I2B8365 1


titre Nauf Anglais 2


“I imagine a grotesque spectacle,
extravagant, excessive, funny and poetic,
with God looking down mockingly on us, without a care.
A Fellini-type world.”

Barthélemy Bompard

The painting of the Raft of the Medusa is a political and social manifesto. It is also the metaphor that Barthélemy Bompard has chosen to address the fact that our “democrapitalist” ship has run aground.

It is night-time, with the sound of buses, horns blasting and cars braking. In the midst of this vast human sea of a frenzied city we see six characters, as raw as meat, as acidic as stale sweat and as strange as the misfortune of others ... all swaying between excess and decline. This is a modern parable, with all its obscene debauchery. A bleak farce, with the reigning mentality of 'every man for himself' finally bursting into climax. Cloaked in a whirl of bleak colours, these chickens, cockerels, ducks and other hybrids from the high farmyard embark on a pictorial orgy that leads them to drink, eat, climax and finally explode.

Dissolved in the coarse salt of their own excesses, and carried away by the backwash of clashing worlds, as if caught up in a horrific seaquake, they find themselves lost and adrift in the middle of the seventh continent. They rock to-and-fro to the sound of experimental music, vocal effects and the rustle of plastic carrier bags rubbing together... Abandon-prayers-hysteria-tears-cries for help-finding one's place-hope-prostration-balance-imbalance-hallucinations-cannibalism-joy-madness-fear ... the horizon is no longer at their feet, on the solid tarmac of action and appearances, but rather facing the wind of their inmost depths.

There is a minutely fine, infinite line between madness and solitude.

artistic director’s statement

When the Medusa ran aground,
the captain of the ship ordered everyone
on board to evacuate the wreck,
deciding who should take the lifeboats
and who should be put on the raft....
One hundred and seventy-five people
were designated to finish their journey
on that small makeshift craft.

Initially, the whole convoy was solidly attached together as one,
but the great bulk of its mass proved too heavy.
So the captain decided to cut the rope securing the lifeboats to the raft,
leaving it to drift away.

Towards bedlam, suicide, murder, starvation ...
only fifteen people survived the disaster,
most of them from the senior ranks.

Whether it be 1816 or 2013, whenever there is a shipwreck,
it’s always the fragile that end up struggling it out on the raft,
being put through hell; the rest,
the people responsible for wrecking the ship in the first place,
they get put on the lifeboats.

This a social, political and existential storm
depicted through the tragedy of a shipwreck.

I have chosen to use the Raft of the Medusa as a metaphor
to address the fact that our “democratitalist” ship has run aground,
steered in the hands of great captains who have sadly beached us
on the shores of consumerism, globalisation and immorality.

tableau 1 james ensor       tableau 2 james ensor
© James Ensor / Intrigue                                               © James Ensor / Le Grand Juge         

naufrage 442


a show by Barthélemy Bompard
with the assistance of Nicolas Quilliard

artistic direction Barthélemy Bompard
with the assistance of Judith Thiébaut for the choreographies
with the assistance of Jean-Pierre Charron for the vocal and sound work

created and performed by
Armelle Bérengier, Dominique Bettenfeld, Eric Blouet, Thérèse Bosc, Jean-Pierre Charron, Céline Damiron & Nicolas Quilliard

musical creation Laurent Bigot
tuba player, Olivier Noureux

costume designer Marie-Cécile Winling
costume realisation Marie-Cécile Winling, Catherine Sardi

set designer Dominique Moysan
set construction Dominique Moysan, Laurent Desflèches

light Djamel Djerboua
sound Nicolas Gendreau

administration, touring and production
Vinciane Dofny, Marjolaine Lopez, Sandrine Morel


artistic file

 Kumulus - Naufrage (Shipwreck)   icone pdf 512    

Arts promotion and financial aids

Arts promotion and financial aids :

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

Le Boulon | C.N.A.R in Vieux-Condé

Le Citron Jaune | C.N.A.R. in Port-Saint-Louis

La D.G.C.A

Lieux Publics | Centre national de création in Marseille

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

La Paperie | C.N.A.R. in Saint-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

video photos


Teaser - august 2015 - Christina Firmino | 6'16

p-8H4B5689 p-8H4B5708
p-8H4B5721 p-8H4B5799


press / review

Cassandre / Horschamp

Bruno Boussagol

Nothing but plastic debris rippling over dead water

The theatre company that swept me off my feet last Saturday has been around for some thirty years. It never compromises on subject matter. Its dramatic art is consistently meticulous, maintaining an outstandingly high level of performance. The stage design is subtle, and with almost each new production comes a linguistic invention that plunges you into an exhilarating world of music and sound. It produces ensemble work, crafted by artists.

