Sunday, 16 October 2011

Gaël le Cornec

Gaël is a Brazilian actress, writer and director based in London, UK.  She has her own theatre company, Footprint Project, that received last year's Young People’s Award for Innovation from IdeasTap and an Artistic Excellence Award at Brighton Festival.  She is currently working on a new play called The Boy Who Caught The Tide at CASA Latin American Theatre Festival which opens this Monday Oct 17 through Sun Oct 23rd.

For the rest of the CASA festival program that includes works from the Brazil, Chile, Venezuela and Argentina, please check out

More on Gaël:

Gaël le Cornec
October 14, 2011
London, 9:30 am

What are you working on at the moment?

I am this year’s guest artist at CASA Latin American Theatre Festival, where I am directing a short play from Brazil, by an author called Ruy Jobim Neto.  It’s the first time the play is being shown outside of Brazil.  I’m working with Latin American actors and a Portuguese actress, and yeah, i’m having fun!   We don’t have that many days of rehearsal, so I still don’t know what’s going to happen, when the audience walks in and experiences the play.  But its exciting to be directing, because you might have an idea for something in the beginning  but then when you work with creative people, the idea gets transformed and it becomes something else, it becomes a collective.  There’s another transformation when the audience walks in, because they might perceive it in a different way then you did.  I love that process, not to know what’s going to happen.  I am also touring with a play, with a Cambridge based theatre company, as an actress - The CV of  Aurora Ortiz, a play adapted from a Spanish novel by Almudena Solana.

What is your directing style?

That’s a question for my actors to answer!  When I am working with text, I always look for elements that I can take out of the text and put in the world of the play, outside.  For example in the text, they are mentioning a party, St. Antonio, which in Brazil, is the name of a saint for marriage.   We had the idea to make a St. Antonio party when the audience walks in.  I guess this comes from my devising experience in theatre.  I am always interested in what the other creative people involved bring to the project, that is very important to me.  I also like audience participation and immersive theatre.  It’s important to take the audience, to the world of the play, to the imaginary.  What I tend to do with actors, is to open them up emotionally, so I do a series of exercises that make them connect to each other.  Connection is the key when you are on stage with another actor.  So many times I go to the theatre and I see actors just saying their lines without connecting.  I also work with quite a lot of physical elements with my actors.

Who or what inspires you?

I am very inspired by spaces, the environment around me.  To be open and have the sensitivity to observe the space and to observe people and see what they have to offer\, is what really inspires me.  I’m quite open to be inspired by an incredible artist, someone I talked to or an old lady I crossed on the street on my way to rehearsal.  And I’ll say wow, the way she walks, thats it!  That’s what I need to add to the character in my play! It’ s important to be open, to be inspired. 

From your experiences what have been the differences of working in the Brazilian theatre vs the British theatre?

I have more experience with British theatre.  British theatre is very text based and Brazilian theatre is very much about devising and very open to any possibility.   Multi media, multi languages, when I talk about languages, I mean different theatrical forms.  It’s quite common in Brazil to have audience participation and site-specific work.  And I guess I add that to my work as well.  This has been happening in England quite recently, I think.   A very big difference is how the audience reacts.  In Brazil, the audience always gets involved, it can be positive but negative as well.  Sometimes people take audience participation very seriously, sometimes too much!  And here, they will participate out of respect for the work, they will always clap at the end.  In Brazil, if it was bad they wont. 

What are your biggest theatrical challenges?

It’s always a challenge when you get a text, as an actor, as a director, to make something worth watching out of it.  I respect audiences highly.  Theatre does not exist without an audience.  But I’m not interested in pleasing the audience either.  I always want to give an experience, whichever experience that is.  When you get any sort of text, either complicated or simple, never underestimate the product you have in your hands, because you might get some surprises.  If you think something is easy, it might be more difficult than you think or vice versa if it’s a very complicated play, then just make it simple and then it works.   I always think it’s a challenge, because it’s new work, new people working with you, and it will go to different paths.

Dream projects?

Dream project would be to make a really massive theatrical experience…that would take days!  The audience would come and spend days in the space, it would be site specific, and somewhere isolated.  The idea of traveling to the event, and when they arrive everything is different from what they’ve seen, and magical, and take them into this journey, where audiences and actors blend.  With 100’s of actors.   A big, big thing.   I am also really interested in opera.  I want to direct opera in the future, in a big theatre.

Final question.  Is the director dead?

I just mentioned that to a friend a few months ago, you know, I’m proclaiming the death of the director! I said to him… I think he laughed… being a director himself.  I think sometimes it depends on the project.  But the less you see the director, the less you see what they have done, the better it is.  I hate going to see a play and see the blocking of the actors, I can see the actors doing that because the director told them to do it.  The director, the profession, is quite recent.  Maybe 100 years ago, people who would do theatre, would do everything.  They would be actors, writers, directors, and nowadays we kind of separate the roles.  So yeah, the director could be dead.  I wouldn’t mind. 

Thanks Gaël for sharing your thoughts!

“I regard the theatre as the greatest of all art forms, the most immediate way in which a human being can share with another the sense of what it is to be human.” Oscar Wilde

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