Les Commandos Percus bring their show Silence! to Adelaide Fringe 2023

Reading Time: 7 minutes
International street arts company Les Commandos Percu is coming to Australia to present their show Silence! at Adelaide Fringe 2023 next month. We spoke to Audrey Itier, Production Administrator at Les Commandos Percu. Read our interview with her below.
Les Commandos Percu - Silence!
Image: (c) Numéro Six Photography

Les Commandos Percu is an international street arts company that existed since 1994. How was the company founded?

The company was created by Raymond Gabriel based on the observation that the public was going to see concerts in halls less and less. He came up with the idea of going to meet the public where they are, i.e. in the street, and to surprise them with instruments that you won’t find anywhere else because we create them ourselves. This is where our formula “rhythm, movement, fire” comes from. Our aim is clear: to reach out to the audience, to abolish the stage, or rather to integrate the entire space as a space for creation.

 

Your percussions and your pyrotechnic know-how have travelled the world and you’re coming to Adelaide Fringe in Australia this February with your show Silence! Is this your South Australian première? I think you may have been to Perth Festival with your mobile intervention called “Radeaux humains” (Human Rails).

We have indeed performed in Australia before. The first time was in 2006, when we performed Le Concert du Feu “The Fire Concert” at the Sydney Festival, and then in 2013, when we performed Très Méchant(s) “Very Nasty” at the Perth International Arts Festival, with volunteers trained a few days before to participate in the show alongside the company’s musicians. But this will be the first time we have performed ‘Silence!’ in Australia.

 

How long have you been planning to bring this show to Australia?

We started negotiations in July 2021 to participate in the 2022 edition of the festival, which was postponed to 2023 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. After this very long wait, we are now looking forward to being there and meeting the FRINGE Festival audience in Adelaide!

 

The show Silence! is not at all silent. Tell us a little about what audiences can expect from this show?

With the show Silence!, Les Commandos Percu invent a storm of sounds and of fire. Between two notes, between two drum beats, silence releases all its strength. What will happen? What will happen next? Was there a countdown, an explanation given for this darkened horizon? Someone has shouted: “Silence! No matter: time is now suspended, everything stands still. Then a dull roll rises from the depths until it becomes an immense crash, a rain of metal fills the whole space, lightning invades the sky. The murmur of the drums becomes a clamour pulsating with a beat that no one can resist…

Silence!
Image: Silence! – Fes’art Libourne – (c) V.Balège

Between the loud noises of the drums and the fireworks, there is silence. Is the show a sort of meditation?

The title of this show was inspired by a quote by Franck Zappa, which could almost be described as philosophical: “music is silence that is distorted”. It is on this subject that one could meditate at length…

 

According to the Adelaide Fringe website, the show goes for 4 hours. Is this true or will the show be repeated several times during the 4 hours?

The show lasts 45-50 minutes and there will only be one performance each night. We don’t have all the information yet, but I think there will be 2 other shows that will be presented between the time the doors open and the time of our show.

 

What was the inspiration for Silence!?

The idea of the show came from The idea for this show came from several questions: How to transform the energy of chaos into a vital impulse? How to create when everything collapses, when there is nothing left? How to react to constraint with ingenuity?

 

The challenge is not to make Les Commandos Percu the first post-apocalyptic percussion group, but to return to the fundamentals of the company: to observe and recycle the materials and sounds of the world to reinvent a living music, incarnate in a show, made of flesh and sweat.

 

What is your first love? Pyrotechnics or music?

The answer is obvious: music! Making our own instruments has “isolated” us in an imaginary culture, as if we came from a distant land, saving us from having to copy music and cultures that were not our own. Two sticks, a few “tricks” on which we can create sound colours, simple or incredibly complex things, to imagine the framework of a show, to find the pleasure in sharing, to make bodies move, to seek trance: the world of rhythm is immense.

 

The result is our own rhythms and sounds, a whole universe patiently assembled, an infinite number of combinations, pulsations, polyrhythms, but also a story to tell, an intention, a path strewn with pyrotechnic surprises: a real watchmaker’s job!

 

What amuses us most is extending the sounds to transform them into lights and sparks.

Silence!
Image: Silence ! – Fes’art Libourne – (c) V.Balège

 

What has been your journey so far?

The company has been in existence for almost 30 years, and we have created many shows that have taken us all over the world, to all continents.

 

Adelaide’s temperatures can rise into the 40s in the summer, how do you protect yourself from such temperatures when you are surrounded by fire? What are the challenges of putting on such a show in the summer in a country known for bush fires?

