Less than five hundred days before the opening of Paris 2024, the Cultural Olympiad intends to change the way people view disability through the prism of fifteen artistic projects that are more exciting than each other.

It is a program that aims to inspiring ” as its name suggests. Wishing, as part of theCultural Olympiad, highlight projects that contribute, according to Rima Abdul Malak, to a more inclusive society », the Ministry of Culture, in partnership with the Organising Committee for the Paris 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games (COJO), called upon the creative world for new artistic proposals with the aim – but also as a subject – of disability.

With fifteen artistic proposals selected from across the country (see box), the results of the call for projects, which were unveiled on April 18, promises, it is hardly said, to be up to the challenges of the program. The projects, each more exciting than the other, compete in creativity and inventiveness to make disability what it has become: a major challenge of today’s creation.

Among these proposals, two of them caught our attention: Far from the sea, written and directed by Lise Guez with the Compagnie de l'Oiseau-Mouche and _p/ rc___choreography by Éric Minh Cuong Castaing with the shonen company. " The Cultural Olympiad label is a recognition of the nature of our project, which is, it must be understood, an artistic project. It simply has this peculiarity that it makes visible a community that remains, most of the time, cleanly invisible,” stresses Léonor Baudoin, director of the Compagnie de l’Oiseau-Mouche, who is delighted with the “ visibility » that the Cultural Olympiad label will bring on « the whole territory » to the show.

Shonen, the company of Éric Minh Cuong Castaing, has the same tone. “ This label is a great form of recognition for the work of the company, for the handicap and for the dancesaid Claire Crova, Director of Production & Development at Shonen. It represents for us a great opportunity to expand the practice of specific dance, to extend it beyond art, in the field of sport, performance and culture. It will allow _p/ rc___ to travel and create a constellation, between dance and disability, over the long term ».

«Far from the sea»: an initiatory journey that concerns us all


A collective of twenty permanent professional actors who form a collective of artists renewed for more than forty years – the Compagnie de l'Oiseau-Mouche, based in Roubaix, this is well in the air of our time, where the theatrical creation puts forward the stage writing and makes way, increasingly, for the creativity of the actor himself. But when these twenty people find themselves in a situation of mental or mental disability, we can only imagine the exciting moments they can reserve for their audience. « It is a matter of working for a true diversity of the stage, which is not only social or cultural, but also that of artists with disabilities (who are also quite numerous) », says Léonor Baudoin, director of the Compagnie de l'Oiseau-Mouche.

It is also a powerful experience for the directors who come to animate their research. Because these artists of the Compagnie de l'Oiseau-Mouche have fruitful meetings with other artists. This is how Lisa Guez (2019 award festival Impatience for The Women of Bluebeard), already endowed with a solid experience of works in psychiatric hospital, met the company.

To summon in each of us the most painful trials but also the forces we have to overcome them

« I had the chanceexplains Lisa Guez, to be able to work with the actors of the Oiseau-Mouche in 2020 during a five-day workshop around the tale The Little Mermaid of Andersen. Together we sought what touched us in this text: the desire to be different, the uprooting, the feeling of not being understood by the other, the sacrifices we make for love... Then we wrote scenes in improvisation. The Little Mermaid is a tale full of wonders and cruelties. It makes it possible to summon in each of us the most painful trials but also the forces we have to overcome them ».

There is no doubt that the commitment of artists with disabilities has proven to be subtle, discrete and capable of generating emotion. “ The painful experience student, says Lisa Guez. We too have been led to sublimate things that could have annihilated us and have been able to draw strength from trials. Especially thanks to the theatre. A tale allows through symbols to tell an initiatory journey that can concern us all. »

The play will be premiered in June 2023, will tour in the Hauts-de-France region, will be at Le Havre and is expected at the Théâtre de la Ville in Paris in May 2024.

