At Mouffetard, in Paris, “La Langue des cygnes”: a dreamlike adaptation of the “Ugly Duckling”


Andy Scott Ngoua and Laurie Cannac in “Swan Tongue”.

Laurie Cannac, founder in 1997 of the company Graine de vie, based in Besançon, has always had a weakness for storytelling. Four of his six previous shows are thus more or less freely inspired by stories by Perrault, Andersen and the Grimm brothers: Hungry Like a Wolf (2009), according to Little Red Riding Hood ; fish tail (2013), according to The little Mermaid ; White-Ebony (2017), according to Snow White, And I want I want I want ! (2020), based on The fisherman and his wife And thorn rose. For some of these pieces, she worked in close collaboration with Ilka Schönbein, one of the great figures of contemporary puppetry, who herself adapted The Town Musicians of Bremenby the Brothers Grimm, in his last show, chimera journey (2021).

Read also: Article reserved for our subscribers In her show “Voyage chimère”, Ilka Schönbein becomes one with her puppets

For swan language, her new opus whose creation took place on Thursday March 9 at the Mouffetard-Centre national de la marionnette, in Paris, Laurie Cannac has teamed up for the first time with a choreographer, the Gabonese Andy Scott Ngoua, to make people dance on stage some of his puppets. She has also chosen to work on French sign language (LSF) as a form of artistic expression in its own right, just like dance or music. The show was designed from the outset in a bilingual version, French and LSF, thanks to a collaboration with actress and deaf storyteller Karine Feuillebois and actor Igor Casas, LSF translator-adaptor.

For the musical score performed live on set, Laurie Cannac called on Adri Sergent, multi-instrumentalist and composer, who manages to create a particularly successful sound environment, partly designed with the singer-songwriter Kôba Building, combining melodies traditional and contemporary rhythms. Finally, the video occupies an important place at the beginning of the show thanks to the images filmed by the filmmaker Fabien Guillermont.

great poetry

From this mixture of disciplines is born a show of great poetry, almost without words, based solely on the power of images and the expressiveness of bodies. In particular that of the main dancer and performer, Andy Scott Ngoua, who occupies the stage space. He alternates dance solos and duets with carried puppets, to which he sometimes lends parts of his own body. One of the most visually and aesthetically successful passages is the one where a mask painted on the artist’s back comes to life at the slightest muscle movement to give life to a terrifying monster.

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