La Photo Communale is an interactive form of street theatre show created by the French company Générik Vapeur from the city of Marseille. During an hour and a half, the company invited the audience to follow a musical walkabout through the streets of the Mont-Liébaut area, made up of a procession of vehicles including a giant camera put up on a tractor - Le Mammouth. In an improvised way, it took pictures of the residents walking on the streets or standing at their windows, accompanied by a team of bamboo frame’s holders made up of professional actors and 11 volunteers from the region.
It is about a participative show gathering no less than 10 organisations of the Mont-Liébaut/La Pierrette area: the football team, the majorettes, the rest-home, the photo club photography club of Béthune, the youth center, the multimedia library… Gathering together 150 people of all ages, these 10 groups were the main 9 steps of the show, each of them offering to the audience and the giant camera an original stage created a few weeks ago with the help of Didier Majewsky, a visual artist from Béthune appointed as the scenographe scenographer by Pierre Berthelot and Laurent Martin from Générik Vapeur. Each group was led by a volunteer of the festival, including 6 students of the University of Artois who helped them to be ready in time, to settle the last-minute hitches or to get back to the last step.
The elements of the set and the accessories were made by the groups themselves. The scenographer met up wit them several times beforehand in order to discuss about the image they wanted to present during the show.
Didier Majewsky always insisted on the fact that his work was to help the groups to produce a staging visually relevant. For instance, when he went to the youth center of Béthune, he was told by the coordinators that this place allows kids and teenagers to chill out. He suggested the twenty kids of the center to make windmills in cardboard and to blow on them together for the picture*.
*In French, another way of the word “to blow” is “to chill out”, that is why when the scenographer was told that the youth center allows the kids to “chill out” ("to blow" in French), he suggested them to make windmills to “blow” on them.
A volunteer of the festival offered Culture Commune to deliver 600 pictures of the area taken during the different renovation campaigns of the area during 40 years; the youth center’s kids could choose to convert them into «artistic objects» to create personal artworks.
The show started at the multimedia library Buridan and ended one and half hour later at the Communication square for the last picture of all the participants and the audience together that is to say about 400 people. The picture has been taken several times according to a well-established process (countdown, fireworks, illuminations, etc). In the background, a container announced the show Waterlitz, the new creation of the company scheduled on the Foch Square the night after.
The container has been rented by Culture Commune to organise awareness-raising days on the show among the school audience on Wednesday 9th and Friday 11th May. It contained an exhibition of about 20 drawings of the area, all realized by the kids of the CAJ during an artistic workshop run by Didier Majewski and Arnaud Verkindere the week before. 300 pupils of the surrounding schools came to visit the exhibition.