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The coatimundi, also known as the hog-nosed coon, is a member of the racoon family (Procyonidae). Its habitat covers a huge area ranging from the tropical rainforest to Central America and into northern Argentina. The coatimudi is a meat-eater that hunts during the day. It has a reputation for being extremely intelligent and mischievous. It can be found in little groups in the forest, alone or sometimes in couples. These endearing clownesque creatures of the tropical rainforest are one of its major attractions.

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croquis Marion B 03The Coatimundi Company was founded in 1972 in Mexico by Jean-Claude Leportier and Catherine Kremer

     Their original language is a combination of acting, mask work, mime and the manipulation of objects, puppets and automatons.
Each of their shows is an exploration of free space through dance, music, theater, visual arts, silent film, comics, humor and mechanics.
Their original silent « theater of images » has evolved towards an economy of visual means and a total mastery of the art of the puppeteer.
They have recently focused their energy on a new aspect of puppet theatre as well: the text. They are now involved in the challenge of creating a modern dramaturgy and writing for puppet theater.

     Their theater of Movement and Objects is aimed at a broad audience (with emphasis on the family). Their approach is simple, easily understood by children, with different levels of interpretation. Audiences not used to dark theaters will find themselves totally at ease.


CHILD’S PLAY

   In 1968, in Paris, they discovered the « traditional Sicilian puppets », the New York « Bread and Puppets » and the « Ronconi » theatre company with its Orlando Furioso.

   They set off for Mexico in 1971 to join a group of Mexican painters, friends of theirs. They were to spend 10 years there. That’s in Mexico that their company came to life with the creation of « La Manzana Voladora » (The Flying Apple) in 1972. In 1973, the Institute of the Artistic Creation of the University of Veracruz offered them to come and work in Xalapa (capital of the state of Veracruz).

   The company took then the name of « Patakes » and employed up to 8 people. At the time the Institute of the Artistic Creation had quite a number of professional groups : various orchestras, theatre and dance companies, as well as visual artists in their respective fields. A permanent professional training was offered to the artists residing there.

   They went back to France in 1981 and chose the Provence / French Riviera area to settle down. They moved to Avignon in 1989.

INITIATION

   At first they were visual artists (from 1966 onwards they studied at the Art School of Le Mans and then Paris). By 1974 they had started studying acting and miming (amongst others they studied with Julien Gabriel of the famous Marceau Mime School). Then, in 1981, they discovered tai chi, which they practised daily for 10 years and that became an important basis of their training (their teacher was Serge Dreyer, who had been trained by Maître Wang Yen Nien of the Yang School) . (contemporary) Dancing has been part of their daily life since the very beginning (their actual teacher is Alphéa Pouget.). Jean-Claude fell for Argentinean Tango in 1999.

FRUIT OF THE LOOM

   So far they have achieved 21 plays all very different in their expression. Some got an international fame (such as « L’œuf de Pierrot-Jean » in 1977; « Loup Noir » in 1984; « Chapeau la mer » in 1988; « L’Archange et la Dompteuse » in 1995).

   As professionals of the combined art of « puppet acting » they took part in many productions in France and abroad. They also worked as stage decorators and also conceived many puppets and automates (« Hurler à la lune » by Johanna Enckell in 1983, …). Their company has been invited to tour in many countries : Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, the USA, Canada, Japan, Korea, Finland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, Hungary, Ireland, Greece, Mali, Kenya …..

ALONG THE WAY…

   On top of their theatrical creations, they also took part in the revival of 2 carnivals (in Cogolin and Le Muy as project managers) and « made » some events such as « Images Molles » air experiments made with inflatables. On the theme « The Ephemeral Puppets » (made out of fresh vegetables), they published a book , set up an exhibition and animated some workshops. In 1995 they brought back to life the Regional Forum of the Puppet Theatres which is still unique in France and has been taking place yearly in Draguignan (county postcode 83) ever since.

CROSSROADS…

   In 1996 , they started working with the producer Alain Schons In 1998 they submitted to the National Centre of Theatrical Essais (or written productions) the project of a Writing Workshop aiming at the production of plays for marionettes. This experiment was the first of many authors / puppeteers gatherings that have now become a yearly event.

   In the year 2000, they are now carrying on with this adventure as they have asked Sylvie Durbec to join them to write a new play.

ANNOUNCEMENT

   The teaching they have always practised whether for themselves or to train the members of their company gives them the opportunity to reflect on their experience. (National Theatre Schools of Mexico in 1972, Helsinki – Finland in 1988, Mali in 1992….)

   Jean-Claude has been in charge of the training department within the regional association of the puppeteers since 1998 (THEMAA-PACA). He is now working on the definition of a syntaxes specific to the theatre language with puppets (the term puppet being used in its fullest meaning).