French company created in 1964 by actor and stage director Dominique Houdart (Neuilly-sur-Seine, 1941), who was joined in 1969 by actress, puppeteer and singer Jeanne Heuclin (Sablé-sur-Sarthe, 1940).
These two artists, whose research at first focused on masks and make-up, gave precedence to “object signs” starting from 1972 using diverse techniques: giant aluminium shapes, Plexiglas and jute figures, body puppets… and texts just as varied: Arlequin poli par l’amour (Harlequin, Refined by Love, 1972); Un jour mémorable pour le savant M. Wu (A Day in the Life of the Great Scholar Wu, 1973); Louise Michel ou les Œillets rouges (Louise Michel, Or the Red Carnations, 1977); Jules Ferry (1982); Le Voyage en Harmonie (Journey to Harmony, 1985) based on Fourier; La Parole qui agit (The Word that Works, 1992); La Leçon d’anatomie par le docteur François Rabelais un jour de carnaval (The Anatomy Lesson by Doctor François Rabelais on a Carnival Day, 1994); Le Misanthrope (1999); L’Inventaire des théories (The Inventory of Theories, 2001) by Patrick Dubost, a combination of black theatre and paper theatre (also called toy theatre); Phèdre (Phaedra, 2001), a requiem from the 17th century as counterpoint to the text by Jean Racine; and Zazie dans le métro (Zazie in the Métro, 2004), an homage to Raymond Queneau in which miniature Zazies “invade” their creator.
The Houdart-Heuclin company also explore the relationship between voice and material: Le Combat de Tancrède et Clorinde (The Combat Between Tancred and Clorinda, 1984); L’Ascension du mont Ventoux (The Ascent of Mount Ventoux, 2002). For their piece, Leçons de ténèbres (Lessons of Darkness, 2002), the company staged a ceremonial funeral in which veiled characters covered the architecture of the site. With regular collaborator Gérard Lépinois (La Petite Physique des quatre éléments, The Little Physics of the Four Elements…) and set designer Alain Roussel, the company engendered a sad and silent body puppet clown, Padox, and gave him a central role in several productions (La Nuit et ses épingles, La Deuxième Nuit, La Troisième Nuit de Padox, Padox au parfum, Padox café-concert – Night and its Needles, The Second Night, Padox’s Third Night, Padox with Perfume, Singing-Café Padox) and also performed in public spaces and popular neighbourhoods (Padox dans la cité, Padox in the City).
From 1981 to 1991, the company managed the Lavoir-Théâtre in Épinal where it organized the Colportage Festival for Street Arts (Arts de la rue). It then took over the management of the Marché-Rabelais in Chinon, before settling in Paris.