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Before de Z’Arts Up in Mont-Liébaut : a successful Anglo-French moment shared between artists and the community

mardi 20 mai 2014, par Mathilde Vautier.

Toutes les versions de cet article : [English] [français]

A whole community area transformed into a place with an Anglo-French touch, with artists from France and the UK performing here and there...Culture Commune successfully did it !

Friday 16th May 2014, in the Mont-Liébaut area in Béthune, more than 2000 people attended the « Before de Z’Arts Up ! » event which kicked off the Z’Art Up ! festival, with a programme involving a dozen UK and French companies...and much more !

The red-white-blue coloured props (or blue-white-red, depending on which side of the Channel you are !) set the scene for the festival-goer : painted by the local schools in the Mont-Liébaut area, they were made by Bui Bolg company, famous for their XXL-size arts installations, and local visual artist Didier Majewski led the painting workshops.

Two local schools, Charlemagne and Victor Hugo primary schools, took the oppportunity to work on famous British icons or symbols, from the past and nowadays, to decorate their buildings...

In perfect line with the theme of the event : Time for Tea from company Wet Picnic, in which three ’tea ladies’ show the audience what the ideal ’tea and cake’ time is...or not !

Straight after school, The Alchemist, from company Frolicked takes place in Charlemagne Primary. Poor alchemist ! He seems to struggle, both to find the way to create gold...and the way to keep these pupils still !

It is a little bit quiter at Victor Hugo Primary school, as the Travel Merchant (Marchand de voyage) from company la Chose Publique is rather intriguing…

…just like these ’oh so British’ four nutcases, from Natural Theatre Company, with their bright pink suitcases, who look slightly lost despite the helpful hords of kids !
Later, the Coneheads will be seen walking about in the area, area which is allegedly ’secured’ by some wierd "British bobbies", deeply in love with one another (Kissing Coppers) !

From pink blue Mobylettes ! This is how the singers-performers from French company On Off are travelling around the area, to deliver their songs to whoever book them.

For the occasion, they have involved three UK-based singers, including Bristol-based Laura, who explains when a 12 year-old girl ’booked’ her to sing Summertime to her parents. After going up the dodgy stairs of the tall tower block and entering a modest flat, the singer ’delivers’ the ’sunny’ song to a grinning mother-father-and-daughter trio...An emotional moment she will definitely take home with her.

Indeed : the Anglo-French artistic adventure in the Mont-Liébaut area is also about human connections. Local voluntary groups actively cooked hundreds of scones and British-type sweet delicacies, served by the group members wearing bowler hats. They also organised the ’Concours of the Soupe’ (in Frenglish in the text !), a competition of the best-tasting soup, judged by a panel of ’experts’ (including Culture Commune Director Chantal Lamarre, and Wet Picnic artistic director Matt Feerick, also co-artistic director of the event !).

UK companies set the street in motion

Soothing swinging movements of the The Wheel House from Acrojou ...The company also presented Frantic , their new show (world premiere in Mont-Liébaut !), the story of a busy man, prisoner of his life, eager to escape, and whose journey will change the course of his life.

Captive the four dancers from Motionhouse, fighting for their freedom.

Bad Taste Cru prefers looking at the difference between people, and the relationship to Other. The four break-dancers sometimes size each other up, or have a fight, sometimes feel each other, or protect one another...

Movement is also at the heart of Bouchée à la Reine, the street theatre show created by Push Plus, a brand new French company formed by Performing arts students from the Université d’Artois. Due to a failing performer, the company did not perform on the Friday in Mont-Liébaut, but managed to perform 4 times in Béthune over the weekend, thanks to a last-minute replacement. Matt Feerick, their artistic director, is relieved...

A show full of humour and energy, in which our four students, all dressed-up for their posh dinner, turn into proper pigs (well, literally !), stuffing themselves with whatever food they can find...lovely !

The two artists from Cirque Albatros, however, are in total opposition with the idea of abundance and overconsumption. With juggling, objects handling and music, their show Louche/Pas Louche deals with the beggers’ struggle for life, with dark humour despite the seriousness of the topic.

Unlike its name shows, Five Foot Fingers is a French company. To end the Before event, the five artists present an amazing explosive cabaret show, using Shakespeare’s language (approximately), magic (or something similar), Chinese mat and slack rope acrobatics (remarkably), and a whole range of incredibly funny tricks and jokes...A great way to finish a great day, full of artistic inspiration and human interactions.

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