British theatre director Tim Crouch is an Englishman in Avignon

British theatre director Tim Crouch is an Englishman in Avignon

Dressed casually in flipflops and a loose white shirt, British theatre director and actor Tim Crouch has a great deal to smile about. He has two plays in the Avignon festival this year, the very first time he’s ever done in France. And the French adaptation of 1 of his plays takes place to be in the “off” fringe competition. Not a undesirable debut.

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For some explanation even he simply cannot fathom, Tim Crouch has never ever set on a demonstrate in France. His function has toured the rest of Europe for years, but listed here in France his work is only staying uncovered now.

He is a single of quite a few anglophones invited to this year’s 77th version of the Avignon Festival which operates right up until 25 July, where by English is the language of honour. Obviously, Crouch is chuffed by all the attention.

“This location is incredible, this cloister in the south of France, with swifts in the sky and bats traveling about our heads. And birds that sit in the two airplane trees on possibly aspect of my perform…and then a full residence of 470 men and women who listened, who appeared to be responsive to the ideas. There was a great deal like, and there was champagne afterwards…that’s as great as it receives,” he advised RFI.

Sitting down to chat on the working day just after the premiere of “An Oak Tree”, Crouch is whole of praise for his husband or wife Natacha Koutchoumov, who was “every thing I could want in an actor for this enjoy. She was open up, susceptible, emotionally available, responsive, complex”.

The function of the viewers

Observing the pair of them alongside one another in the majestic heritage web site known as the Cloître des Célestins, a former religious cloister, you could be fooled into considering they’d worked jointly for years.

The fact is that they only met a number of several hours prior to the efficiency. Natacha experienced not found the script, nor had she learnt any strains. Nor will any of the other actors invited to “perform” the 2nd role beside Crouch. They will explore the textual content at the very same time as the audience.

Thanks to a intelligent use of microphones, headphones and new music, Crouch alternates talking to the audience with speaking through a various channel to the second actor, who follows his direct.

“An Oak Tree” specials with grief and transformation. A father who has lost his kid finds solace in believing that his daughter has taken the type of an oak tree. Crouch performs a hypnotist, whose tale is intricately connected to the tragedy. As the engage in continues, the audience discovers how and why. 

Crouch’s technique might feel quite dangerous but he clearly thrives on this organised chaos. He describes his operate as purposely “incomplete”. It’s not that he’s lazy, he quips, but he’s waiting around for the audience to write the relaxation.

"An Oak Tree" by Tim Crouch (L) with Vitor Roriz during a performance in the Cloître des Célestins, Festival d'Avignon, July 2023.
“An Oak Tree” by Tim Crouch (L) with Vitor Roriz throughout a general performance in the Cloître des Célestins, Pageant d’Avignon, July 2023. © Christophe Raynaud de Lage / Competition d’Avignon

Bring back again the dwell-ness

He is on a mission to deliver back again the “stay-ness” that he feels is missing from modern theatre.

Theatre has become much too polished and in excess of rehearsed, he states. The audience is held at arm’s length and “it feels like watching a little something on a display screen,” Crouch states.

Crouch expended a great component of his early job performing as an actor for other corporations. About 20 decades ago, disappointed with what he described as “a cult standing” bordering actors, he commenced creating to set the emphasis on the general public, who he says want to be empowered.

His initial piece “My Arm”, about a youthful person who insists on leaving his arm in the air as a kind of vacant protest, has been adapted into French (“Mon Bras“) by Théophile Sclavis and is portion of the “Off” fringe festival this 12 months.

It is maybe fitting that Shakespeare, a vital reference in English theatre, and theatre in general, has delight of place in Avignon as very well as a exclusive spot in Crouch’s coronary heart.

In excess of the several years, the Englishman has drawn inspiration from the Bard, by taking insignificant figures and making a tale all-around them, as a result exploring the basic works in a totally new mild. 


"Truth's a dog Must to Kennel", written and performed by British playwright Tim Crouch. Festival d'Avignon, July 2023.
“Truth’s a doggy Will have to to Kennel”, composed and done by British playwright Tim Crouch. Festival d’Avignon, July 2023. © Stuart Armitt


Crouch’s next piece in the festival “Truth’s a Doggy Have to to Kennel”, is motivated by the character of the Idiot in Shakespeare’s “King Lear”. It premiered at the Edinburgh fringe pageant in 2022.

“Shakespeare retains an important sway above how we think about theatre how we imagine about ourselves as human beings. He variety of invented the human, in that it was the first time that the concept of character or identification was separated from the concept of the deities or a spiritual composition,” Crouch claims.

Alone on the stage, wearing a digital reality headset, Crouch issues the various methods phrases can resonate with the viewers, and the electricity of illustration. What has theatre grow to be due to the fact the Covid pandemic and overdigitalisation? Is there home for are living effectiveness in our world?

Many thanks to Avignon, Crouch can go on to request these thoughts, and potentially discover some responses.