International Festival Q&A: Dimanche

Sandrine Heyraud, one of the creatives behind Dimanche, tells us about how the visual performance combines puppetry, video, mime and clowning

feature (edinburgh) | Read in About 5 minutes
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Photo by Virginie Meigné
Published 04 Aug 2023

Tell us about your show and what audiences can expect? 

Dimanche which in French means Sunday, is the collective work of our two theatre companies, Focus and Chaliwaté. Our starting point was the observation of the gap between the awareness of the need to act facing climate change and our incapacity to translate this consciousness in our daily routines and lives. This gap gave us to see many surrealistic situations combining comedy and tragedy. Between oneirism and reality, Dimanche paints the portrait of humanity in total mismatch with its time, seized by the chaos of climate change. We hope the audience will feel concerned and preoccupied by the questions that we share and at the same time, we hope people will come out surprised and enthusiastic, having experienced a moment of magic. We hope it inspires and celebrates beauty, poetry and community. That it will trigger discussions and possibly changes. 

Can you talk about some of the creative team involved?

We worked for three years to create the show (Sicaire Durieux, Julie Tenret and Sandrine Heyraud). The first year we wrote a scenario, a storyboard with images that were already very clear at the time. The absence of words in the show arouses, in our case, visual creativity and the elaboration of another language, non-verbal but with a clear narrative thread. Then the two next years were devoted to testing this scenario on stage, confronting our ideas to the stage and changing, adapting, depending on what worked or not. As we are the writers, directors and performers all at once, we film ourselves and work a lot in front of a mirror to be able to see the images we are creating. We rehearse until we reach the perfect score, like a music sheet, every movement and gesture is written and precise. We also work with an outside eye, Alana Osbourne, who frequently comes to see the advancement of our work and to give us feedback.

We were of course surrounded by a solid artistic team, which with us, put all their talent to serve the show. Little by little, when needed, members of the team joined us to work on the sound, the lights, etc. The ultra-realistic puppets by Joachim Jannin and props by Zoe Tenret and Sébastien Munch took a lot of time and a lot of back and forth before we had the definitive versions. It was so exciting to see how the puppets came alive when we started manipulating them. The sound created by Brice Cannavo is a very important element as we do not speak in the show. The sound creates spaces and participates in the story telling. Making the videos of the reporters with Tristan Galand was quite a challenge as we had very artisanal and simple means, it was a very team-building moment in the creative process of the show. 

Where do you draw inspiration from for your work, both in terms of creation and performance?

We have a common taste for unusual theatrical forms, an artisanal theatre of images without words. Dimanche plays on comedy in tragedy in line with Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton, using humor to speak about the human condition, highlighting our vulnerability. We are also influenced by the work of film directors such as Jacques Tati, Wes Anderson, Jim Jarmusch. The drawings of Jean-Jacques Sempé sketching our dreams and our anxieties, the littleness of humans facing nature, fetching into our contradictions and the often blind limitless ambitions of humans, are other great inspirations.

Do you tend to take inspiration from events happening in the world around you in terms of your work? Do you think artists have a responsibility to respond to what's happening?

We use daily situations as a starting point, from daily life to speak about societal subjects that affect us. We aim to create a visual and poetic language that draws from the intimate, the 'infra-ordinary', and reaches the universal, from the little routines of the individual to the global impact of human activity. We believe that art, humour and poetry call us to resistance by the singularity of the way each form expresses itself. Theatre creates a moment of fellowship and of sharing. Dreaming collectively, watching something collectively. Looking at and listening to performers moving and acting in front of us can be very powerful, it creates the desire to be a community. Theatre opens doors that give us the possibility to go elsewhere, to experience something different.

There is a French writer and adventurer called Sylvain Tesson who said: “I believe in the power of poetry, I think poets have as much to say as statisticians, scientists and computer engineers do, about the world. I believe that when we see a suffering landscape, we can certainly analyse the problem and translate it into statistics, we can certainly take action at State level to protect it, but poets must also speak of its beauty”.

How can Edinburgh audiences keep up with you beyond the festival?

We are not the best at social media but you can always look up information on our work and our next tour dates on our websites: and