Silence encombrant

titre SE-site-Anglais


“Whoever wants to
remember must yield
himself to oblivion,
the risk being total oblivion,
and chance thus
becoming memory.”

Maurice Blanchot

A globe of the earth, a car bonnet, a birdcage, a doll, a washing machine … All of these broken bits of scrap have tumbled out of a waste skip and are hauled away by a group of fragile characters who carry it all with the strength of their own bare arms and an unwavering iron will. Shuffling slowly with hesitant steps, faces caked in dust, there is the clown, the policeman, the prostitute, the poet and all the others who drag (themselves) along the bits of waste and dump them on the tarmac, turning the space into a rubbish tip. Amidst the silence screaming out with noise, with the sound of debris scraping along the ground, the sound of crashing and mute encounters, these men and women try to find some sort of meaning in this puzzle of rubble. This choreography of shadows holds up its resistance, pushing the frontline towards unknown shores, where the madness of the wise,and the wisdom of the mad stare at one another head-on.

The superimposition between that and those, one being thrown and got rid of. Humans and waste are mixed up and merged as one. Objects become organs and humans become run-down machines, fit for the scrap. A globe of the earth, a bird’s cage with a tiny bell inside, the wishbone from a windsurf sail, a toilet bowl, a gas cylinder… All of these pieces of scrap from out of a skip are dragged along by the arms and legs of these ‘inadequate’ individuals, who are practically invisible and concealed. And the noise that rings out in the silence reaches our ears. All eyes follow the movement of these objects with bodies, and these body objects. Everything arrives in a jumbled heap. Scattered across the space, all the different elements are there ; spoons, feathers, socks... " human existence " jumps out when a man is flabbergasted to see that his hands can move. Is their final gesture made in a world where man’s main (pre)occupation is action at the expense of thought and contemplation ? Only those who find themselves in the airlock antechamber that leads towards death, only they get to breathe a different air, that last-chance air you breathe only minutes before existence comes to an end, so as to make the most of every second. Souvenirs for the person parting from the object, evocative objects for the person looking on. Just like looking in the mirror: we see the old-looking face, and behind it, we see how it once was before; if you prick up your ears, you will also hear the loneliness of the beings.

artistic director’s statement

The world we live in today measures itself
against the yardsticks of profitability and efficiency.
Capitalism steamrollers anything that
can’t keep up with the pace,
getting rid of the weak and useless.

A wasteland of men reduced to detritus.
Shattered to smithereens, dusty and dishevelled.
Humiliated men. Tattered and torn.
Distraught men, fallen apart and flaking into pieces.
Damaged men, damaged goods…

A zone of shame where silence is kept.
That outlying dumping ground where we pile up all of our human waste is an invisible realm, yet also a sacred one.
No-one wants to mention it,
no more than we want to allude to the subject of death.
It is glued together as a whole by silence.
And so parallel worlds open up before us,
a host of tiny little worlds,
worlds that are constantly being shifted back and forth with the tide of waste skips and rubbish collections…


a show by Barthélemy Bompard
artistic direction Barthélemy Bompard
with the assistance of Nicolas Quilliard

created and performed by Dominique Bettenfeld, Barthélemy Bompard, Jean-Pierre Charron, Céline Damiron, Marie-Pascale Grenier, Dominique Moysan, Nina Sérusier, Nicolas Quilliard & Judith Thiébaut

body work Judith Thiébaut
sound work Jean-Pierre Charron
costume designer Marie-Cécile Winling & Catherine Sardi
set designer Dominique Moysan
make-up artist Marie-Cécile Winling or Catherine Sardi
technical production Djamel Djerboua & Simon Lambert-Bilinski


 artistic file

Kumulus - Silence encombrant ( Deafening silence )   icone pdf 512

Arts promotion and financial aids

L'Atelier 231 | C.N.A.R. in Sotteville-lès-Rouen

La D.G.C.A.

Les Usines Boinot | C.N.A.R. in Niort

Le Moulin Fondu | C.N.A.R. in Noisy-le-Sec

La Paperie | C.N.A.R. in St Barthélemy d’Anjou

Le Parapluie | Centre international de création artistique in Aurillac

Pronomade(s) en Haute-Garonne | C.N.A.R. in Encausse-Les-Thermes

Quelques p'Arts... Scène Rhône-Alpes | C.N.A.R in Boulieu-lès-Annonay.

