TSB Arena, Queens Wharf, Wellington

12/03/2020 - 15/03/2020

New Zealand Festival of the Arts 2020

Production Details

Creative Director Marnie Karmelita

Focus Company and the Chaliwaté Company

A charming blend of fact and fiction with a vintage aesthetic and very current message  

Between dreamlike fiction and factual reality, Dimanche paints a witty and tender portrait of humanity surprised by the uncontrollable forces of nature.

A family is about to spend their Sunday together, a family tradition. But the walls are shaking, strong winds and torrential rain rage outside and the storm has only just begun. Amidst this climatic chaos, the protagonists absurdly attempt to maintain a normal family life.

Dimanche observes the ingenuity and stubbornness of humans as they try to preserve their day-to-day habits, going to absurd extremes to keep up a sense of normalcy despite the chaos of an ecological collapse.

Creative Director Marnie Karmelita:
“This lovely witty work packs a punch with a profound message about climate change. With a very similar and contemporary take on visual theatre using mime, video and puppetry, these two exciting Belgian companies have come together to create a style that draws you in instantly.”

TSB Arena
Thu 12 – Fri 13 Mar 2020: 7pm
Sat 14 – Sun 15 Mar 2020: 5pm
$63 – $69 (excluding booking fees).
Visit www.festival.co.nz

Focus Company:

Julie Tenret studied and trained at l’INSAS (Brussels Drama Institute). She took part in Squattages poétiques by the Company Gare centrale, and created Fragile with Isabelle Darras in 2009, a show with actors, objects and puppets, directed for the stage by Agnès Limbos. Fragile received an award for its sensitivity, its force and commitment at the Rencontres de Théâtre Jeune Public of Huy in 2009. The show has been performed 350 times.

She founded in 2011, together with Isabelle Darras, the Night Shop Théâtre Company and creates the show Silence in August 2013. Silence is awarded the Prix de la Ministre de la jeunesse and the Coup de foudre de la presse at the Rencontres de Théâtre Jeune Public of Huy in 2013 ; it is presented at the Théâtre des Doms during the Avignon Festival in 2014 and is awarded the Prix de la Critique Jeune Public in 2015. To this day Silence has been presented 350 times.

Chaliwaté Company:
The artistic work of the Chaliwaté Co. is nourished by many different manners of approaching the mime art to create physical and visual shows. Since they worked on their first show “Joséphina” in 2009, they have continued to expand and enrich their stage writing and creative process, constantly looking for new perspectives, taking part in workshops and collaborating with other artists from different theatrical genres. They create “Îlo” in 2011 and then collaborate with Loïc Faure (Jongloic Company) to create the show “Jetlag” in 2015. They now work in association with the Focus Company (Julie Tenret) to create “Backup” (short form of 25’) and “Dimanche” (long form that will be presented for the first time in November 2019).

For Dimanche Focus Company and the Chaliwaté Company come together to write and create a surprising and touching performance.

For a long time they have been following and appreciating each other’s work. It became clear that they had a similar approach to our art and it was obvious that they shared a common taste for unusual theatrical forms. As if they spoke the same visual, artisanal and poetic language.

Performed by: Sicaire Durieux, Sandrine Heyraud and Christine Heyraud

Dramaturgy: Alana Osbourne
Lights by: Guillaume Toussaint Fromentin
Sound by: Brice Cannavo
Sound for Backup by: Loïc le Foll
Scenography by: Zoé Tenret
Stage Set Construction: Zoé Tenret, Bruno Mortaignie (LS Diffusion), Sébastien Boucherit and Sebastien Munck
Puppets created by: Waw ! Studios / Joachim Jannin
Puppet assistant creators: Jean-Raymond Brassinne, Emmanuel Chessa, Aurélie Deloche and Gaëlle Marras
Video by: Tristan Galand
1st AC: Alexandre Cabanne
Key Grip: Hatuey Suarez
Underwater filming: Alexandra Brixy
Video set construction: Zoé Tenret and Sébastien Munck
Costumes: Fanny Boizard
General Stage Management: Léonard Clarys
Stage Management: Leonard Clarys with Isabelle Derr

Commissioned by Adelaide and Auckland Arts Festivals 

Theatre , Puppetry , Physical , Magic/Illusion ,

Both absorbing and entertaining

Review by Sonya Stewart 21st Mar 2020

Dimanche is French for Sunday, and according to the Bible it’s the seventh day that God ended His work which He had done and rested.

Brought to us by Belgian creatives Focus & Chaliwaté’s, there is minimal (and no English) dialogue. Using puppetry, props, physicality and Paul Simon songs, they have created a thoughtful piece on the state of the world and how we are responding to it. 