The latest production by the French theatre company Kumulus is called Naufrage (Shipwreck). Barthélemy Bompard, the artistic director, has based it on Théodore Géricault’s chef-d’œuvre The Raft of the Medusa; a masterful painting spanning 5 metres by 7 metres. Yet Kumulus’ Naufrage is a particularly cruel one, as it is a portrait of our own shipwreck.  I’ll try to give away as little as possible, and just give the scope of the damage. This is the realm of Beckett, with a random line-up of heroes: Michèle Alliot-Marie, Carla Bruni, Anne Lauvergeon, François Pinault, Bernard Arnault, Bernard Tapie and Claude Guéant in the role of the servant.  Nothing happens … but it’s all at top speed! The action covers transactions, exchanges, copulation, laughter, invitations, voyages, a contemporary art exhibition, denunciations, scrutiny, adoration and seduction …

The first, bracing half hour sets pulses racing throughout the audience. We are whisked away around a stage platform evoking St Tropez-like extravagance. As onlookers staring on, we are both full of desire and shock, eroticized and frustrated, rolling with laughter and desperate. And then comes the shipwreck of this world we have been reluctantly dragged along with. The overcrowded clutter of St Tropez gives way to vast stretches of desolation, as we sail out towards the seventh continent, where no one will come and save us. 

The genius of this theatre company lies in the actors’ ability to literally transport you with the help of only a few props, some gloriously ironic costumes, semiological precision and a powerful, ingenious and efficient set design. This is the shipwreck of appearance and reality, which is shown, acted out and broken down by seven actors and actresses, all performing at the top of their game. By the end, we have reached the raft of plastic debris rippling over dead water. If “masterpiece” were ever a term applied to street theatre, then that is what I would call Naufrage.


Paul Lorgerie

 Man heading for shipwreck

Naufrage inches its way forward shyly, without losing the audience in the swell of its drifting waters. It takes its time, using several long passages for the actors and choreography to steadily build up the image of Théodore Géricault’s painting The Raft of the Medusa. The action is slowly drawn out, opening with a brash display of feasting, and then unravelling into a portrait of madness incarnate. All the while, a look of hopeless despair gradually descends on the jeering faces of the characters as they head for ruin.


Jean-Pierre Thibaudat

Three men and three women step on to the raft, all togged up in elegant clothes from another era, their bodies swollen with pride, overrich food and self-importance. A servant, playing the role of human punchbag, stands at the foot of the gangplank holding a tray of champagne. The mood is decadently high-society, pushed along by an elaborately crafted pace, punctuated with jerks and trills. The characters look each other up and down, make wisecracks, and chirrup away gossiping in a writhing mass of highly choreographed gestures. It feels like watching a Buñuel film, but in very slight slow motion.

Just as you are about to start getting bored, everything collapses into chaos, as the raft, cut loose from its mooring, is set adrift on the high seas. This is the aristocracy sinking into ruin. Deprived of food, the characters find themselves within an inch of turning into cannibals and eating each other, as well as the servant, suddenly seen sporting a pig’s head. A clever interplay between the lack of food on the raft, and yet its glut of plastic bags, all hopelessly empty, that the guests throw overboard to build an ever-growing raft of pollution, that ends up in the stomachs of the fish, poisoning them to death.

France 3 Auvergne

From a French TV news bulletin shown / News report by Laurent Pastural and Valérie Riffard

A disturbing show that climaxes on a denunciation of shipwrecks, sadly of the contemporary sort - namely migrants drowned in the Mediterranean Sea.


Géraldine Kornblum

Naufrage portrays Kumulus’ acerbic vision of our democratitalist ship running aground in the social and political storm.


Thomas Hahn

We see a party, a ball: a throwback to the fancy socialite scene at the height of the Roaring Twenties. The characters’ outfits are a spectacle in themselves: ladies parading colourful opulence and extravagant accessories, and men a picture of fashionable elegance. Their smooth-talking waffle, fake laughs and drunken behaviour then descend into the logical next step - a champagne-fuelled bunga bunga orgy. Suddenly, in grotesque caricature, everyone on stage seems to be sucking each other, when in fact they are actually blowing. Breasts, buttocks and chests start to swell to phantasmagorical proportions, as if we were staring at all the characters through the lustful gaze of beer goggles.

The strength of this production lies in its careful attention to detail, its strong images and the cast’s outstanding physical performance. When the outer gloss finally begins to crack, they lay it on thick with yet another layer – of make-up. As if striving to conjure Dionysos, they slap on their make-up in full multi- coloured array. So from the outside, Naufrage looks like a clown show, though it is not actually looking for laughs. 

