Canada Council Digital Originals

New digital circus series cuts right to the chase by eliminating the pesky plot

Éline Guélat and Vincent Jutras have created a new 12-episode web series with circus, puppetry and more.
Éline Guélat and Vincent Jutras have created a new 12-episode web series with circus, puppetry and more. (La Croustade)

This story is translated from Radio-Canada's French-language coverage of selected works from the Canada Council for the Arts Digital Originals grant. À lire en français sur le site de Radio-Canada.

Éline Guélat and Vincent Jutras both have a sweet tooth. After meeting at the École nationale de cirque in 2016, the two artists founded their own company, La Croustade, in 2018. Projects were going well for the young duo: a contract in Switzerland, a research and development residency, and their first show scheduled for last summer, for Montréal complètement cirque. But then the pandemic hit.

"When the quarantine was imposed in March, we decided to take a break. It slammed the brakes on all our projects, but at the same time, it allowed us to stop and ask ourselves questions before we even started for real," said Vincent Jutras, who specializes in acrobatics, dance, Korean plank and skateboarding.

After a few weeks off, the flame of creation was rekindled with a grant from Connexion Création. The duo chose to explore more deeply a concept launched by their advisor, the actor Didier Lucien.

They would create something similar to a play, with circus elements, and launch it as a digital series.

"We had done an exercise where each number was either opening or closing the show. There were real stakes; it wasn't any old scene, but the one that started and ended it all! So, we decided to make a 12-episode web series where we offer a beginning, a fade to black and an ending. It's the person in front of their computer who has to imagine what could've happened," said Éline Guélat, who specializes in acrobatics, the Cyr wheel and contortion.

The result is Pouding Chômeur, videos with good-natured humour. Dessert is a bit of a metaphor for the minds of Guélat and Jutras: a bet on playfulness. And the famous pouding chômeur, the sugary and inventive response that emerged from Québécois kitchens after the stock market crash of 1929, reflected their desire to put a bit of sweetness into the difficult weeks of spring.

The episodes sometimes give way to puppetry, dance, mime and physical theatre.

"If something didn't work, or we were starting to get stubborn, we would take a moment to remember that it has to be a game. If it wasn't fun, we went on to something else!" said Jutras.

The hours of exploration have already allowed them to present their first street show this summer, and the two artists can't wait to perform in front of an audience at their first in-person show, scheduled for 2021.

You can read more about La Croustade here.

This story is part of Digital Originals, an initiative of the Canada Council for the Arts. Artists were offered a $5,000 micro-grant to either adapt their existing work or create new work for the digital world during the COVID-19 pandemic. CBC Arts has partnered with Canada Council to feature a selection of these projects. This story is translated from Radio-Canada's French-language Digital Originals coverage. You can see more of these projects here.

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