THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Seeing the gorgeous Francoise Calvel, the French theatre artist clad in a Kerala saree, a lady who was sitting near us appreciated her for the stunning look in the traditional Kerala wear. With her typical joie de vivre, she instantly acknowledged the comment. A bundle of energy and enthusiasm, she was at ease in the six yard costume when we sat down for a chat. When we quip she was wearing it for the first time, Calvel said, “no, not for the first time. I have worn this several times before”. And she began to unfurl her five-year long association with the god’s own country.
For the past five years, she has been living at Jawahar Nagar in Kowdiar. She explains the decision that made her shift to another country. “We love Indians who possess the excellent power of thinking. They give value to their traditions. The concept of family here is great. Meanwhile in France, people have forgotten to do such things. There, everything is about money these days,” she said. Kerala, more traditional in its ways, attracted her and beckoned her to settle down.
She specialises in anthropology of theatre, but does not differentiate between the two nations in theatre. “Theatre anthropology is a research methodology carried out by touring the world. And we try to find a link between the varied kinds of theatre practices. “The link she says lies in the emotions and expressions. “Be it Indian theatre or European, human emotions and expressions are the same. The way you smile is the way I do it. Tears are also the same when we are sad,” she says. In dance forms like Koodiyattam, Kuchipudi, Bharatanatyam and Ottamthullal, she says there is ample scope for doing research based on tradition.
Calvel, a theatre comedian makes use of Commedia dell’arte, the form of theatre that uses masks for performances which has its origin in Italy. The crux of making such an effective stage presentation, she says, “there are lots of emotions to be communicated to the audience.” In a recent play that she directed for the children of a nursery school in the city, this faculty has been explored to its best. In the play there were some scenes which were difficult to be performed in a realistic setting, like, a boy coming out of the stomach of a dog and a bull.
Her association with theatre began at the age of seven. By 18, she began to concentrate on professional theatre. Apart from this, she is also a dancer and loves to travel a lot. While engaging in theatre activities and organising workshops for both kids and adults, she, along with her husband Eric D have been running the institution Layam Cultural Events and Training private limited in the city.