In a nightmarish spectacle, the raft begins to lurch back and forth, and the party-animals wake up submerged beneath the mountain of waste thrown out by consumer society. That monstrous industrial medusa that had originally made them rich, as they continued to throw out its rubbish into the sea. The French theatre company Kumulus also takes us back to the The Raft of the Medusa, depicting the immorality of capitalist society, all encapsulated in the tale of those shipwrecked in that ill-fated warship.

Théâtre du blog

Edith Rappoport

The action takes place on a raft that rocks back and forth, sporting a tall mast stuffed with plastic bags, and playing host to a work party.  Before long, the outrageous line-up of colleagues, all puffed up and caked in make-up, descend into a drunken orgy. Men and women writhe about head to toe embracing each other, indiscriminately sucking each other at every opportunity in yearning passion, regardless of sex. They all end up falling asleep, and then wake up stripping themselves of their bellies, fake boobs, and part of their coloured masks. The raft lurches even more violently back and forth, before the characters start removing the bags from the mast and throwing them over the side – but not before using them to dress up in and style their hair.

In this raging sea with no escape in sight, the seven main characters appear to be plunged further and further into despair! There is a powerful performance from the cast, now well acquainted with the dramatic escapades taken on by the French theatre company Kumulus.  Nearly all 800 members of the audience were held captivated around the raft, though some were left somewhat disturbed.

technical requirements

technical rider (may be subject to change)


This show involves a touring company of 12 cast and crew, including 7 performers, an artistic director, 2 technical crew members, a wardrobe assistant / make-up artist and a production manager.

 space requirements

Performance space:  10 m by 10 m

Surface (flat and level ground)

The audience is spread in a circle around the performance space

Exterior space : calm, traffic-free site (e.g. car park, square, inner courtyard…)
bordered lengthwise by buildings or walls (for the acoustics) with all stray lighting turned off

Interior space : a warehouse, depot, amphitheatre or theatre with retractable tiered seating

Maximum audience capacity: roughly 700 people

Lorry access (11 m)

Parking facilities are to be provided near the performance space for the lorry and a 9-seater minivan

Ideally, a location recce should be carried out in advance

A raisable stage platform measuring 3 m by 4 m with an air tube at its base,

and a 5.6-metre mast. Occasionally the mast may be 5 m high.

Weight: 400 kg, divided into 4 sections, each weighing 100 kg.

Full sound system (speakers, amplifiers, multichannel speakers) and light projectors.


equipment requirements

1 X 12-circuit dimming panel (2.5 kW minimum) with separate power supply

Lighting desk for a minimum of 12 circuits

Sound controls with 2 x 16A circuits

Stage platform control desk with 2 x 16A connections for the air compressors

1 dimmer channel for the house lights on the lighting desk

Small sets of tiered seating (3 rows), or 250 seats or benches positioned around the performance space, as well as rugs and carpets if some audience members are seated on the ground (the four corners must be kept clear to let the actors pass through).

‘CAPA 100’ or ‘CAPA junior’ power distribution systems to run 10 m of cables (air, sound and light)

Pop-up gazebo (3 m x 3 m) and a bin

stage set-up

The day before the first performance or dress rehearsal

personnel requirements

2 technicians for the stage set-up and break down  (3 hours for the set-up and 2 hours for the break down)

On-site security staff is to be provided during meal breaks, as well as at night, if there is more than one performance

performance details

The show is to be performed at night, and lasts 1 hour 15 minutes

dressing rooms

A secure, on-site backstage area (50 m2) is to be provided in the performance area with adequate lighting

IMPORTANT: on-site washing machine (5 kg min) facilities and a washbasin (with lighting), 2 X 16A output power supply connections, showers, toilets, tables (8 m lengthways), 10 chairs, 2 clothes rails and mirrors

Catering is required backstage before each performance: hot and cold drinks, bread, cheese, ham, fruit, biscuits and large bottles of water.

Dressing rooms will be required 2 hours after the show.


Accommodation is required in a calm area of the town / city centre (near the performance venue) for 12 people.
Two-star (minimum) 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  

Quelque p'Arts...,  Boulieu-lès-Annonay (07)
Saison du Théâtre de Vienne
, Vienne (38)
Festival les Turbulentes - C.N.A.R.,
Vieux-Condé (59)

Festival Friction(s) - Château Rouge, Annemasse (74)
Festival Furies,
Châlons-en-Champagne (51)
Festival Les 3 jours du théâtre,
Festival International de Théâtre de Rue, Aurillac (15)
Saison de La Rampe - La Ponatière,
Echirolles (38)
Saison des Pronomade(s) - C.N.A.R.,
en Haute-Garonne (31)

Des Tas d'Urgences, Rousset les Vignes (26)

A l’étranger

Festival de Teatro y Artes de Calle, Valladolid (Spain)
Europäisches Strassentheater Festival, Detmold (Germany)
Passage Festival, Helsingor (Denmark)

next dates

Next dates on our page  dates



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