaunt through France via puppets and cabaret       what they did there) - Tuesday, Kelseys 8pm             geoning celluloid talent at Warwick
 performances.
                                                                          Week 5                                                 Week 6
 Fate -Warwick Chinese Drama Society’s an-          West Side Story - MTW’s toe-tapping musical             Measure for Measure brings darkness, duplic-
 nual performance at Coventry’s Belgrade            shimmies its way into the Arts Centre’s main            ity and desire to the studio
 Theatre – fear not, it has English subtitles!      theatre – tickets selling fast!


theboar.org                                                                                                13

				
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posted:10/18/2012
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