In August 2017, Liliane Bonvallet, who was 102 years old at the time, contacted the circus artist Sébastien Le Guen through an intermediary and made an unusual offer: a bequest of a few objects from her late husband, the clown Punch, who practiced at the Medrano circus in the 1950s. The only condition? The mysterious injunction to "do something with them".
Defining himself as a researcher-artist for this project, Sébastien Le Guen spent more than a year investigating, collecting, piecing together information, and hearing it all echo against his own story as he followed the trail left by the Bonvallet family. The final work is a diverse array of audio clips, physical movements, circus techniques, historical objects, drawings, and texts (press clippings, programs, letters...), all interwoven with a fictional thread.
L'Enquête [The Investigation] is a documentary, a narrative, a staging of a process, a composite act of writing, and an attempt to combine physical theater with a theater of objects.
Concept and performance Sébastien Le Guen
Staging Nicolas Heredia
Contribution Guy Périlhou
Sound design Jérôme Hoffmann
Light design Marie Robert
Administration Hélène Garcia
Scenography / constructions Lonely Circus and Delphine Jalabert
Coproductions and residencies EPCC Théâtre for Bourg-en-Bresse, national theater specializing in the theater of objects / L’Archipel national theater for Perpignan / Résurgence live arts program in Lodévois and Larzac / Archaos national circus center in Marseille with the Théâtre Massalia national theater for children and young audiences
Coproduction Théâtre Molière Sète national theater for Thau
Support and residencies Théâtre d’O / Théâtre Na Loba in Pennautier / City of Balaruc-les-Bains
Partenaires SACD, Processus Cirque grant in 2018
Institutional support Departmental Council of the Herault, Regional Council for Occitanie, Ministry of Culture, DRAC arts agency in Occitanie
"In L’Enquête, Sébastien Le Guen – founder of the Lonely Circus company, whose Fall Fell Fallen we have all seen – explores the fate of Punch, who exercised his talents as a white clown with his partner Pedro in the 1950s. This story is told in its own unique way and is a hybrid performance that mixes objects, relics, and gestures... Not to be missed as it tours in the framework of the Scène en Hérault program…"
– Midi Libre
Founded in 1999 around the work of the highwire artist and circus author Sébastien Le Guen, Lonely Circus has always been committed to exploring the relationship between circus and theater through creations for both traditional and public spaces. The company calls upon a different artistic partner for each creation, with the most recent collaborations being with Nicolas Heredia and Blaï Mateu Trias.
As highwire work is at the heart of these shows, Lonely Circus also carries out research and employs circus equipment innovations. In 2008, the composer and electro-acoustic musician Jérôme Hoffmann joined the company for the project Fall Fell Fallen in 2012, where the two artists try to identify the sound of the circus or how circus can be found in live music.
In 2013, the show Dans les Bois was created with Jérôme Hoffmann and the Slavic double bass player Dgiz after a commission from the Avignon Festival and the SACD agency. In 2014, Lonely Circus and the Garniouze Inc company responded to a commission from La Verrerie national circus center for a portable circus and created Le Rapport Berthier. The company's last collective piece, Masse critique in 2017, was a creative exploration of stone.