“I am an artisan of the imagination”: actor Jacques Gamblin is back in “Harvey”

Often described as “a tightrope walker”, even “a lunar actor who upsets the alignment of the planets”, Jacques Gamblin could only be seduced by the remark, a little “perched”, ofHarvey…

The story of this man in friendship with an imaginary being, which puts him in a state of calm, availability, kindness with the beings he meets, immediately appealed to me. He’s a bit like those children who invent unreal friends. He talks to him, he introduces him to everyone, so obviously it’s a little disturbing. This truly singular theme, with a style full of humor and poetry, interested me to the highest degree, as well as the fact of working with this troupe that Laurent Tellier knew how to build in a very generous way.”

Second Molière for best actor

Written in 1944, Mary Chase’s play – which won her the Pulitzer Prize – was performed fifty times on Broadway before being brought to the cinema with James Stewart, and allowing, seventy-eight years later , to Jacques Gamblin to win a second Molière for best actor for this character from Elwood, with whom he feels a special affinity.

He has a capacity for preserved innocence, he is unfiltered and knows how to invent a world that helps him to live and be happy. He brought this to me. I sometimes wonder off set how Elwood would react. I love when a character positively influences me in my life.”

Willingly taking up the famous phrase attributed to Michel Audiard: “Blessed are the cracked, they will let the light pass”the actor underlines the extent to which this theatrical nugget deals with the difference, the fine line between reality and the imaginary, between reason and madness: “Elwood’s crack indeed allows a lot of light to pass through! Because this being who is persuaded floods the people around him with persuasion, by dint of being so. People who doubt his normality are surprised at the end of a moment to believe in the existence of his imaginary friend.It is put into play in a very funny way, even burlesque, and it echoes the fact that I have always been interested in what the truth of each person is. ”

Before coming to Anthéa, in Antibes, Jacques Gamblin had already presented Harvey in Draguignan. A city dear to his heart, because he had done an internship there in 1976 which had turned the course of his life upside down, under the leadership of Hubert Lenoir.

With Hubert Lenoir in Draguignan in 1976

“That was the starting point of the profession that I took on at that time, since he offered me, following this three-week internship, to replace his technician. I said yes, we traveled around France with two actors, a 4L, and after a year and a half, I expressed the desire to become an actor. At that time, I saw it just as an experience to earn a living, and then the passion came little by little.”

Having become a man of theatre, cinema and television which has won several awards, Jacques Gamblin has been the author of some eight creations since 1991.

His latest, Hop! was written with four hands, or four feet depending, with dancer and choreographer Raphaëlle Delaunay. Under the watchful eye, he says, of Emmanuel Daumas, who also plays in Harvey.

“We started from filmed improvisations. We noticed that there was a lot of humor between us, repartee and, by assembling all the sequences, we saw that it told a story.

Even if, he admits, dancing was not necessarily in his DNA: “In my first show Hardware stores, she was not at all. But she was already arriving in the second, The Touch of the Hipin which I only spoke of couple dances, then in Everything is normal my heart sparkles, there were two contemporary dancers, and afterwards I had fun each time introducing dance movements. Because little by little, I had the conviction that this gesture was the resonance of the words heard. That the silence that follows is inhabited, it leaves this void necessary for emotion.”

In the same way that he worked wood when he was training in carpentry in another life, Jacques Gamblin likes to create a show.

“All of this finally comes together. We have a standing tree, which we think we’re going to make a piece of furniture.e and we think about how we cut it, how long we let it work. Then we end up sanding very small parts so that it becomes more and more refined… The parallel between craftsmanship and acting is obvious, of course. And I consider myself an artisan of the imagination.”

> Harvey, Tuesday January 10 at 8 p.m. and Wednesday January 11 at 8:30 p.m. Anthea Theater, in Antibes. Prices: from 13 to 40 euros. Info. www.anthea-antibes.fr

> Friday, March 10, at 8 p.m.

Grasse Theater. Prices: from 12 to 28 euros.

Info. www.theatredegrasse.com

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“I am an artisan of the imagination”: actor Jacques Gamblin is back in “Harvey”