La Machine was formed in the early 1990s as a collaboration between artists, designers, fabricators and technicians. Now led by Artistic Director François Delarozière, the company creates extraordinary theatrical machines, permanent installations, and also its own theatrical productions.
La Machine has created many theatrical machines including the series of giants for Royal de Luxe. Over a period of 15 years, from 1991 – 2006, Delarozière and his engineers designed and created a host of huge performing creatures, which walked the streets of European cities, the characters including Giraffes, Rhino and the giant Gulliver. Most famous to British audiences was the Sultan’s Elephant which transfixed audiences in London during its visit in May 2006.
In 2003 La Machine launched their show Symphonie Mécanique, a collaboration with composer Dominique Malan in which classically-trained musicians perform with industrial machines to create a live theatrical event. Symphonie Mécanique has been seen in cities all over France and in Spain, and will be in Paris at the end of September.
In 2003 the company created Le Grand Répertoire, a theatrical exhibition of extraordinary machines created for public places. It was seen in Nantes, Calais, Antwerp, Toulouse, and Marseille, and was visited by 50,000 people in Paris in 2006.
In 2007, Delaroziere and long-term collaborator Pierre Orefice opened Les Machines de L’Ile on the site of an old shipbuilding yard at the edge of the River Loire. A gallery containing models and designs for many of their machines is open to the public, together with a giant mechanical elephant on which members of the public can ride. In 2010 they will open another permanent attraction there, Le Carrousel du Monde Marins, a merry-go-round of fish and sea creatures.
Earlier this year they created Le Manège Carré Sénart, a square merry-go-round of insects and buffalo, commissioned by the town of Sénart, just outside Paris. It will visit Madrid later this year and St Petersburg, Russia, in 2009.
La Machine is based in two locations: in Tournefeuille, near Toulouse, and also in Nantes, in Brittany.
Les Mécaniques Savants: part 2 will visit Yokohama in Japan next year.
Visit the La Machine website:
From his early work studying at the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Marseille, François spent over 20 years exploring the world of theatre in all its forms. His artistic influences are many and varied:
“Leonardo da Vinci, Jules Verne, Gustave Eiffel, Antonio Gaudi, surrealism, dadaism but also everyday architecture, bridges, shipyards, railway bridges or my training in fine art. My father was a cabinet-maker, but he also built houses; that’s how I came to brickwork, to plumbing, welding and mechanics. But I think what inspires me most is a study of nature; before I invent, I observe life.”
This life-long exploration of theatre has lead to collaborations with major French and international companies from the worlds of traditional drama to experimental street art. Throughout his career, he has followed a relentless quest to push the boundaries of theatre, his work becoming a melting-pot for ideas and forms of the genre.
“He creates machines, machines which are both beautiful and crazy, giant animals, strange contraptions which play music, boats which sail across the land, birds from where you can have a drink in a daydream, a world which is both real and dreamlike and which invades cities for beautiful, moving and crazy celebrations.”