A grand wee theatre company called Augustine Turpaux – for those who know me IRL, surely this rings a bell. Considering I’ve been bangin’on about this for about a year since our faithful encounter last summer! (come thhrrrough team Empurany 2016)
Anne-Sophie et Louis, whom I have the pleasure to introduce today as my gorgeous new friends, are the founding members of said company. They researched and polished their project for 7 years before taking it on the roads, literally. Accompanied by a flourish of actors (the expression might not exists. Let’s just say I coined it), they walk the roads of the Drôme county, from smaller cities to tiny villages. Wondering and pondering on the great theme of Fear – not the Irish kind, the intimate and social kind. So how does it work?
Well, get this: during 8 days, each season, the group of more or less ten actors and writers follow an itinerary and roam the streets of the stage-town they arrived in first thing in the morning. They each sit down with the people they encounter at the local marché, café etc… and question them on the theme. This is the raw material and the base of their improv that will be played out the same evening at the next stop. Following this, they start walking, alone or in small groups, listening to the words they harvested in the morning. A truly meditative phase where the surroundings permeates the actors. Some topics floats back to the surface, some puzzling, some echoing. But whatever their own personal point of view is, everyone commits to render truthfully the inhabitants’ words and thoughts in the next stage-town.
Above it all, their method forces everyone to get out of their comfort zone – a real effort to create a protocol that erases the status of “Man/Woman of The Theatre” i.e get down from that pedestal and get back to an equal footing. In fact, upon arrival, there’s no halls booked, no venues, no tickets! Guerilla-style, they advertise once they’re there, inviting passersby, occupying both public and private spaces, depending on the weather. Talking about the weather and getting out of the comfort zone: once their improv is done and dusted, their last mission of the day is to find a place to sleep! Not an easy approach but oh-so-important. The members of Turpaux observe the reactions: the whole thing can be either accepted or refused. And, if all goes well, everyone can further this moment of innovative exchange and create deeper social links.
With this modus operandi, there is absolutely no communication prior to their arrival. The strength of the company is to simply be there, knock on the doors of the political and cultural representatives and see who’s ready to listen. No appointments. “Either you have a few minutes to see us or we’ll be back next season”. They take everyone by surprise and most of the time, it works.
The walking project is reaching completion (for now) this summer. Turpaux will then work for the next year on compiling their harvest, lay it on paper in an effort to create shows and get more serious funding. But what’s the link to byobyoga, huh?
First and foremost, I was super lucky to take parts in Turpaux’s trainings. AnneSo et Louis gave me the wonderful opportunity to teach yoga to the members currently residing in Lyon (we’re claiming back 2 members from Paris actually – take that, self-proclaimed center of french culture!). I discovered and then volunteered at their headquarters, La Friche Artistique Lamartine: a hub of artists, a variety of medias, a great place altogether. Second, the idea is to integrate the practise to the walks, so I’ll be following them towards the end August to “test and learn” and try fit a little morning yoga session with our possible hosts. Needless to say, I’m extremely proud to be part of this project that speaks to me so clearly and dare I say, pretty loudly 😉 If you’ve a french ear or two on ya, you can listen to a great interview they gave last year to great local radio station, Radio Canut.
In other news, we too are moving to “summer hours” as they say in the biz. Concentrating our energy on the yoga classes and optimising the website for the aul Googling, we’re going to slow the production of content and we’ll be posting once a month til September. The Bookclub stays open for the summer and if you’re ever in Lyon, sure come and stretch with us! In the meantime, take good care of yizzerselves.
This post is translated from french, original here.