We are experiencing the same climatic phenomenon in Europe, where summers are getting hotter and hotter, and the risks are getting higher. But all of our team has a fireworks certificate, and fire safety measures are reinforced.

 

How many people are on stage?

There are only 5 people on stage, but the movements and the shifts may suggest that there are many more! This is also part of the surprise effect.

 

How have you adapted your shows to more environmentally aware audiences and ever-changing technology?

This show aims to draw attention to and make the audience think about environmental issues. It encourages the audience to question the future and to ask themselves: “How can we create when everything is falling apart? What will we do when there is nothing left?

 

Moreover, our shows are 6 to 7 times less polluting than traditional fireworks because we use less active material. We are also careful about recycling the waste that our shows generate and we leave the site as clean as before we arrived!

Image: Silence ! – Fes’art Libourne – (c) V.Balège

What is your creative process?

The creative process is quite long. It all starts with a desire, an intention, in other words, what message do we want to convey through the show. A long period of reflection and musical creation follows, then comes the stage direction and pyrotechnical writing phase. We also have the need to be constantly evolving, which means that the show ‘Silence’ that you see at Adelaide Fringe will not be exactly the same as the one you saw at the Sziget Festival for example. After each performance we spend a lot of time analysing what happened, the comments of the audience or the organisers. Our shows are never static, in the sense that we are always looking for the best possible performance.

 

How long does it take to create a show like Silence!?

The creation of Silence! required several months of work, between the musical composition, the pyrotechnical writing, directing and building décor.

 

Apart from people who don’t like loud noises, is Silence! for all audiences?

Absolutely, this show is for all audiences. Even people who don’t like noise can come to the show, placing themselves at the back of the crowd or wearing adapted hearing protection for example. Some will appreciate the music more, others the pyrotechnics, the sensations provided by the percussion and the fire, or again the staging, but in general feedback from audiences is unanimous in their experience of the show

Silence!
Image: (c) V.Balège

Why should people come see Silence! at Adelaide Fringe?

The energy of the perucssion combined with that of the fire is quite simply fascinating, as if we are touching something essential. Nature’s forces seem to want to express themselves through what we do, as If we were volcanologists holding the audience by the hand to look at the base of the crater. Higher, in the night, stars and coloured forms make us more so astronomers faced with starry canvases. The grinding of the drums, sweaty bodies in the smoke and ask form like a grand wild ritual.

 

Plus, our musical and pyrotechnical know-how is quite unique in the world, and feedback from audiences are our largest reward! People write to us often after our shows to thank us, it’s very powerful…

 

At a large festival in Europe, an audience member came up to us and said the most wonderful compliment: “I think you inspire people. You make them want to invent something, as if everyone had a seed to germinate, as if you were proof that it is possible!”

 

We really want to share an exceptional moment with the audience, a kind of jubilant wildness, elementary and primordial joy!

KEY INFO FOR SILENCE!

WHAT: Silence!
WHERE: 5.30pm Friday 17 February – Sunday 19 February
WHEN: Elder Park, Adelaide
HOW: Buy your tickets through this link: https://adelaidefringe.com.au/fringetix/silence-af2023
HOW MUCH: Ticket prices (excluding booking fees) are as follows:
  • Full Price: $55
  • Concession: $45
  • Child: $35
  • Family: $160
  • Schools: $30
  • Companion Card: Free
For all shows with French and francophone links at the Adelaide Fringe, click here.
For all events with French and francophone links happening around Australia this month, check out the What’s on in January.

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Adelaide Fringe 2023: 23 shows with French and francophone links to see

Reading Time: 10 minutes

Adelaide Fringe 2023 starts in less than 4 weeks! To help you with your planning, we’ve found all the shows with French and francophone links for you. You’ll find artists coming to Adelaide Fringe from France, performers with French circus school training, and shows featuring French songs, or about French people. Read on to find out more.

Adelaide Fringe 2023

SHOWS FROM FRANCE AT ADELAIDE FRINGE 2023

CIRCUS / INTERACTIVE

Adelaide Fringe 2023 - Vertiges
Image: Anne-Laure Chemin

Vertiges by Farid Ayelem Rahmouni

FRENCH LINK: Farid Ayelem Rahmouni is from France and the show is being brought in partnership with the French Government.