La S.A.C.D. | Auteurs d’espace public

video photos


Teaser of "Deafening silence" - 2011 august - Alice Béthular - 2'07

Deafening silence Deafening silence
Deafening silence Deafening silence
Deafening silence
Deafening silence Deafening silence

Deafening silence Deafening silence


Video of "Deafening silence" - 2011 august - Alice Béthular - 18'20

press / TV review


Edouard Launet

Deafening Silence (Silence Encombrant), the new production by Kumulus, manages to achieve the unbelievable - namely to keep you spellbound for an hour and a half with what is on paper ostensibly an uncompelling performance involving nine zombies, who do nothing more than empty a waste skip without uttering a word. The soundtrack is simply the scrape of junk being dragged along the ground; a scrap symphony, a choreography of despair.


Gilles Costaz

The Return to Political Themes

A large waste skip is left standing in the middle of a public square, when suddenly it bursts open, and starts spewing out objects and people. Amidst all the rolls of metal, broken signs, tangled electric cord, worn tyres and oddments of all sorts, men and women can be seen slowing emerging from the cloud of dust, all dirty, grey, scaly, dazed and confused. What exactly are the rejects of modern civilization, left for scrap? Are they things, or people? Kumulus, the French theatre company, creates this confrontation, bringing the audience face to face with the victims of consumer society. This is a particularly powerful show. What is certain is that Kumulus manages to captivate the audience with a rare intensity.


Angélique Lagarde

Very slowly, a procession of wandering souls empty out the useless objects that are so essential to each of their sad, daily existences: existences all built on fantasies of the dream life. This ballet continues inching its way further and further forwards to the sound of objects hitting the ground, knocking together and echoing through the air. Having brushed past each other again and again, back and forth, these poor miserable wretches finally end up actually noticing each other, and understanding each other.  And in the midst of all this desolation, together they manage to create for themselves a sense of possibility.  This production has a strange, poetic intensity.

Les trois coups

Léna Martinelli

From the deafening moment this show crashes in on the scene, up until the grand finale, it leaves a profound impression throughout. Radical and unsettling, Kumulus hits the right note making its point in a perfectly suited expressionist vein. And this poetic explosion booms out loudly. Intentionally!


Mathieu Braunstein

The Kumulus theatre company, now a veteran of the street theatre circuit (25 years), has this time opted to put on a performance devoid of words. Mute but by no means silent: this is the bottomless sewer of society which drives both men and industrial products to waste, out as rubbish, accompanied by the deafening scrape of the debris that they drag along with them. Here in the boundless strangeness of these " sub-humans ", who appear totally indifferent to one another, we can see traces of Beckett, Butoh, and a whole body of well-known catastrophe theatre…

Politiken (Denmark)

Like a grand still life, all the rubbish and displaced junk of death and misery are laid out before our very eyes.
What we witnessed is mortality itself in action. That is why Deafening Silence moved us in such an intense manner. But not until later. When it was all over.

El Mundo (Spain)

The XIII International Street Theatre festival came to a close yesterday with the final award ceremony, with the French theatre company Kumulus emerging as grand winner for its latest production Deafening Silence (Silence encombrant)– a portrayal of human vagrants and waste that walked away with the award for Best Production.

La Stradda

Thomas Hahn

Striking close similarities to the expressionism of Egon Schiele, Barthélemy Bompard and his company have created a reply to one of the best shows ever seen, the famous May B, the homage paid to Beckett by Maguy Marin. And indeed the actors from Kumulus can certainly hold their heads high when comparing themselves to May B. In the silence of their permanent failure, they become universal. These people have nothing (left anymore), but they remain clinging on. Isn’t what they are living here only the fate of most people? The consumer fights just like Sisyphus to inject beauty and sense into a life which will only end up as dust.

Le bruit du Off

Pierre Salles

Where some artists have little cause for hope in mankind in this 2013 Edition of the Avignon Theatre Festival, Barthélemy Bompard offers us the possibility of a collective way out.  Man, once rid of his own bits of waste and his rags, can find himself again, in a group, finally capable of hoping for a different future.

This is an extremely interesting project and dramatic work, which is also imbued with a distinct aesthetic appeal.


extract from a review by Igor Hansen-Love

It is the outcasts’ ball, the choreography of revolt.


Thomas Hahn

Kept in store for the audience this year at the festival’s commemorative anniversary was a major work of the tragic genre. Human rejects become universal symbols, even realer than life itself, as they embrace the unwavering dance of time.


Julie Bordenave and Pascaline Vallée

Kumulus’ old verve returns with Deafening Silence (Silence Encombrant), a mute, healthy uppercut.

La revue du

Kumulus distils street theatre into an eminently political tool, making a probing statement about inner city life on housing estates, and about the world in general with all its distractions. It also takes a profoundly disturbing stance where the very act of performance itself holds up a mirror to our own attitudes, our own vagaries, and to the downward spiral across our so-called "civilized" society.


