The Nature of Forgetting | Preview
Interview with director, actor and mime artist: Guillaume Pigé
By Conor O’Neill
Following a hugely successful run at Edinburgh Fringe 2017, The Nature of Forgetting comes to the MAC, Belfast as part of its international tour. Theatre RE presents a poignant performance about dementia and what is left when memory is gone. Made up of actors, mimes, and musicians – this is a very physical and visual piece of theatre, with an incredible live music score.
Tom is 55 today; as he dresses for his party, tangled threads of disappearing memories spark him into life, unravelling as a tale of friendship, love and guilt. Tom is played by the show’s director Guillaume Pigé, see full interview below.
In a previous interview, you used the description of ‘fusing physical theatre with mime’. Could you elaborate on that?
“It is a quite an obscure description indeed! I don’t remember describing the piece nor the work of Theatre Re like that though.
“As much as possible I try to stay away from using the term ‘physical theatre’ to talk about what we do because I am not quite sure what it means. In essence, it feels like any form of theatre is inherently physical, as long as there is a body on stage. In terms of the work that we are doing, it might be more appropriate to talk about ‘movement theatre’. A type of theatre that relies mainly on movement and actions on stage to communicate.”
How do you think Belfast audiences will react to The Nature of Forgetting?
“This is the great unknown and the most exciting part! We never know how people will react to the work.
“We have already performed the piece in lots of places in the UK but also in South America in Brazil and Peru and it seems that people have been able to connect with the work in a deep and intuitive way. Firstly because, sadly regardless of where you are in the world, we all know someone who is or has been living with a form of dementia. Secondly, because we all have a memory and loosing it seems to be one of our greatest fear.”
When choosing plays/themes how do you choose one piece over another?
“This is going to sound strange but we don’t tend to choose a play or a theme. We start a project up on our feet, we play with objects, we improvise a lot and then little by little we try to understand what is it that we are making. It is a very empirical process in a way. We start by doing and from the doing, we get to the idea, rather than the other way around.”
You’re a trained actor, mime artist, and director. How was that progression and how does one lead to the other?
“I think curiosity is what led my journey so far. I first trained as an actor, then as a mime and then as a director. I think this happened because of the people I met along the way and the type of work that I was really excited by, and therefore excited to make.”
The Nature of Forgetting is about memory. You mentioned previously that you were questioning the notion of ‘eternal’, could you go into more detail on how a mime artist can bring such a notion to life without the use of language?
“To me, mime is about making the portrait of something with something else. It is about creating metaphors on stage. It is a little bit like when a writer does not find the right words to express something, they will use a metaphor to express what they need to communicate. It is the same thing for us, we could not find an answer to the question ‘what is eternal?’, so we made a show about it. We are using movement, light, sounds, music, school desks, drumsticks and a lot of costumes to say what we need to say.”
As far as my research can reveal, this is your first time in Northern Ireland? What do you expect from an audience? And do you think different nationalities react differently, not only in general but ‘mime’ as a specific genre?
“Yes, it is our first time indeed and we could not be more excited! Even though our physical language is clearly rooted in Corporeal Mime, I don’t think that The Nature of Forgetting is a mime show. It is a very physical and visual piece of theatre with an incredible live music score. And I guess that our ambition is for people to come out of the theatre with a smile on their face and a tear in their eye!”
The Nature of Forgetting will run at the MAC, Belfast from 31 May to 03 June ’18. Follow this link for further information and tickets.