A vertigo inducing, audience-led interactive experience from France’s finest aerial performer. Vertiges looks at the injustice of those living in the margins of society and turns the despair into a beautifully moving, world-class aerial performance, directed through an App which is controlled by all members of the audience.

 

MUSIC

Pertubator

FRENCH LINK: From France

The dark and retro-futuristic music of PERTURBATOR returns to Australia in 2023 including a first ever performance in Adelaide! Accompanied with new music and further reinventions, PERTUBATOR have signalled a drastic sonic movement and ushered fans into deeper unchartered territory.

 

Silence!

FRENCH LINK: Les Commandos Percu are from France

Image: Veronique Balege

A spectacle of percussion, pyrotechnics and fireworks, launching Adelaide Fringe 2023.

Les Commandos Percu present a storm of sounds and fire that resonates deep, the silence before the storm. The slow muffled rolling of the drums rises from the depths becoming a deafening noise. A rain of metal fills the air, sheet lightning overwhelms the sky. Time is suspended, all is frozen.

 

Dressed up with metal, musicians move forward amongst a blinding light. Coloured bodies and layered pieces of metal form a moving shape with sharp angles forcing itself upon the audience. Powerful rhythms intersperse with silence creating a tension that will not fade.

 

VISUAL ARTS & DESIGN/ EXHIBITION

Exhibition and sale of Mediaeval manuscripts

FRENCH LINK: Frenchman Dominique Schmidt presents this exhibition and sale

Dominique Schmidt presents a curated selling exhibition of exquisite mediaeval illuminated manuscripts on vellum, including leaves from Books of Hours, Gregorian Chants and Antiphonals, from the 13th century to the 19th century.

 

ALL OTHER SHOWS WITH FRENCH LINKS AT ADELAIDE FRINGE 2023

 

BURLESQUE

La Grande Folie

READ OUR REVIEW OF THE SHOW HERE

Adelaide Fringe 2023
Image: Leslie Liu

FRENCH LINK: The “Let Them Eat Cake” act

Australia’s Queen of Burlesque, Imogen Kelly, presents her most celebrated acts in a single, spectacular show! Interlaced with stories from her life as a world-famous show-pony Imogen proves that YES! Striptease can save the world!

 

Featuring her world-famous “Let Them Eat Cake”; the incredible “Great Barrier Reef” and “Flamingo Go!”- the act that saw Imogen crowned World Queen of Burlesque in Las Vegas.

 

CABARET/MUSIC/MUSICAL THEATRE

A night to baguette

FRENCH LINK: Set in Paris, and with French chansons

A night to BaguetteOccupied Paris, 1941. Cabaret artiste Lulu Ledoux finds herself murdered just before she was to perform The Greatest French Song Ever Written. Refusing to let her death stop the show, Lulu re-enacts her murder from 3 perspectives and discovers her killer’s identity – and all in less than an hour.

 

With real and imagined French chansons and a surprise finish, ‘A Night to Baguette’ is an absurdist cabaret/whodunnit tragi-comedy about passion, performance, collective grief – and bread.

 

Carmen: the cabaret

FRENCH LINK: Inspired by, and about, French opera Carmen

If Carmen is a ‘femme fatale’, why does she end up dying? If Carmen inhabited your soul, how would it feel? Using all the hit tunes from Carmen, award-winning cabaret team Eliane Morel (singer) and Daryl Wallis (accompanist), directed by international opera legend Ghillian Sullivan, comically interrogate the opera’s story and music, and explore how performing Carmen affects those who dare to take on the role…

 

A world premiere at Adelaide Fringe 2023, Carmen the Cabaret will have you laughing, crying, singing along and wondering how you knew all the tunes from an opera you’ve never seen.

 

Chansons : Piaf, Brel & Me – A musical cabaret about France

FRENCH LINK: A cabaret about France

German multi award-winning singer & musical theatre actress Stefanie Rummel brings her musical cabaret to Australia with Chansons, a musical cabaret journey through life. ‘Soul-touching’ stories performed in ‘brilliant showmanship’ about life and passion, from Ne me quitte pas (Brel) to Milord (Piaf). Reflect on life the French way.

 

Spoken in English, and sung in French, English this show makes you travel beyond borders. Accompanied by pianists such as Bogdan Pieleanu, Bob Egan, Tom Schlueter. Chansons inspires our own lives by looking at other cultures.

