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When the French Visit Chennai to Joke About Themselves

Les Goulus, a street theatre company from France, portrays the French behaviour in different countries through satire and mockery

Published: 09th March 2016 04:49 AM  |   Last Updated: 09th March 2016 04:49 AM   |  A+A-

They have great cheese, wine, etiquette and the grand Eiffel Tower, but why are they still unsatisfied and grouchy? That’s the most stereotypical view of the French that was true until a few years ago. Meet Les Goulus, a French street theatre company that picked up on this idea and decided to bring to focus the idiocrasy of the French in the name of The Horsemen.

After their performance at Phoenix Market City last weekend, we got in touch with the director Jean Luc Prevost who was one of the horsemen along with  Olivier Rimaud and Julien Blandino. Since 2009, the trio has performed The Horsemen over a 1000 times in 30 different countries winning five international awards as the best street performance. 

“The language is not a problem, there is only one page of text, and we play in English. When we travel to differnt countries we do not hesitate to translate it into their national or regional language.

We did it in Persian in Iran and Russia language in Russia. That’s the first thing we do when we go somewhere — work on a translation. And that’s what we did here — we have translated it into Tamil, Hindi and Marathi (at least a part of the show) and that has been totally fantastic and successful,” says Jean.

The Horsemen was first created in Australia in 2007 during the Swimming World Championship. But we wondered how the idea first struck them. Jean smiles, “We were working on Georges Orwell’s Animal Farm adapting it with only horses. The idea was to draw a parallel between the end of human civilisation and the end of mythological greatness of horses. Then, the idea to caricature the owners of horses, who are a caste apart, and who don’t mix with common people came about. We travel a lot, so we could see how French tourists are always comparing the country they are visiting with France.

The image of a French thinking that France is the centre of the world was really a good inspiration. And what’s funnier than the French making jokes about themselves?” We laughed along.

Jean, now 59, has been acting for the last 35 years.

He started out as a clown and then switched to street plays.

“We chose street theatre because social life, suits, good quality shoes aren’t important there. The street belongs to anyone and everyone,” says Jean adding that they perform in other settings including a Opera House.

After their 10-day tour in India, the trio is heading to Turkey. Being on road all year has its sacrifices too.

“We spend most days away from home. For any serious artist, including ourselves, private life is difficult. We are all fathers but divorced. But to see smiles and beautiful eyes looking at our performance is satisfying. They understand that we enjoy ourselves and we love to share our pleasure with them,” he smiles.

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