Memory stores at random recollections of people we have known or encountered, loved or hated, the colour of skins, the smells. They are all arranged in the sections of our souvenir album of the dead. They don’t help our fantasies: they are their reference points.
I am not talking about those fantasies, but about others.
Those which only exist in the imagination, those born out of a beautiful book: Prince Andrei Nikolaievich Bolkonsky (War and Peace, Tolstoy); Jean Valjean (Les Misérables, Hugo) ; Julien Sorel, Fabrice Del Dongo (The Red and the Black, The Charterhouse of Parma, Stendhal); Madame Bovary (Flaubert); Cathy (East of Eden, Steinbeck); Cripure (Black Blood, Guilloux); Meursault (The Outsider, Camus), etc.
And the ghosts of the theatre? When I was a child in Avignon, the Mistral allied itself to the actors and the text. A violent wind, magnificent words, actors light as feathers fluttering wildly.
Actors are beautiful when they allow splendid things to be imagined around their aura, which is already unreal.
I teach actors to spread the light of their character sparingly so that, little by little, they can finally be lavish with their solar light.
You don’t interpret a character, you suggest blazing uncertainties, which, at the end of each show, return to a castle in Aberdeen, in the north of Scotland.
They say: ‘ Please, name those illuminated dangers, born from the imagination of the spectator, one July evening in Avignon at the Palais des Papes’. The castle management answers ‘ You will be a ghost of the highest order, baptised in the breath of a burning tornado. Your mission will be to carry, at the stroke of midnight, storms of light, playful and dazzling emotions into lively and daring theatres.’
When the imagination has not enjoyed itself alongside a theatre character, the character has no existence.
What is the key which opens the box of imagining? The pleasure in acting. And the password which closes it once and for all? Reality.
The thoughts of the young rebel Philippe Gaulier’s were based around Le Jeu: the games which nature, animals and humans organise. Games as full of life as breathing or the beating of the heart, which record in our imagination the movements of a life to come. Indeed, later, the games of childhood will lighten the weight of sorrows. They will colour them with an ethereal wash , an elixir which specialists on laughter call ‘humour’.
Philippe Gaulier teaches Le Jeu, the pleasure it engenders and the imaginary world it unveils, bang, bang, just like that.
Actors are always beautiful when you can see, around the characters, their souls at play, opening the door of the imaginary world.
Important note: a character in the theatre only exists if our imagination welcomes him or her into its castle, declares them to be a ghost of honour.
Our souls are full of mad ghosts.
And what should one say about style?
Nature is rich in differences, diversity. The depths of oceans reveal strange movements and structures. A man, or woman, is sometimes haunted by the deep-sea trenches in which particular structures are hidden: this is their style.
‘Why dirty the soul of students by slyly fobbing them off with the style of others, imprisoning them in alien formats? It is more generous to give them the taste of freedom.
Freedom is cleansing.
By Philippe Gaulier