jean jacques lemêtre : the musical soul of théâtre du soleil

Jean-Jacques Lemêtre has composed the music for all shows of the Théâtre du Soleil since 1979. He has performed with several French symphonic orchestras, engages – partly exclusively – in the music and the instruments of the Middle Ages (Orchestre Médiéval de Paris), works with Pierre Boulez in his Orchestre Inter contemporain. In between he returns to Rock, plays Jazz and Free Jazz, pertaining stylistic elements of European and extra European Folklore, as well as traditional music of the Middle East.

In 1978 he worked for the first time with Ariane Mnouchkine and her Théâtre du Soleil (Mephisto) where he found his artistic focus. The work and success of one of the most important theatres of our time is now unthinkable without him.

He does seminars and workshops on traditional instruments and theatre music throughout the world (Japan, China, Indonesia, India).Several of his pieces of theatre music for the Théâtre du Soleil were awarded with a prize of the “Meilleure Composition Scénique de l’Année”.

In 2005 he was the first to be awarded with the newly founded Prix Molière for Theatre Music.

Recently, Jean Jacques Lemetre conducted a workshop at the The Old House, Kolkata which was organized by  The Alliance Française du Bengale & Culture Monks.

Why do you think Theatre du Solelei is so popular given that it has no speaking parts especially against the Hollywood era of violent big explosion genres?

The “Sun Theater”  [created by Arianne Mnouchkine, in Vincennes, near Paris]  is a popular, but elitist theater, which speaks about everyday life, with both a political and social vocation, trying to be in total respect with the audience : welcoming them, offering them authentic shows, making them dream, giving them some keys, encouraging them to take part in the show, feeding them, in every sense of the word, explaining them, showing them, that is the difference with Hollywood.

What is it about acting (mime) and music that stirs emotions?

Music come from actors and characters, and then it brings a plus to the play and to the text, but it should not touch too much the right chords.

Do you personally have a favorite type of music to play or listen to? You seem proficient in so many.

I love all kind of music, unless they are good, unless they talk to me, learn things to me, give me various pleasures, make me dream and give me some “elsewhere”.

What was your early training in music? Did you come from a musical family? I began music when I learned singing Gregorian Chant, and at the same time when I learned clarinet and bassoon in the music school, and also saxophone by myself, percussion instruments, and later, ancient middle-age instruments, baroque music, and finally plucked and bowed stringed instruments.

I understand that Circus Ethiopia is an outreach program teaching mime and acrobatics to poor children in Addis Abba. Infact that used costumes and equipment is given to that program so that children and their families do not have to beg. Would that work in India?

Every thing that makes possible for a child to have a « child’s real life » must exist and all the government’s should consider this as a priority.

I don’t know if we have to copy  this African system for India, but the idea is magnificent and authorize a direct connection with adults(children’s parents), and make it possible to join the more disadvantaged and poorest persons who live in the most inaccessible places of the world.

(Interview conducted by Abhijit Ganguly and was published on his blog http://kolkatakonnector.blogspot.in)

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