Afternoon of a Foehn, Version 1 (“L’Après-Midi d’un foehn, version 1”), by Phia Ménard
In a show which is a hybrid of circus, dance and puppetry, Phia Ménard makes plastic creatures soar in a choreography of air currents.
Phia Ménard, a unique artist
A juggler and performer born in 1971 as Philippe Ménard, the artist transitioned to become Phia Ménard in 2008. An actor for Jérôme Thomas from 1995 to 2003, in 1998 Ménard founded the compay Non Nova to experiment with new forms of juggling.
2008 marked the start of the ICE project (“Complementary unjugglability of the elements”), a series of shows – notably P.P.P., L'Après-Midi d'un foehn and Vortex –, in which the artist juggles with elements that are constantly changing: air, ice, water and steam.
The ballet of the wind
In the centre of a circular stage, a strange puppeteer is busy. He cuts up, glues and crumples plastic bags. The first notes of Prelude to the afternoon of the faun by Claude Debussy echo. The wind rises. Under the influence of the fans, the plastic comes to life: the previously inanimate object awakens. The plastic creatures begin a joyful dance, flying around their creator, like dancing, independent dolls.
The master of the "foehn", a warm, dry transalpine wind, Phia Ménard orchestrates this colourful ballet with rare sensitivity and extraordinary ingenuity.
Fragility of the artist as Creator
Created in 2008 as the result of a commission from the Nantes Museum of Natural History on the theme of movement, Afternoon of a foehn, version 1 is the first part of the Wind Rooms (“Pièces du vent”), trilogy that Phia Ménard would go on to complete with Vortex (2011) and The Black Bones (“Les Os noirs”) (2017).
The artist imagines this show as a reflection on the dispossession of artistic grace. By breathing life into mere plastic bags, the puppeteer offers the front of the stage to his creatures and moves into the background. How can he survive the shadow of his creation?
A tale that evokes both humanity’s creative power and our destructive folly.
The success of a hybrid show
A fable without words which will delight ages 5 and up, L’Après-Midi d’un foehn has piqued the interest of international organizers since its creation. From South Africa to Hong Kong, from the United States to Argentina, including Europe, Russia and even China, the show has run every season since 2012.
A theatre of objects whose title refers to the myth evoked in Mallarmé's poem "Afternoon of a Faun", who inspired the composer Claude Debussy for his Prelude to the afternoon of a Faun, then the dancer Vaslav Nijinsky, in 1912, in a ballet that changed the history of dance.
The tour of Afternoon of a Faun (“L'après-midi d'un foehn”) in Argentina and Thailand in 2017, then in Israel in 2018 as part of the France-Israel Season, was supported by the Institut français.
The 2018 France-Israel Season (June-November 2018) was organised and implemented by the Institut français, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the State of Israel, and the embassies of both countries.