Healing Laughter


In 2005, Johanna Ehlert and Loïc Apard were in Israel and Gaza touring with “Clowns Without Borders” with the aim of bringing laughter to children living in areas of conflict. Their experiences on that journey contributed to the development of the show they will be performing this week at the Cameri, “Court-Miracles”: a play without words for 4 actors, 4 puppets and 5 rats.

Compagnie Le Boustrophédon is directed by Christian Coumin and includes Ruth Steinthal and Matthieu Siefridt, in addition to Ehlert and Apard. Mixing a variety of techniques in their work: acrobatics, juggling and puppetry; they have created a circus show about war. Taking place in a refugee camp, yet not relating to a specific conflict, time or place: “all wars are a little bit similar,” according to the troupe. They would like to find laughter in the direst of circumstances, and in the shared laughter, hope for the future.

Their creative process is intense, trying out ideas and techniques over a long period of time, in this case, over two years. Although improvisation plays a major role in creating a piece, once onstage the performance is very precisely timed and choreographed. Ehlert explains, “There are many situations where we don’t see anything and we can’t talk to one another. The timing is tight; we have to be aware of what the others are doing. The rats have the right to improvise – which we don’t.”

The rats, bought and trained in Israel, are intended to convey the “chaotic feeling [of war when] rules of daily life get lost – rats taking over.” The puppets enable the actors to establish some distance from the cruelty of war and portray the situation without evoking the kind of horror that performing the same actions with human actors would arouse. After Tel Aviv, the show will tour Ramallah and the West Bank. As Steinthal says, “We try to share the same things at the same moment with both sides. Not to be too critical. To open a little bit some minds, some ideas.”

Image credit: Raphael Kann
A performance for the whole family, recommended for children above the age of 8.
June 18 – 21
Cameri Theatre
Duration: 70 minutes
Tickets: www.cameri.co.il