 

Love on the left bank 

READ OUR INTERVIEW WITH SINGER LOUISE BLACKWELL HERE

FRENCH LINK: A cabaret about French woman Juliette Gréco

Celebrated Adelaide actress and singer Louise Blackwell brings to life the inspiring story of French singer Juliette Gréco. It is a musical celebration of love, life and liberty as it occurred in the Left Bank of Paris at the time of its liberation from Nazi German occupation. Backed by a superb 6-piece band led by musical director Mark Ferguson, Louise performs songs which evoke the joy and revelry of liberation as it occurred in the legendary underground clubs of Saint Germain des Prés, the bohemian district where Juliette found refuge during the war.

 

Philosophers, writers and artists gathered round Juliette as she made her debuts in cabaret nights that presented a myriad of different performers, poets and musical acts, and she is still known as the muse of Saint Germain des Prés.

 

Under the Paris Sky

READ OUR REVIEW OF THE SHOW HERE

FRENCH LINK: A cabaret of French-language songs

A glittering Cabaret of beloved old and new French-language songs, interwoven hilarity with a dash of philosophy. You will be swept away by the beauty of the music; Simon Walters’ fabulous piano and Georgia’s incredible voice and stage presence. Comedic characters, Cecile & Julienne Carotte, provide hilarious highlights along the emotional journey.

 

Come ‘Under the Paris Sky’, beneath the great dome of the Ayer’s House Ballroom with its chandeliers. A magical experience awaits…and you don’t even need to speak French!

 

A night at the musicals 3: Summer Lovin’ Tour 

READ OUR REVIEW OF THEIR PREVIOUS SHOW HERE

FRENCH LINK: Le Gateau Chocolat was raised in Nigeria

‘The French and Saunders of Drag’ Le Gateau Chocolat and Jonny Woo are finally BACK and they’re bringing a brand new show. Dragging you through all of their favourite musicals in a raucous night of ballsy ballads, delightful duets and slaughtered showtune singalong fun.

 

With bigger wigs, crazier costumes, more questionable choreography, and a mountain of laughs, this is one show you’ll be dragging your friends along to see again and again.

 

Bourgeois & Maurice

FRENCH LINK: A French-inspired name

Cult cabaret superstars Bourgeois & Maurice return to Adelaide with a spectacular new show that puts the FUN back into our fundamentally pointless existence!!!

 

Packed with whip-smart original songs, jaw-dropping outfits and hilariously savage wit, ‘Pleasure Seekers’ is a gloriously unhinged yet bizarrely life-affirming homage to hedonism in all its filthy, fabulous glory.

 

CABARET CIRCUS

Club d’Amour

FRENCH LINK: Set in a back-alley French brothel set deep in the red-light district of Paris

Adelaide Fringe 2023Tone & Cheek welcomes you to Club D’amour; a back-alley French brothel set deep in the red-light district of Paris, where guests are treated to a night of fiery fun through a flirtatious fusion of dance, burlesque, circus, and live music.

 

Think Moulin Rouge combined with 50 Shades of Grey and a dash of Rocky Horror, Club D’amour chains together Australia’s sexiest talent and explores a story of forbidden love. The show will deliver jaw locking gags, filthy fun, and debauchery in a hilariously energetic showcase of the world’s oldest profession.

 

Rouge

FRENCH LINK: Poster girl (the one in the red dress), Michaela Burger will sing in French

Image:: Brig Bree Photos

All the spectacle of a circus with a deliciously deviant, adults-only twist – ROUGE is a mind-bending blend of death-defying acrobatics, grandiose cabaret and deeply twisted burlesque. A titillating celebration of astonishing proportions that’s surprising, subversive and supremely sexy.

 

Rouge returns with acts you’ve loved alongside brand-new performances that promise to shock, tease and delight the senses. This is Australian circus cabaret at its climax.

 

COMEDY/INTERACTIVE

Talk dirty, stay classy

READ OUR REVIEW OF THE SHOW HERE

FRENCH LINK: A show dedicated to swearing in French led by Franco-Australian Arnaud Benassy

Have you ever wanted to learn how to say ‘go f**k yourself’ in French?

 

After sold out shows and five-star reviews, Talk Dirty, Stay Classy with the irrepressible Arnaud Benassy is back at a new venue, Club de Petanque d’Adelaide (full bar available)! Join them for a night of laughter as you learn ALL (well, most) of your favourite swear words in French. Shows are loud, rude, and hilariously fun.