With climate change creating new normals, intrepid reporters arm themselves with cameras to document and highlight the dangers of what is happening.  All while a family goes about their everyday routine with cooling fans blasting and tables melting. Apparently wilful ignorance is bliss and they must get pretty creative to not acknowledge the truth.  It’s these vignettes that combine to show the power of nature and denial. [More]


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Festival fare extraordinaire

Review by John Smythe 13th Mar 2020

This exquisitely crafted yet sobering work of exhilarating creativity is a co-production of the Focus and Chaliwaté Companies from Belgium, where the three official languages spoken are Dutch, French and German.

Dimanche (from the Old English Sunnandæg: the day of the sun) is the French word for Sunday (Zondag in Dutch; Sonntag in German) – so named because pre-Christian Anglo-Saxons and other Germanic peoples set it aside to worship the sun. Then it became the Lord’s Day; the day of rest.

Nowadays, as the still-worshipped sun plays havoc with our desecrated planet Earth, we still seek leisure and relaxation, often together as a family, on Sundays – hence the title: Dimanche.

In the vast darkness of the TSB Arena, tiny lights glow on stage, as if observed from outer space. Someone is sitting at a flat plane on which tiny pine trees grow. There’s a tiny house on a hill and pin-prick lights denote a vehicle travelling to it. Then the trees are cleared, the mini vehicle trundles through the wilderness – and suddenly three full-sized people are bouncing behind a windscreen, dextrously operating windscreen-wipers, a rear-vision mirror and the steering wheel as ’50 Ways to Leave Your Lover’ plays on the stereo: a wonderfully dramatic transition.

Written and directed by Julie Tenret, Sicaire Durieux and Sandrine Heyra, the meticulously conceived, designed and delivered scenarios that follow are theatrically astonishing, not least because they are performed by just three exponents of physical theatre and puppetry – Sicaire Durieux, Sandrine Heyraud and Christine Heyraud – with stage management support from Leonard Clarys and Isabelle Derr, and the technical operators of Guillaume Toussaint Fromentin’s lighting and Brice Cannavo’s sound designs, within Zoé Tenret’s scenography.

To summarise what happens will not be a spoiler because the magic is in the way the illusions of reality are manifested. Not that the medium is the message; the meticulous production design, performances, puppetry, AV projection, lighting and sound effects are compellingly combined and confidently paced to depict what the forces of nature are up to as people go about their normal lives – or try to.

The trio in the van turn out to be a documentary television crew – cameraman, sound operator, presenter – somewhere in the Arctic, trying to record a piece to camera amid ominous groaning and cracking … Initially comical, their ultimate fate is simultaneously shocking and lyrical.

The Polar Bear that rests on an ice shelf is gorgeous and her tiny, inquisitive and warmly nurtured cub sends a ripple of joy through the auditorium (puppets created by Waw! Studios / Joachim Jannin). But their world is still cracking up, with a heart-rending consequence.

The fluid transition to the living area of a home is an object lesson to all productions that subject their audiences to tedious scene changes. We’re in a hot climate now as a small TV set broadcasts a news item that relates to the Artic story and is clearly tragic – but the man who is vacuuming, surrounded by whirring fans, ignores it. Grandma (a life-sized puppet) is having trouble with her Stairlift chair but manages to get downstairs for an icy footbath and breakfast lovingly brought by her daughter (or daughter-in-law). But more than our hearts start melting … Another superbly-crafted effect.

Also from equatorial climes, a Flamingo tends to her chick – and a helicopter flies above it. It drips a rope ladder to someone needing rescue as a storm brews … The tragi-comic outcome of the Flamingo’s fate is that cyclone delivers the family a fowl for their Sunday roast. But the extreme weather plays havoc with the couple’s attempts to enjoy it with a glass of wine …

Is that the supine side of a naked body now picked out in a shaft light? A dune-buggy putters over it – and again the miniature becomes life-sized as a woman unpacks her aqualung gear and mounts a camera on a tripod. There is no warning of the tsunami (indeed the water in the cove is not sucked out before the massive wave rolls in) but the devastation it brings is dire.

The underwater sequences that follow are astoundingly credible, as if we are watching a wildlife documentary. The behaviour-patterns of sea creatures have obviously been studied and are lovingly recreated as household objects and a human body drift in the deep and slowly sink …

We could swear the kayak a woman is paddling is on a real expanse of water … and the final image says it all.

Because the TSB Arena is a large auditorium there were plenty more seats available on opening night. I urge you to book if you haven’t already. Dimanche is festival fare extraordinaire, unlikely to be seen here in any other context. 


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