Patricia Kapusta et Gilles Defacque

We help young artists with their careers, guiding them towards the right partners and networks so they can meet audiences and other professionals

Gilles Defacque and Patricia Kapusta have been partners for twenty-five years and have just handed over management of Prato, the Théâtre International de Quartier de Lille, having instilled their love of the performing arts there. They helped to develop this venue over many years, and it has become a must-see in the region.

Updated on 16/11/2021

2 min

Born in Friville-Escarbotin in the Somme on 9 August 1945, Gilles Defacque is the founder of Le Prato theatre, named Théâtre International de Quartier and located in the Moulins district of Lille. A clown, director, author, painter and photographer, he has run the theatre from its creation in 1973 until September 2021. Patricia Kapusta has been at his side as deputy director since 1991, after having previously worked for Danse à Lille with Catherine Dunoyer de Segonzac. Both former teachers, they have made the choice, for all these years, to present the power of live performance through poetry and laughter.

Since meeting a group of clowns in the 1970s, Gilles Defacque has created many shows that are still performed today, including La Polka des Saisons, Bégaiements, Loin d'être fini and Mignon Palace. In a career spanning fifty years, twenty-five of which have been spent in collaboration with Patricia Kapusta, he has brought together artists and personalities from different backgrounds to combine social issues with popular arts.

Initially created as a venue for dissemination and creation, Le Prato has benefited from its directors unfailing passion. Thanks to the multiplicity of shows presented, Gilles Defacque and Patricia Kapusta have shared their desire to discover the world, while mixing cultures. From conviviality to innovation, through a real thirst for excellence, they have highlighted audacious works to better strengthen the links between artists and their audience.

Through their work, the two partners have also sought to bring culture to those who could not access it. The popular dimension of the circus, and also the theatre, this perpetual quest for invention, whether for adults or children, was quick to be crowned "Pôle National des Arts du Cirque" after thirty years of performing.

Since the creation of the first Festival International des Clowns in 1983, Gilles Defacque has wanted to encourage international meetings and exchanges. Initially regional in focus, the arrival of Patricia Kapusta enabled the Prato to create new events, open to different cultures, such as Au rayon burlesque in 1998. In 2006, as Lille became the European city of culture, the Prato began a long-term collaboration with the Maison de la Culture in Tournai in Belgium through the PLôT (Pôle Cirque Transfrontalier Lille-Tournai).

A founding member of Territoires de Cirque, an association of producers and distributors, and Circostrada (European Network Circus and Street Arts), the Prato is also associated with Circus Next, a European platform for young circus talent. Until 2021, Gilles Defacque and Patricia Kapusta also organised the Les Toiles dans la Ville festival, a biennial event where artists from all over Europe present their acts.

  • 1973


    Gilles Defacque founds Le Prato in the Moulins district of Lille

  • 1983


    The first Festival International des Clowns du Prato is held, while the venue is now designated as "Théâtre International de Quartier"

  • 1993


    The first agreement between the city of Lille, the DRAC and the Prato is signed. Patricia Kapusta joins the Prato

  • 2008


    Le Prato, an official stage for the Burlesque Arts, launches the PLôT (Pôle Cirque Transfrontalier Lille-Tournai)

  • 2021


    After twenty-five years of collaboration, Gilles Defacque and Patricia Kapusta hand over general management of the Prato to Célia Deliau

The Institut français and the artists

On March 15, 2021, Le Prato organized a day of meetings around the training of circus artists in France and Africa as part of the Africa2020 Season. 

Initiated by Emmanuel Macron, the President of the French Republic, the Africa2020 Season took place throughout France (mainland and overseas territories) from December 2020 to September 2021. It was dedicated to the 54 states of the African continent. 

Find out more about the Africa2020 Season

Visit the Africa2020 Season website

L'institut français, LAB