A question of sport
This article is from 2007.
Allan Radcliffe talks to Quentin Ogier of 2002 Fringe award-winners Au Cul du Loup about their games-themed show
French performance company ‘Au Cul du Loup’ are impossible to neatly pigeonhole. Their name literally translates as ‘at the ass end of the wolf’ but could more accurately be said to mean ‘far away’ or ‘out there’. The title of their triumphant 2002 Fringe First and Herald Angel award-winning show, Mousson, was created by fusing the words ‘mouvement’ and ‘son’, exemplifying their desire to make use of movement and sound without ever separating the two.
While the company have described their multi-faceted oeuvre as ‘theatre of objects and musical images’, their founding principle was simply to break down barriers between genres. ‘Our first desire was to break rules in theatre, dance, puppetry and visual art,’ says co-founder Quentin Ogier. ‘At first the specification of Au Cul du Loup was to create sound while moving with a sound object, but our work is now open to other experiences.’
Ogier co-founded the company in 1996 with his father Henri and mother Dominique Montain. A family affair from the outset, Au Cul du Loup drew on the artistic skills of its core trio: instrument making (Henri), music composition (Dominique), drama (Quentin) and choreography (all three), later inviting dancers, mime artists, puppeteers and lighting and sound designers to join them for individual projects.
‘The creative process begins with Henri, Dominique and myself brainstorming on a theme,’ explains Ogier. ‘We then start to build sound objects, sound sculptures which, for us, is the equivalent of writing the script for a text-based piece of theatre. Before rehearsals begin we invite a director and actors and a very collective work begins at that point.’
Indeed, the company’s new show Terre d’Arène (whose English title Score evokes both music and sport) was some three years in the making. The original premise behind the piece was to stage ‘sound fights’ in a ring, an idea that gradually developed into a dramatic meditation on the darker aspects of the sporting world.
‘There are two different aspects to sport: as a personal training and as a show; the money, the body obsession and the athletes who are the new media stars,’ says Ogier. ‘Sport can be an amazing way to entertain and exhilarate but it also has many dangerous sides. For instance, nationalism and racism are often crouching just behind and there are often links between sport and drugs and body obsession. We wanted to discuss this dangerous side of sport without moralising or judging, but perhaps with just a tiny bit of irony.’
As well as the usual mix of sound, movement, drama and multimedia, Score also features some great songs, which will be translated into English for their Edinburgh performances. Otherwise, Au Cul du Loup tend to use language very sparsely, preferring to focus on the sounds of the words rather than their meaning. As a consequence, the company’s work appeals across nationalities and age groups, and they have performed successfully to audiences across Europe as well as Mexico and at the Sydney Opera House.
As Ogier outlines, the company reserve a special place in their hearts for Edinburgh and Aurora Nova. ‘We also loved performing in Edinburgh in 2002. The venue at Aurora Nova suits us perfectly. It’s got a real atmosphere, a history, and being in a church will definitely suit Score in particular; people do worship in stadiums don’t they? And sports stars have become like new gods of some sort.’
Score, Assembly Aurora Nova, St Stephen’s Street, 0131 623 3030, 4–27 Aug (not 7, 14), 12.20pm, £12–£13 (£9–£10). Previews 2 & 3 Aug, £5.