Nothing to Say
Leandre charmed us all in 2013 at the Hackney Empire performing with Slava Polunin and Derevo. In 'Nothing to Say' (Rein à Dire), Leandre pays homage to Chaplin’s Charlot with his ill-fitting clothes and luggage. Inventive and transformative, Leandre takes the audience on a journey of consummate wit and imagination, where umbrellas turn into butterflies and socks can fly, mesmerizing the spectators with magic and laughter and inviting them to be a part of the experience. With little adornment, Leandre has total manipulative control over his body and his facial expressions, communicating an emotion, a cheeky thought or a dream, in an instant. As he likes to describe it: “A house full of vacant spaces, with hopes open to the absurd, visited by imaginary spectators… with ghosts in the wardrobe…” A house full of optimism and enchantment.
LatinoLife: how did you first get into mime?
Leandre: I started out doing magic when I was still a child. So it was a logical path for me to take. I began to realize that Mime was the best way to create magic without the tricks. And so from there, the idea of the clown took shape. It goes on to creating a ‘now’ together with the audiences. The settings are constantly changing, but I am searching for that unique magical moment that is lurking in each and every creative moment that is shared. To make visible that which is invisible, that is the essence of magic, isn’t it?
LL: In silent movies, gestures can be very melodramatic, but your gestures are often minimalist and yet you convey the idea powerfully, how does that happen?
Leandre: Well, it’s a case of developing a language based on gesture, and you know, they say that 70% of our normal communication is non-verbal…I happen to be one of those rare people that feel liberated when they can use a gesture instead of a word. If find that words hamper my ability to communicate, whereas I can understand a gesture, in a more subtle and relaxed way.
Latino Life: Is that why children respond with such enthusiasm?
Leandre: This idea of the clown and children is a fairly modern concept and I don’t agree with it. I think that the clown has a universal appeal for the public in general, be they adults or children. The clown offers something different for all ages, and I always try to involve everyone and transmit emotions because the key to laughter is to open people up and reach their feelings.
Latino Life: You have chosen to use props in your shows, in what way do you feel that they contribute?
Leandre: As with magic, for me the object has always held importance. I do not consider myself a pure mime artist as I have never actually studied traditional mime, therefore, objects form part of my show, I feel as if I am also an object. It is part of a distillation, and in a way it is close to jugglers, the concept of the manipulation of objects forms part of my poetic imagery.
Latino Life: Which artists do you feel have had the most influence over you?
Leandre: There are many! On one of my visits to London, some years ago [in 1999] I played at the Hackney Empire, working a small circus programme, in which I participated with Derevo and Salva Polunin, the Russian clown. But Chaplin has been one of the most powerful influences. I created a show Madame et Monsieur, which was a homage to Chaplin, to Charlot; the characters were two homeless people. Much of what we see in film today comes from him and his way of understanding emotions.
Latino Life: You interact with the audience and bring out the poetry, how do you do that?
Leandre: They say that the clown is the poet of the [theatrical] artists. I am not sure this is so, but, nevertheless, I always try to use laughter, not as an objective but as a way to arrive at a poetic expression. I have never felt the limitations of the fourth wall, I conceive the show as a setting in which all the world can play, and there are no limits to each performance; not only in the direct interaction with the public, because they become part of the show. I have always said that the audience is like the drummer in a jazz group. If he is not there, the rhythm is lost and everything collapses. The drummer is fundamental to holding the show together.
Latino Life: What can you tell us of Nothing to Say, the show you will be presenting at the festival this year?
Leandre: This particular personality, that forms my basic character, Leandre the clown, is solitary, and comes from the Chaplin school of eccentric clowns, and I feel comfortable with him. Rien à Dire is for me therefore the conclusion for this character, my basic clown, that I have been developing over 30 year. I wanted to try to bring that whole universe of those 30 years to the stage in a more intimate way, trying not to create too much spectacle, but focusing on the interior world, the life of a clown at his most relaxed.
LEANDRE (Spain) Nothing to Say (Rien à Dire)
Jacksons Lane, 269a Archway Road, London N6 5AA
Fri 20 - Sun 22 Jan Fri 8pm, Sat 6pm, Sun 3pm
£18 / £16 concs Age guidance 5+