The company’s artistic career,
is also and above all that of Didier Balsaux. He is at one with the identity of the company: the desire to go and to meet the audience, to impart a critical though unconventional message, to do well. It is the refusal to do the “pretty, the “consensual” or the “spectacular”, the desire to carry on the profession not to change the world but to think about the world and to arouse if not debate then reflection. For us therefore, artistic identity is a question of tone, a tone which qualifies us as angry without being aggressive; the impression that we should continue to hope for a better world was only to escape despair.
The company’s artistic identity rests on belonging to the street and to traditional puppetry
As for the street, let us retrace history in a few words: 1941, a handcart, off-the-cuff plays and then paid performances at the fair in Liège. An economic and artistic reality which had nothing to do with the “renaissance” of street theatre in 1968, but which took a new dimension with the arrival of Didier and Claire in the company in 1992.
As for traditional puppetry, this is another matter and after having been forgiven for years, the day began to dawn when it became necessary to explain what we claimed to be doing in modern theatre holding antiques in our hands! We will leave to Dario Fo, Platon, Aristote, Horace, Shakespeare, Cervantes, Molière, Voltaire, Goethe, Sand, Bettelheim or Ghelderode the ownership of their so abundant and so laudatory words on traditional puppetry.
Somebody like Dario Fo perfectly explained the gesture of the actor borrowed from Burrattino, the zoomorphism of masks and marionettes, the attachment to popular traditions and the cultural importance which that reveals ...
When Tchantchès spoke it was the archetype of the Liège worker who spoke. As such an archetype, we understand in Liège and in the four corners of France all that we understand of what Arlequin, Guignol, Polichinelle or Punch are telling us. That is the incredibly strong aspect of this type of character, the man of the people who talks to us in a language with which we can identify.
As puppeteers, we can decide to make him speak the language of a century and a half ago or that of today. For our part, we consider that Tchantchès, and Tchantchès in the street if possible, is always one of the characters best placed to state these days one cannot leave people sleeping outside, that “God” messed up the crusades, that to be familiar with Lord Godefroy is to show that he is a man of the same rank as king, as a minister or as a tramp, that there is a future for city urchins in 2011...
That is the language of our Tchantchès; it is in that way that he is traditional, because he speaks from the roots of time, a living language, frank, simple, intelligent, universal and specific all at the same time, but resolutely modern and rooted in his time and in his culture. Tchantchès was modern in 1900 when he spoke of the mine, and he is contemporary again today, in our hands. He continues to fascinate children who discover that with a puppet we become mother and father and he continues to trouble parents whom he reminds that death accompanies life. It is in this way that he is such a traditional puppet, sculpted to be a figurative image of the human body, a dislocated image however, caricatured, disturbing and symbolic.
If we adapt a legend almost two centuries old such as Meunier, or if we recount the birth of Jesus twenty centuries ago through the “Noël des Gueux”, or the conquest of Jerusalem by a fanatic ten centuries ago, this does not prevent it from being creative, contemporary and a reference to the present, indeed quite to the contrary.