“_p/ rc___ ”: fragility reveals another form of virtuosity


 ' This _p/ rc___, is a kind of aesthetic vision where all bodies can mingle, expose and exist in forms of relationships that we believe are impossible when they are not. Eric Minh Cuong Castaing, choreographer and director of the Shonen Company, based in Marseille. And indeed, in this amazing show, and, to tell the truth, still unique in its kind, all the bodies are allowed to dance, including the robots that extend them, and even the telepaths! A dozen machines are there, on the stage. They are driven remotely by teenagers, as so many extensions of their bodies prevented, some of which can only move fingers.

These avatars allow them to bring a physical presence of substitution to a dozen children who, if they are on the stage, do not walk, for the most part. Their caregivers, and their parents, are also on the set. Objects and accessories to facilitate the mobility of bodies and robots complete this arrangement. As for the audience, he is also there, as close as possible, and we invite him to wander on the stage.

Once this device is installed, the magic happens. “ The search for physical contact between the interpreters and the prevented children leads to concrete situations in which some can become prostheses for others while being in return questioned, influenced, displaced. From there, we imagine games and worn like for example become a living slide », explains Eric Minh Cuong Castaing, in the Magazine du Châtelet, stressing that ' one of the challenges of the piece is to de-qualify the movement, so that it no longer appears a priori as disabled, profane or virtuoso ».

Our ambition? Increase a child’s gesture

The show creates a space for dance relationships ” with all that can happen to heaviness and fragility. “ The children we work with seem insubordinate to the representation, he continues. Even when they play and perform, their bodies escape. I defend the idea that fragility brings out another form of virtuosity, that relationship is virtuosity in itself. It is then up to the group to welcome the uncontrolled movement.

It remains to ensure that the child is nourished by its own stakes, including that of pleasure ". " To increase the gesture of a child is to create a complex relationship with him: to remain attentive to the movement whatever it is, without falling into any servitude of any kind, neither at home nor at homeThe essential thing is that the bodies are taking more and more space and that the new movements of the bodies take the form of dances.

The calendar of the _p/ rc___ is « still under construction », according to Claire Crova. The show, which was premiered in Paris in September 2022, will be repeated next year in Paris, in partnership with stage labels in Île-de-France, Marseille and Brittany. « Other cities and cultural partners are positioned to host and co-build such a project ", she adds..

The 15 “Inspiration, Creation and Disability” winners aim to change the way people think about disability

-       Dream builders ATHOMiques – Compagnie Lézards Bleus and the ATHOM Association (Antoine Le Menestrel) (Apt)
-       Dedalus – National Centre for Adapted Creation (Madeleine Louarn, Frédéric Vossier) (Morlaix)
-       Dis_contact – Théâtre de la Ville (Saša Asentić) (Paris)
-     Unlikely duos – Traction Company (Claire Durand-Drouin) (Vicq-sur-Breuilh)
-       Guyan'expo inclusive – Association of Parents and Friends of Hearing Impaired in Guyana (Tristan Vassaux) (Cayenne)
-       History(s) of Paralympism - The Pantheon (Paris)
-       The Cameraman – Lardux Films (Marion Lary, Etienne Eyraud) (Montreuil)
-       The Village of the Deaf – Compagnie Productions du Sillon (Léonore Confino, Catherine Schaub) (Paris)
-       Far into the sea - Compagnie de l'Oiseau-Mouche (Léonor Baudouin, Lisa Guez) (Marcq-en-Barœul)
-       Mr Potato – BaNCALE Company (Karim Randé) (Frouzins)
-       _ p/ rc___ – Shonen Company (Eric Minh Cuong Castaing) (Marseille)
-       Medieval plum  - Tsen Productions (Olivier Martin Salvan) (Rennes)
-       On both my legs – Lumento (Olivier Lambert) (Le Pré Saint-Gervais)
-       TactiJO 2024 – Créanog (Laurent Nogues, Gaëlle Dupré, Hoëlle Corvest, Christian Bessigneul) (Paris)
-       Triptych. Archaeology, photography and parasport explore disability – Institut national de recherches archéologiques et Musée Départemental Arles Antique (Marguerite Bornhauser) (Arles)