As a small child, I discovered the world in the workshop of my parents, between painting and sculpture. My childhood was first spent in France and then in North Africa, Algeria, where I discovered another culture and the colorful and bright world that Albert Camus describes so well. There, I also discovered the theater thanks to Henri Cordreux, an inspired and generous man who had been a student of Jacques Copeau, and who brought theater across the territory to the remotest countryside. After the war, after having experienced the terrible camps in Germany, he was devoted to the great idea of making theater accessible for all, while continuing to invent professional pieces, and bringing together actors from all backgrounds and nationalities.
It is in this spirit, no doubt, that we created the Theatre de l’Iris in 1988 - in a city and a neighborhood where many communities live together. We created it with the idea that theater is a universal language that speaks to us of the world and of all cultures, that artistic research is demanding and precise, but flourishes not without work and authentic exchanges with the citizens that constitute or will constitute its audience or its collaborators.
— Philippe Clement, Founder and Artistic Director
In 2011, when our neighborhood theatre was threatened with eviction by the owner, we found ourselves like farmers losing their land.
We then understood that the work we have been doing for more than 20 years is like farming fertile soil, rich in sharing, exchanging and creating through the theater in its most eclectic forms. This theatre and place of transmission is an artistic environment for the community in the heart of Villeurbanne. An inspiring and sensitive terrain where people can meet and be understood - where life can flourish, even slightly, through creativity and community, through the energy and generosity of the people who cultivate it.
Our theatre was bought by the city of Villeurbanne, but the situation remains very fragile and there is a lack of resources to sow new stories and forms of exchange for the inhabitants of our neighborhood, and the multiple communities of Villeurbanne; children, adolescents and adults from all socio-cultural horizons who want to discover artistic expression as active participants or spectators.
— Caroline Boisson, Assistant Artistic Director
Un lieu, des liens
Villeurbanne is a city in the agglomeration of Lyon, France. It is a city with its own historic value and is full of many diverse neighborhoods with people of different cultures and backgrounds. The Theatre de l’Iris is a neighborhood theatre and school. We would like to use this unique space as our ‘town hall’, our starting point and meeting place to learn more about some of the neighborhoods and communities that make up the city of Villeurbanne.
— Maryann Perrone
Philippe Clement, co-Key Player for Villeurbanne, is an actor, director and teacher of dramatic arts. He studied with Henri Cordreaux in Algeria and at the national conservatory in Lyon, France. He also holds a Masters Degree in theatre studies and the French terminal teaching degree in acting. Philippe founded the Theatre de l’Iris in 1988, with a permanent theatre troupe and acting school. He has a long history of acting in and directing classical and contemporary theatre pieces. In 2003, he created and now directs the theatre department at the National School of Music, Dance and Theater in Villeurbanne, France.
CAROLINE BOISSON is an actor, director and teacher of dramatic arts. She studied theatre with Catherine Anne and at the National School of Dramatic Arts of Saint Etienne and the National Conservatory of Lyon, France. Caroline co-founded the Theatre de l’Iris in 1988, and has acted in over 20 pieces under the direction of Philippe Clement, as well as directing her own work with the theatre troupe. She holds the French terminal teaching degree in acting, and teaches both at the acting school and the National School of Music, Dance and Theatre in Villeurbanne, France.
Here is one example of the project titled 'This is my Neighborhood'.
It's a starting point for working with Philippe Clement and Caroline Boisson to develop the materials and media that will help us understand and present the cultural evolution, current state, and future plans for this city.