Bruno Fougniès

This is a ballet staged in slow motion out of a fierce determination to clear a space in the hyper commotion of the modern world, meaning that you come out the other end feeling a bit dazed and slightly scared. Yet the actors maintain a precision that lulls the whole audience into a state of fascination, and leaves you genuinely impressed by the feat of design and stagecraft in this production by the Kumulus Theatre Company.

technical requirements

performance specifications (this document may be subject to change)

This show involves a touring company of 13 people in total, including 8 actors, one artistic director, one make-up artist, two stage technicians and one producer.

equipment needed

One clean skip measuring 30 m3 : Height : 2,20 m, Length : 6 m, Width : 2,30 m, with 2 doors on one of the sides. Coloured white, grey or black.
Make sure to provide seats for 200 people.

performance area (performance + audience)

An outdoor area measuring 1250 m2 (50 m long and 25 m wide)
surrounded by buildings or walls along its length (for the acoustics).
Lorry access needed for a 12-ton vehicle, plus a permanent parking space throughout the duration of the show.


The skip must be positioned in such a way that the sunset faces the door. This is to ensure that members of the audience do not get the sun in their eyes.

performance area

372 m2: TARMACground surface (eg : car park, street, square etc.)
A calm site, without any traffic.


stage set-up

Installing the skip : two days before the first performance, in the afternoon.
General stage set-up two days before the first performance.
Rehearsals the day before the first performance.
The set-up and breakdown takes around 3 hours.
A 16 amp power source is needed if the breakdown takes place at night.

A cleanup is necessary after each performance.

extra staff required

1 person needed for the unloading.
2 people needed for the breakdown and loading.
2 people needed during the show to place the seats.

performance details

Performance duration : 1 h 30.
The show is to be performed during the daytime.

dressing rooms

A backstage area (50 m2) is to be located in the performance area and should
include toilet facilities and three showers, tables, chairs and mirrors and 9 bath towels.
Catering is to be provided in the dressing rooms before each performance :
hot and cold drinks, bread, cheese, ham, fruit, biscuits …
Large bottles of water.


Accommodation is to be provided for 13 people in a calm area in the centre of town (close to the performance area).
A minimum of 2-star hotel accommodation
For meal requirements: one member of the company is vegetarian, an another member doesn't eat dairy products and an another member doesn't eat gluten.

previous dates

In France

Festival DañsFabrik - le Quartz Scène Nationale, Brest (29)
Festival les Echappées Belles - Scène Nationale 61, Alençon (61)

Festival Mimos - l’Odyssé Scène conventionnée pour les corps en mouvement, Périgueux (24)

Festival Friction(s) - Château-Rouge, Annemasse (74)

Saison du Train Théâtre, Portes-lès-Valence (26)
Festival Jours de Danse, Besançon (25)
Festival Off d'Avignon, Avignon (84)
Festival international de théâtre de rue - C.N.A.R., Aurillac (15)

Festival de Chalon dans la Rue - C.N.A.R., Chalon-sur-Saône (71)

Festival Viva Cité - C.N.A.R., Sotteville-lès-Rouen (76)

Saison des Pronomade(s) - C.N.A.R., en Haute-Garonne (31)
Festival Carrément à l’Ouest - C.N.A.R. , Port-Saint-Louis (13)
Festival les Rencontres d’Ici et d’Ailleurs - C.N.A.R., Noisy-le-Sec (93)

Saison de Quelques p’Arts… le SOAR - C.N.A.R., Boulieu-Les-Annonay (07)
Festival les Turbulentes - C.N.A.R., Vieux-Condé (59)
Festival Furies, Châlons-en-Champagne (51)
Festival Les Invites, Villeurbanne (69)
Festival Cergy Soit!, Cergy-Pontoise (95)
Festival Coup de Chauffe, Cognac (16)

Saison d’Arto, Ramonville et Toulouse (31)
Saison de printemps de 2R2C, Paris 7e
Festival Roulez Carros !, Carros (06)


Festival de Teatro y Artes de Calle, Valladolid (Spain)
Oreol Festival, Terschelling (Netherlands)
Festival Theater op de Markt, Hasselt (Belgium)
Festival FETA, Gdansk (Poland)
Festival les Escales Improbables, Montréal (Canada)
KIT Festival, Copenhagen (Denmark)
Festival do Teatro de Rua, Porto Alegre (Brazil)
Teatro a Corte, Turin (Italy)
Passage Festival, Helsingor (Denmark)
Festival Todos Lisbonne, Lisbonne (Portugal)
Europäisches Strassentheater Festival, Detmold (Germany)
Sesc, Sao Paulo (Brazil)

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