There are some people who have the power to produce an eye-opener impulse in our soul, that makes us laugh as if we first discovered laughter, like when we were children. People who remind us to live in the present, to believe in ourselves and especially, in our imagination. What strength you need to have in order to turn a big crowd into a single body that dances with you, amuses, falls with you, falls in love, dies with you there on the stage. Through his high physical and spiritual stature, Julien has a power of sensibility and love for people, without boundaries. On Google, next to his name, I found titles such as clown, mime, artist, actor and the list can continue. Judging by the reactions of the audience in the room, he is simply, a tamer for animals and fantastic worlds, invisible to the naked eye. For an hour and something, while performing the non-verbal show “Everything is Possible / Carte Blanche” at Sibiu Magic Show, I witnessed, sonorously speaking, the outburst of angry lions, monsters, sounds of spacecraft landing on distant planets, accompanied of course by the noisy and approvingly laughter of the spectators, enticed by Julien’s magical universe. Who is Julien? Julien Cottereau is all I’ve described above plus much more. Former member of the Cirque du Soleil band, for 10 years, he played Eddy- the clown in the world tour of the team. A multifaceted French artist, he was awarded with the prize “Moliere” in 2007 as a sign of recognition from the The Professional and Artistic Arts Association from France. He currently, holds international tours with his own performances. What makes him unique, original is to be found below.
How should I tell you? Comedian, clown, mime artist or just one man show?
Julien Cottereau: I think all of that because I began with the National School in France, in Paris. I have learnt the text of Chekhov, Shakespeare, Tolkien, which are great authors. I was also a drummer when I was 10. I did a lot of bands, you know, like Jazz, Rock, Jazz Rock and Funk. I did experiment a lot. When I was in school, I wanted to doing shows more than going to the courses. Until now, I did three shows with music and acting. It is something with miming, also clowning and taking people from audience because I like to be really close to the people, touch and play with them. I enjoy the freshness they have and I learned a lot because of that. This peak of the their reactions are very precious for me. So, it’s a combination of clown, mime sound effects maker, acting and also music. I try to tell a little story.
What message do you want to send through your little story?
Julien Cottereau: A message, that’s right. It’s about the childhood in ourselves and there’s like a lot of memories related to it, for example when somebody’s reading to you, you know, before you sleep. I think it’s very important for me to building kind of a story because it’s bringing the child back. It’s about love and friends. It’s about craziness and imagination because everything is invisible. It’s in my mind and in the mind of the character.
The symbol of the clown is perceived to be two-faceted. On one side, it represents the happy moments, the laughter of the children, but on the other hand it inspires fear, strange character. How do you cope with this?
Julien Cottereau: I don’t wear makeup. It helps not to to give the figure of the clown and also the figure of something scary. In the last five years, you know, the scary clowns appeared and also Stephen King with some films like Poltergeist. We used something really tender, really nice to not make people frightened. This has to do mainly with the narrative contrast. I tried to escape of that.
What do you think? Has this path chosen you or you have chosen the path by yourself?
Julien Cottereau: I didn’t build my career. I try to listen to others when they said, it was okay. When I was performing, they liked it very much and I continued because it’s an opportunity to gain my life. I followed the pleasure of the people and it helped by giving me the strength I need to continue. People are angels for me. You know, I have something like wishes but I don’t know if it’s going to be. I want to work in certain places like Monte Carlo, New York one day. I’m not scratching reality too much to gain things. I’m just following this beautiful dream. I don’t want to force things. Even when you dream about your body flying, for example, you do a conscious dream. It happens. But when you want to go to a destination in this kind of flying, you know, with conscious mind involved you destroy the dream, you cannot fly anymore because you’re too much in control. You want to do this, see that. The same stuff applies for life. If you force too much, it won’t be natural. I tried to follow a natural path that I discover. I think it’s important. It’s a good question.
How is it different, Julien- the man and Julien-the artist?
Julien Cottereau: The artist and the man are the same but the character is the one to be different. The character doesn’t speak, he’s going directly to what he wants. He’s going to beauty, going to games, to play. There’s no filter. There’s no frontier here, only the frontier of tenderness. Improvisation is life.
Tell me more about the experience at Cirque du Soleil. Do you think it’s relevant for your growth?
Julien Cottereau: The capacity of working comes from the circus because sometimes you can have like two, three shows a day. This means fifteen appearances a day. For me, the body work is first. It has to be very sportive. So that, gave me the strength and the excellence level of all the artists and all the technicians around me. Everybody is really at the top. It really gives you and inspires you to be excellent or at least, to try to be excellent. We did all the shows together. It’s like a family from various different cultures and languages.
How it’s the circus life?
Julien Cottereau: Depends on the circus, depends on the country, depends of the national team of the artist inside the circle. For example, the Russian they can train very hard, they can train their children very hard. Sometimes they’re very respectful also, but they’re pushing, you know. What I saw with children, they’re like going to school in the morning, after that, in the afternoon they have to train and performing for the show in the nights. They were “little adults”. That’s the life that the family built for them. On the other hand, they are very strong. They can speak like four languages because of the circus. There are also positive aspects.
Sunday Times named you “the next Chaplin”. How do you relate to this?
Julien Cottereau: It’s absolutely not true because Chaplin did movies, he was a producer, scenarist and he was playing in the films. I’m not like the next Chaplin at all. I want to do things. It takes a lot of loneliness and focus, I think, to write. I don’t see that so interesting. I try to be connected with the people, with my family, to give the best I can. Being present for the tours, it takes a lot of time. I have to be respectful to it and responsible for what I created. One day, I will go into movies, writing and producing. I produce…..co-produce my shows now. It’s a lot of work and a lot of problems but if at the end of the road you have the rendez-vous with the public, you can go everywhere.
One reason for you to get up every morning is …
Julien Cottereau: Meeting people……I live for that. I want to make them laugh. We cry too much in our life. Laughing on the stage, when you hear the laugh there’s something special. People, they don’t know each other and yet they laugh together. It brings a link between them. It’s more important than we think. We need this thing as spectators, it make us breath.
I’ve seen that you are involving the public from audience in your play. They are becoming actors…..
Julien Cottereau: Like I’ve told you, I’ve learned a lot from them. If I treat the people very well on stage, it’s like I treat everyone of the spectators very well. Living the moment is truly a door to eternity. When you really feel the moment, you don’t think of anything, you run the emotion of the present time, celebrating together a certain aspect of humanity, facilitated by the game, to play that you’re dead, to play that you’re in love, to play that you are a friend, to play that there’s a monster. When we believe together in the game...it’s beautiful, I think.
credit photo: Dragoș Dumitru