Melbourne Festival: A chat with Xavier Bouvier

There’s one more chance to see Belgian clowning duo Okidok in Slips Inside at the glorious Foxtel Festival Hub on Friday 26 October. Aussie Theatre grabbed a quick chat with half of the duo, Xavier Bouvier.

Fresh from a run of acclaimed performances at Avignon Festival, Okidok present their latest piece of inspired madness where two cartoon-like characters compete to outdo each other in ridiculous feats of acrobatics and outlandishness, presenting a riotous evening of ludicrous physical comedy.


Describe you show?
Two characters think they are as beautiful as Brad Pitt and think they have the same muscles than JeanClaude Van Damme, they are really proud to come to perform to show how great they are.

What other Melbourne Festival show will you NOT miss seeing?
La Soiree

What was the first festival you were a part of?
Festival international de cirque de Onnezies (Belgium) in 1987.

Apart from the Melbourne Festival, what festival would you love to be a part of?
Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

If you’re new to Melbourne, what else are you looking forward to doing while you’re here?
I love to discover a city just by walking through the streets and going to the museum.

What’s one of the great things about performing in a festival?
The combination of work and holidays.

What do you like to do when you have a day away from art?
I would like to drive down the Great Ocean Road.

If you could invite anyone to see your show (and you know they would come), who would it be?
Any sympathetic people we meet.

What is the best theatre advice you’ve received?
Performing and performing, you learn theatre by experience on stage.

What’s the worst (or best) thing a review has said about you or your show?
For this show, a review said that it was wonderful how much people were laughing during the whole show with almost nothing on stage, no words, there is almost nothing on stage except our two bodies. The madness and stupidity of the characters hold all the show.

And the worst was “ Great performers are looking for a director”. The journalist didn’t find a message in our show, he just saw entertainment and wasn’t happy with that. But I don’t agree with his point of view. The difference between an entertainer and a clown, is that the clown opens his heart to laugh at himself, he doesn’t wear the mask of the joker. To play a clown character is an attitude. It ‘s about making the choice to show an unperfect, singular character who tries to do the best with what’s life’s given to him. To accept even the disaster of your singularity, even the gift of your singularity, turns sometimes your common life into poetry, sometimes not. Taking this risk in an attitude. And that can be a message.

What was the last book you read?
Le merveilleux au moyen âge by Jacques Le Goff.

What was the last piece of theatre you saw that made you cry?
Obludarium by Matej et Petr Foreman

What does art mean to you?
It makes life more beautiful.

Will anyone hate your show?
People who have problems with bodies in underwear, and nudity.

What work changed how you make theatre? Why?
I saw voyage en bordure du bout du monde from “les trois points de suspension”. It’s clowns who are playing a Greek tragedy they wrote themselves. Before then we had written clown theatre by acts, because we are clowns and we worked for circus, cabaret and theatre, so we wrote maybe twenty different acts, and for our next show, we would like to tell a story, should be a quest, with clowns knights.

What is the first piece of theatre you remember seeing?
La soupe aux grenouillesI was a child. I remember a huge plate, with green water inside and plants and there was a comedian (I guess it was a comedian) wearing a frog costume.

What director/actor/writer/creator would you just die to work with?
I don’t know, I don’t want to die.

What do you love most about your show?
The freedom of the characters.

Slips Inside
Foxtel Festival Hub
LAST PERFORMANCE: Friday 26 October

Anne-Marie Peard

Anne-Marie spent many years working with amazing artists at arts festivals all over Australia. She's been a freelance arts writer for the last 10 years and teaches journalism at Monash University.

Anne-Marie Peard

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