Sydney Festival 2015 announces first act – Tabac Rouge

Tabac Rouge_credit Richard Haughton 01In January 2015, James Thierrée returns to Sydney Festival with Tabac Rouge – his largest and most extravagant work to date.  Acrobat, musician, dancer, actor, mime, choreographer – Thierrée is recognised as one of the world’s greatest and most creative contemporary circus performers.

A Festival favourite, James Thierrée returns to Sydney Festival for the fourth time after sell-out seasons of Junebug Symphony (2003), Bright Abyss (2006) and Au Revoir Parapluie (2008).

Tabac Rouge transports the audience to the dark and delirious world of a disillusioned ruler, a King Lear or Prospero, haunted by images of beauty and chaos. Mirrors, mystery, movement and music combine to create a ‘choreodrama’ which Thiérrée describes as being about “desire, power, systems and mechanisms of society, and of how people organise themselves.”

In Tabac Rouge, Thierrée is joined by a highly skilled cast of performers and dancers who weave a physically daring production filled with spectacular theatrics.  Dancers rise and fall, reflect and refract in the many mirrors on stage and move in and out of the set’s enormous contraption – “la trame”. Constructed from a giant scaffold of pipes, mirrors and wheels the set becomes as much a part of the show as the cast, becoming completely integrated with the action.

James Thierrée has taken on the roles of director, choreographer and set designer for Tabac Rouge and he successfully pushes the boundaries of conventional dance, circus and theatre – conjuring a world of endless invention and fantasy. “I went into the undergrounds of my artistic desires.” said Thierrée.

His unique direction and choreography are further complemented by the costume design from Victoria Thiérrée and clever sound design ranging from Matthieu Chédid to Pergolesi. These elements all magically combine to create the production’s dreamlike ambience.

Festival Director, Lieven Bertels, was enthralled with Tabac Rouge when he first saw it in London describing it as “a feast of visual poetry” and saying that “in his largest work to date, James Thierrée not only shines in the lead role but also demonstrates his skills as a choreographer.”

“The show explores a world somewhere between the silent cinema classic Modern Times and a Jeroen Bosch painting – sometimes dazzling and funny, sometimes alienating and grotesque, but always hypnotic.”

“After the success of Vivienne Westwood’s fashion opera Semele Walk (2013) and Sasha Waltz’s choreographed version of Dido and Aeneas (2014), Sydney Festival is proud to present James Thierrée’s new masterpiece as another Australian exclusive for a season that will encompass our whole Festival period.”

Tabac Rouge will play the Sydney Festival 7 – 23 January 2015. For more information, visit: for details.

Image: Tabac Rouge – photo by Richard Haughton