An Interview with Bertrand Lesca, Director of Ablutions

Part of this April’s ‘From the Ferment’ is FellSwoop Theatre’s production of Ablutions, based on the novel by Patrick DeWitt. We had an exlcusive chat with the Director, Bertrand Lesca…

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Could you tell us a little about you and work?

I have lived in England for five years and Ablutions is the third piece I have directed as part of FellSwoop Theatre. This is the company that I formed when I was 20 and that I trust working with the most. All of its founding members are such incredible friends and collaborators. There is a real trust and such a joy when we all get to work together. The work is our playground. Somewhere where we are allowed to play for real and test out some of our ideas. It’s very freeing.

You’ve worked as an assistant director to Cheek By Jowl and Peter Brook, what were these experiences like?

Great! I am incredibly lucky to have worked with these two companies. I realise it. It has given me a wider scope on things. On theatre of course – but not only. When you get to tour and travel for so long you really wonder why you get to put yourself through this. You start wondering what theatre actually has to bring to other people. I think this is what both companies have challenged me into thinking.

How did you come to work with FellSwoop?

FellSwoop is a theatre company that was formed at the end of our studies at Warwick University. We always enjoyed working together throughout our time there and so quite naturally decided to pursue the adventure further by forming a theatre company together. We now work in Bristol where most of us are now based.

Ablutions is a dark, bodily, bleak and quite disgusting book, what drew you to it?

These are four amazing arguments to just do it, don’t you think? The dark side of the novel was a very strong factor indeed. It contrasted so much with our previous show, Belleville Rendez-vous. All we wanted was to get our grip on something a little stranger and more intriguing for the audience. We have now been working in theatre for three years. We felt it was time to challenge ourselves and our audience too. Alcoholism is not something you often get to see on stage. I promise you – we haven’t lost our fun though!

What has been the most surprising moment in the process so far?

It’s funny, we always come to a full circle in our working process. We start with an idea and end up with the same one after going through all sorts of different stages. Ben Osborne, the Musical Director, and I always said this piece needed to combine the simplicity of a Japanese haiku and the epic nature of a classic opera. I should hope we are now getting closer and closer to it each day. I am very happy about the last few runs we did of the piece and excited to hear what other people have to say about it.

What should the audience expect from this production?

Burlesque dance, hallucinatory visions of Elvis Presley, mormons and the Grand Canyon. What more? There is more!

Anything else?

Just to say how happy we all are to be performing at Bristol Old Vic and how proud we are to be produced in Bristol first. This city is such an exciting and vibrant place for a theatre company to be in.

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