Tuesday 7 August 2012 | By Caro Moses
Gael Le Cornec: Understanding Claudel
French-Brazilian actress Gael Le Cornec returns to the Fringe this year to portray the talented yet under valued artist Camille Claudel, most famed for her association with fellow artistic type Rodin.
With Le Cornec having previously won Festival plaudits for her 2011 show ‘The Last Days Of Gilda’, as well as much praise for her portrayal of another artist, Frida Kahlo, her self-penned ‘Camille Claudel’ is definitely a show to check out this year. ThreeWeeks spoke to Gael to find out more.
CM: We’ve seen two of your Fringe shows now. How many times have you performed at the Festival, and what persuades you back each time?
GLC: This is the third time I’ve performed at the Fringe. It’s very different from everywhere else, because you have no idea what the experience will be in the end! I suppose I come back because I enjoy the challenge.
CM: Our reviewer very much enjoyed your 2011 show ‘The Last Days Of Gilda’. Is that likely to make a comeback at some point?
GLC: Thanks! ‘The Last Days Of Gilda’ first appeared at the CASA Latin American Theatre Festival in London and then went to the Colchester Festival before coming to Edinburgh. There are no plans for a comeback so far. But who knows…?
CM: Your 2012 show is about the French artist Camille Claudel. In a past Fringe production you played Frida Kahlo. Are you particularly attracted to playing artists?
GLC: There is something that attracts me to artists, especially female artists who were misunderstood and overlooked in history. I’m not sure where it comes from; perhaps some personal need to look at the past as a route to understanding the present.
CM: How did you first find out about Camille Claudel?
GLC: I watched a film about her when I was eight years old! The story has stayed with me ever since, and now it’s finally coming out.
CM: You sense Camille Claudel was a great artist, but one who was overshadowed by her more famous lover. Do you feel angry for her?
GLC: When I first came across the story, yes, I felt really angry. That’s what motivated me to write the show, I wanted people to know about her! It was extremely difficult for female artists at the time, they had to stick to ‘feminine’ subjects, but Camille was interested in bodies, movement, nudity, love. So she was criticised for being ‘indecent’, while Rodin was exploring the same themes and suffered no criticism.
CM: Do you think men are still taken more seriously in the world of fine art, or have things completely changed for women?
GLC: It has changed for sure. It’s better now, but I feel there is still room for improvement and for more opportunities to be created for female artists.
CM: You currently live in London. What made you decide to work in the UK?
GLC: I first arrived in London because I wanted to do a post-graduation in Zooarchaelogy ( I had just graduated in Biology in Brazil), and I ended up in a course called ‘Learn English through theatre’ and my love for theatre was reborn.
CM: Looking at your CV, you do lots of directing as well as acting, as well as some writing. How different are the challenges of each of these jobs? If you could do only one of these, which would it be?
GLC: That’s difficult to answer, because I enjoy all of them. And in ‘Camille Claudel’ I’ve taken all three roles! I’ve had support from the whole artistic team on the direction – though I think I’ve learned for the future not to wear all three hats on the same show, as it’s just too much!
CM: What other shows are you looking forward to at this year’s festival?
GLC: Off the top of my head, ‘All that is wrong’, by Ontroerend Goed.
Gael Le Cornec performed ‘Camille Claudel’ at Pleasance Courtyard at Fringe 2012.