French company founded in 1979 by Christian Carrignon (born in Paris in 1948) and Katy Deville (born in Bad-Filbingen, Germany, in 1956). Théâtre de Cuisine’s first show – Opéra bouffe (Comic Opera) in 1981 – was inspired by the outdoor markets of Pau and successfully ran for twenty years. The story is simply about to eat or to be eaten, and is performed with fruits, fresh vegetables and utensils placed on a table and manipulated by a “crazed chef”. This is the fundamental basis which the company henceforth calls a theatre of objects: a performance where objects are hijacked from their initial function and subjected to various interpretations filled with new meaning; the artist passes freely from the position of manipulator to that of actor, while the scenery physically frames the story (see also Object Theatre). In the same vein as Dadaism, Surrealism, Yves Joly, or even Georges Lafaye, this form of theatre allows a story to proceed by collage where laughter and dreams are born.
The Théâtre de Cuisine has created about twenty shows in twenty years, including Catalogue de voyage (Travel Catalogue, 1979), using the action of unpacking suitcases; Opération Jules Verne, a travel show, in 1993; Francis a disparu (Francis has Disappeared, 1995), which alternated tales and the manipulation of objects. In 1992, the company participated in a tour of Latin America with Cargo 92, and in 1996 created Presque tout l’univers (Almost all the Universe), a show built on a connection between the first voyage of Christopher Columbus and the creation of a show within the troupe.
The originality of their work is also coupled with the matter of performance space. The company favours close proximity to the public using a scenography uniquely selected for each show: a standalone arena for Shakespeare-Perrault (2000), and a little yurt for La caverne est un cosmos (The Cavern is a Cosmos, 2002). In 1993, the Théâtre de Cuisine settled into a permanent residence at the Friche la Belle de Mai cultural centre in Marseille.
Since 1997, the troupe also organizes workshops uniting artists of various disciplines for imaginary “training”.