One of Europe’s most inventive artists James Thierrée visits The Lowry for the first time on Wed 10 & Thu 11 May 2017 with his latest production The Toad Knew. These performances will be the only chance for audiences to see his latest critically acclaimed work outside London.
James Thierrée, the multi-talented European performer and director with an impeccable theatrical pedigree, is renowned for conjuring worlds of endless invention and fantasy, and inviting imaginations to soar.
An acrobat, magician, actor, clown and musician Thierrée is acknowledged as one of the world’s greatest and most creative performers and directors. Perhaps this is inevitable coming from an impressive linage of artists that includes his great-grandfather Eugene O’Neill and his parents French circus creators Jean-Baptiste Thierrée and Victoria Chaplin – part of the Chaplin dynasty.
A unique theatrical experience, The Toad Knew, is a spellbinding creation. Critically acclaimed, it is a seamless mix of mechanical marvels, seductive music, surreal humour and acrobatic finesse.
The Toad Knew features six characters who emerge into a strange netherworld of steaming water, animalistic machines and sinister objects. A woman transforms into a lizard, a piano plays itself and plates miraculously appear and disappear. In the middle of it all, Thierrée works his magic with the aid of a servant, only to have it undone by a man beast. It all happens underneath a huge, glowing structure connected to the stage with a thick cord of knotted wires. The Toad Knew emanates from a dream world of buried fears and encapsulates Thierrée’s creative process.
Thierrée made his stage debut aged four in 1978, appearing alongside his older sister, Aurélia, in his parents’ company Le Cirque Imaginaire. Thierrée toured with the circus throughout his childhood and teenage years. When his parents’ circus settled in Paris following long spells at Les Halles the company began to play theatres rather than circus tents, and so began Thierree’s interest in theatre performance.
In 1998 he formed Compagnie du Hanneton, named after his parents’ childhood nickname for him ‘le hanneton’; French for a particular type of iridescent beetle because he was always jumping around. This informal international ensemble includes both circus and dance artists and the productions include Junebug Symphony (2001), La Veillée des Abysses (2004), Au Revoir Parapluie (2007), Raoul (2009) and Tabac Rouge (2014).
Thierrée was recently awarded the César (France’s national film award) for Best Actor in a Supporting Role for French film Chocolat, about the famous clown Chocolat, who in 1886 became the first black circus artist in France. Thierrée plays Chocolat’s stage partner Footit. The film followed the pair as they become a famous duo in Paris Belle Epoque. For Chocolat, Thierrée was commissioned to recreate the numbers that Footit and Chocolat performed.
The Toad Knew has been nominated for three Molière Awards 2017: Best Show, Best Visual Creation and Best Director. The awards will take place on Mon 29 May 2017.
The Toad Knew
Dates: Wed 10 & Thu 11 May 2017
Tickets: £18.50 – £21.50 (inc bkg fee)