 

DANCE

Les fleurs du mal (the flowers of evil) based on the poetry of Baudelaire

FRENCH LINK: Inspired by the poetry of French poet Baudelaire

A confession of hopes, dreams, failures and sins, The Flowers of Evil attempts to extract beauty from the malignant.  One must evoke the artificial and paradoxical aspects of life.  Beauty can evolve on its own, irrespective of nature and fuelled by sin. The ideal transcends over the harsh reality where all senses are united in ecstasy.

 

 

MUSIC

Laissez les bons temps rouler

FRENCH LINK: singer Jean-Marc Spiler is Franco-Australian and the band perform French music

Adelaide based Les Flâneurs Volants will turn the spotlight on the diversity of upbeat styles and rhythms of music from the French speaking world from the iconic French sounds of the 60s to the R&B influenced groove to the Creole beats of far-off lands.

 

 

 

2 violins, 8 strings: Classical Music Gems

FRENCH LINK: Bériot’s ‘Duos Concertante’ will be performed

Adelaide Virtuosi Trio is comprised of musicians from Slovakia. In this performance, there is a focus on Romantic, in the musical meaning (i.e. 19th century music). Expect to see this trio perform Dvořák’s ‘Miniatures’, French extravagant and colourful violin duets as Bériot’s ‘Duos Concertante’, as well as a world-premiere instrumentation of Zeljenka’s ‘Musica Slovaca’, Skoryk’s ‘Melody’ from a famous movie, or Kats-Chernin’s Tango in Aussie style.

 

THEATRE

The White Mouse

READ OUR REVIEW HERE

FRENCH LINK: About Australian French Resistance leader Dame Nancy Wake

In France’s darkest hour in World War II, it was an Australian woman who helped turn the tide against the Germans. This is the story of Dame Nancy Wake, fighter, lover and a force of nature, set during her time as a leader of the French Resistance.  Emily-Jo Davidson returns as Nancy in this re-make of the 2020 Fringe hit that sold out, twice over.

Another brilliant historical expose by Peter Maddern of an extraordinary Australian drawing deep on their reserves of courage and sense of duty to prevail against relentless foes.

 

 

PERFORMERS WITH FRENCH CIRCUS SCHOOL TRAINING

Foible Boible

FRENCH LINK: Oliver Cowen trained at the Ecole Philippe Gaulier

Would a shark look better wearing skinny jeans or cargo shorts? Do french cats say “meow-oui” or “moi-eow”? Would you ask Barney the Dinosaur to help you bury a body? What’s the best way to ‘Yeet, Pray, Love’?

 

Who knows! You’ll find the answers to none of these questions and more in this very serious comedy show of puns, props, sketches, one-liners, funny songs and one extremely foibled boible. We tried to get Dakota Fanning for the show, but she was looking at a horse, so instead we’ve got Oliver; a bread bowl of a man who will probably tell some funny jokes, and maybe even have a theatre-based breakdown.

 

Go Sports

FRENCH LINK: Kyle Walmsley studied at the Ecole Philippe Gaulier

A man.

A treadmill.

An entire unproblematic history of Australian sporting culture.

Sports is COOL! Matty Johns, Israel Folau, Wayne Carey: Heroes. It’s the BEST part about Australia, and there’s nothing problematic about it. This is a marathon of comedy and sports bullying to the stage. There will be blood (fake), sweat (real), and tears (who knows).

 

Mush

FRENCH LINK: Jeromaia Detto studied at the Ecole Philippe Gaulier

Jeromaia Detto presents another journey of absurdity into a collection of wild and wonderful characters and concepts, that will make you laugh, cry, and ponder why?!

 

This show delves into the mushy brain of a man who once believed he could run faster in little athletics by ‘swimming’ through the air. He came last every time.

 

Scotland!

FRENCH LINK: This international theatre troupe, The Latebloomers, formed after studying together at Lecoq.

Scotlaaand! Come along for a wild ride with fishing, hunting, whisky, shortbread, rhythm, folk songs and the spirit of Scotland! A hilarious, award-winning physical comedy.

 

KEY INFO FOR ADELAIDE FRINGE 2023

WHAT: Adelaide Fringe 2023, the second largest Fringe festival in the world!

WHERE: various locations in Adelaide and South Australia

WHEN: 17 February – 19 March

HOW: Purchase your tickets to the events above via the links given or see the whole program at www.adelaidefringe.com.au

HOW MUCH: Ticket prices vary depending on the event

 

Which shows are you going to see at Adelaide Fringe 2023?         

For events with French and Francophone links happening this month, check out our What’s on in January article

 

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