Chamonix. The space operetta of 26,000 seats at the Tombées de la nuit

The show Chamonixfrom the street theater company 26,000 coverswill be presented by the festival The Falls of Night at thereindeer opera from December 27 to 31, 2022. This is the first musical of this troupe of troublemakers, long-time accomplices of the Rennes festival. As its name does not indicate, Chamonix takes the form of a “space operetta” to ask a question of the times: should we or should we not eradicate the human species?

The festival The Falls of Night spoils us for the end of year celebrations. From December 27 to 31, 2022, five performances of Chamonixthe company’s last show 26,000 seats, created the previous month. She is a regular at the Rennes festival since she has already presented at least eight shows there, some of them several times, always with the same aim of questioning the theatrical place and the relationship of dramatic art to popular entertainment. This new show is no exception: a parody of a musical, it will be represented at thereindeer opera.

The company 26,000 covers was launched in 1995, at a time when “the question of street theater was quite burning because there was a questioning of the theatrical institution, of the bourgeois inter-self, which is still current“says Philippe Nicoleone of the two founders of the company and director of Chamonix. “From our little window, we can see that theater audiences are not getting any younger, quite the contrary, and are renewing themselves very little. “, he continues. The street theater bias that animates 26,000 seats seeks to shake up the uses and traditional audiences of the theater by bringing the show to the public square, to the markets ( Small Commissions ), sometimes at the very entrance of a theater ( A lot of noise for nothingof Shakespeare).

Faced with what he sees as ” a problem of access to this form of art », Philip Nicole is delighted that his company’s shows attract a younger audience, where teenagers and children do not seem to be bored. Because the 26,000 covers want to talk to everyone, and, in Chamonix again, ” it’s an objective: to manage to interest everyone at their level since there are several levels of story, several stories told, different layers of story which call for different layers of complicity, understanding of the spectators », explains the director.

© Raynaud DeLage

With nine actors and actresses, Chamonix is a choral performance, as these forms of fiction – novels, films, TV series, etc. – are called. –, more and more present today in the cultural landscape, who choose a collective of characters. The list of shows 26,000 seats alternates between this form and smaller forms (such as Jacques and Mylene Where WRZZ… ), in part because the live performance economy does not always allow these shows to run so many protagonists. “They are heavy to carry, expensive, and prohibit us from a lot of places, rooms or organizations that could program us but do not have the means. While it is often small associations that animate the villages, with little means but a lot of passion“, precise Philippe Nicole.

That said, the same Philippe Nicolle admits a predilection, as a director, for the complexity of group work. ” For me, it’s political to work with a lot of people“, he says. Before continuing: As its name suggests, the 26,000 Couverts company has always been drawn towards this large group side, towards the energy of the collective. It has always been our way of life, from the beginning we liked to meet many around large tables. Because unity is strength. And at the same time, we thought that for a spectator, seeing a good group of people on a set manage to function together had a metaphorical side, exemplary of how we can manage to live together without too many clashes, to explain ourselves, to understand and love each other a little“.

chamonix space operetta
© Raynaud DeLage

As for the choice of the musical, it is part of the exploration of the forms of popular entertainment to which the company is working. 26,000 covers since he started. Vero 1st, Queen of England took up the codes of melodrama and fairground theater,1st Championship of France of anything aped sports entertainment, The Grand Ball of 26000 plunged us into the world of itinerant dance halls,Ideal Clubin that of the music-hall, etc. This last show already ended with a musical comedy scene. ” No monument is unattainable. It’s been a long time since we wanted to rub shoulders with the musical. We are all a bit of musicians, there are real ones among us. And then this kitsch side, this sentimentality, we are all more or less nourished by it, in particular by American musical comedy films, Jacques Demy in France, or the last vestiges like Notre Dame de Paris. It’s both laughter and the possibility of tragedy», declares Philippe Nicole.

