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Costumes & Characters
    "As the summer solstice marks the end of spring and the beginning of summer, the 1990s are announcing the arrival of the next millennium. The show is a celebration of life, bridging the last bright years of this century and the dawn of the next." — Dominique Lemieux, Costume Designer

Nouvelle Experience, which pits the Corporation against the Devils, evokes every person's inner struggle between good and evil, light and dark, prudence and mischief. The way our society is organized, it tends to stifle people's desires and to distance them from important things such as love and dreams. This show's purpose is to remind us all of life's essentials.

Dominque started out as a graphic artist and illustrator of children's books, before being seduced away by the theater. When she arrived at Cirque du Soleil in 1987, she worked with Michel Crête. Two years later, she made a great leap, taking over all the costume design for this new production. Her sketches gave birth to the colorful characters that live in the show's universe. Whole families of characters flowed from her drawings: the Devils drew their first breaths, while storytellers became the "Flounes" and the Giants.

Dominique drew her inspiration from images and music of ancient and modern peoples, as well as fantastical creatures. She came up with one of the "Flounes" costumes, for example, while she was listening to Inuit chants. Their colorful costumes, with their absurd onion-shaped trousers and puffy sleeves, include slashed jackets as well as ties and belts drawn from the fashions of the Louis XIV era. Some costumes, made from lined upholstery material, are very heavy. Weighing over 9kg, the Flounes' medieval-looking outfits are made from a mix of lycra, velvet, and satin.

Dominique's palette includes colors, different for each family, that harmonize with wood tones, since wood is omnipresent in the sets: ochres, oranges, turquoises, crimsons, and purples. Ribbons, brocade, pompoms, frogging, velvet interlacing, buttons, gilding, combinations of colors and patterns, rags and glitter also give texture to the costumes. Interestingly, by combining the archaic and the modern, the medieval and the futuristic, the highly theatrical costumes of Nouvelle Experience cannot be pinned down or tied to any specific period. The characters, clothed in the colors of sky and earth, come to life in a futuristic environment.


    The Flounes, (which combines the word "clown" and "flo", the Quebecois slang for "child"), are the Angels of this world. These characters, cloaked in browns and ochre's, are child-like; inquisitive, curious, and full of energy. They are as if they are a lively breed of aliens approaching Earth for a close encounter of the third kind. Once viewed, they do indeed seem to be from another planet, their faces painted in vivid colors, their clothing dyed with streaks and patches of gorgeous colors. They speak in a gibberish not known to man but which, after a few minutes, becomes intelligible; and they walk in stiff, spasmodic steps, as if adapting themselves to the strange new terra on which they find themselves. They are sometimes referred to as the "Nasty Clowns" due to their unrefined emotional states, and yet they are central to the strings that make up the universal tapestry.
The Devils
    The Invaders of this world. Cloaked in reds, the Devils are the spirit of disobedience.
    The Slaves of this world. Cloaked in blues, Coroporation has their destinies controlled for them. (They are the house troup). Together they conjure the fantastical displays of dreams, wants and needs.
Madame Corporation
    Queen of the Flounes (played by France La Bonté), she is the epitome of control reigning supreme over the universe. She rules over Corporation with the Grand Chamberlain.
Grand Chamberlain
    The Grand Chamberlain (Brian Dewhurst) is the Ringmistresses' (Madame Corporation's) right-hand man. Together they control the destinies of all within the world of the Flounes.
Everyman (Clown)
    Along for the journey is a man dressed in a suit who represents any one of us - Mr. or Ms. Everybody. He shows us our most profound fears and searches for authenticity and sincerity. Using humor he asks many questions but the answers are hard to deal with. The world is full of illusion and lies; of emotions - love, hate, conflict and joy. He too is a trespasser in this world of the "Flounes" as he experiences these emotions and learns about life. Throughout the show the everyman embarks on a journey. He starts as an adult, and ends up as a child. In the process, he is empowered - and transformed.

    A number of actors performed the role, including:

    American clown David Shiner, a skinny beanpole of embattled comic tics in floppy gray pants and short jacket who looks like nothing so much as a collision between Harold Lloyd (an American actor, comedian, director, producer, screenwriter, and stunt performer who is best known for his silent comedy films) and Marcel Marceau's Bip (a French actor and mime most famous for his stage persona as "Bip the Clown"), is immensely gifted. Shiner pulls members out of the audience into his act ("The Film Scene") like reluctant taffy that he cajoles, noodles, browbeats, and finally spits out in the form of hilarious, brilliantly negotiated routines. [He is the Everyman we see on the DVD.]

    English-born Geoff Hoyle also performed this role for a time. Hoyle quickly joined the tour on 24 hours' notice in San Diego (January 1991), replacing David Shiner (after Shiner exercised an option to return to Europe - he would be back later the same year). His contributions would differe from Shiners', bringing over his "Mr. Sniff" character - an audience-participation routine he created and performed at the Pickle Circus for a number of years - and a show-stopping, three-legged man routine.


{The Devils}


{Madame Corporation}

{Grand Chamberlain}


Cirque Corner