chamonix space operetta
© Raynaud DeLage

However, in Chamonixthe musical encounters another popular field, that of science fiction, more precisely of space opera, these universes which transpose the clichés of the adventure story to space (star trek,Star Wars,Stargate, etc.). “There’s a kind of belief that science fiction doesn’t work with drama. Maybe it’s not so wrong. In any case, it was interesting to confront this question, because here too there is a part of kitsch, of clichés», Comments Philippe Nicolle. And indeed, we can easily imagine how a parody of a musical can have fun with the space universe, its stories, but also and above all with its staging, music, and costumes. “What I’ve always said to the actors and scriptwriter who work with me [Gabor Rassov, ndlr],is that I wanted it to look like a show made by children who would like to make a story betweenStar Wars,AlienandCosmos 99but without having the means“says the director.

chamonix space operetta
© Raynaud DeLage

Beyond the fun, but through it, Chamonix has the relevant insolence to address very topical subjects such as global warming and humanity’s relationship to the planet, as the synopsis of the show suggests.

“We are in the year 6302, the Cécile, a spacecraft in the shape of a suppository, enters the atmosphere of a small blue planet. On board, eight galactic travelers. They are the very last representatives of the human species. They are unaware that after centuries of wandering in the cosmos, they have just found by chance their home planet, emptied of its humanity thousands of years ago (in the year 2023 exactly) and returned to its wild state. »

chamonix space operetta
© Raynaud DeLage

And Chamonix in all this? “That’s the big question!“Does not answer Philippe Nicolle.

A mystery victim of its success, since the five performances in Rennes are already sold out. Find here the next dates ofChamonix.

chamonix space operetta
Artwork: Mr Choubi


Director: Philippe Nicolle
Writing: Philippe Nicolle and Gabor Rassov
Musical creation: Aymeric Descharrières, Erwan Laurent, Christophe Arnulf and Anthony Dascola
With: Kamel Abdessadok, Christophe Arnulf, Aymeric Descharrières, Olivier Dureuil, Patrick Girot, Erwan Laurent, Clara Marchina, Florence Nicolle, Ingrid Strelkoff
General management and set: Patrick Girot
Stage management: Laurence Rossignol
Sound: Anthony Dascola
Lights: Paul Deschamps

Choreography: Laurent Falguieras
Scenography Construction Accessories: Patrick Girot, Julien Lett, Michel Mugnier, Laurence Rossignol
with the help of Sophie Deck, Marek Guillemeneu and Zazie Passajou
Costumes: Camille Perreau, Sara Sandqvist
Puppet: Carole German
Make-up, hair: Pascal Jéhan
Assistant director: Sarah Douhaire, Lise Le Joncour
Technical direction: Daniel Scalliet

Production: 26,000 covers
Co-productions: Nightfall, Rennes – Dijon Bourgogne Theater National Dramatic Center – Espace des Arts, National Stage Chalon-sur-Saône – Common Points, New National Stage of Cergy-Pontoise / Val d’Oise – Le Parvis, National Stage Tarbes Pyrénées – Les Quinconces and Espal, National Stage, Le Mans – National Dramatic Center of Normandy Rouen – Molière Theater Sète, National Stage Archipelago of Thau – Corbeil-Essonnes Theater / Grand Paris – Dijon Opera – Furies, Châlons- en-Champagne – La Passerelle, National Stage of Gap Southern Alps – Edwige Feuillère Theatre, Children’s Voices Stage, Vesoul – Theaters in Dracénie, Art and Dance Creation Stage, Draguignan.
With the support of the DGCA Ministry of Culture, the DRAC Bourgogne-Franche-Comté, the city of Dijon, the Bourgogne-Franche-Comté Region, the Chartreuse Villeneuve-lez-Avignon National Center for Performing Arts, the Cité de la Voix Vézelay Bourgogne Franche-Comté and the Maison Copeau Pernand-Vergelesses

Chamonix. The space operetta of 26,000 seats at the Tombées de la nuit