Shadow tales (Creation 2003)

Cahin-Caha deviates circus into a universe of passion, weaving its own thread through a tale of renunciation, of secrecy and betrayal, where the trials are not punishment but incitement, a path towards self-realization.

Grimm by cahin-caha par cahin-caha

Don’t expect children’s’ story-hour, but the real thing - cruel, arbitrary, somber and sensual, an imagery of the subconscious that holds the keys to a universe of transformation, of magic, of initiation, in a world divided into shadow and light, mystery and rational.

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Photo : Fanny Soriano

The violent naivety of children is our guide through a forest peopled with archetypal characters, fragments of intimacy, accumulations of matter ; feathers, paper, points of light, tiny sounds, bits of metal turning into music, bits of wood into houses, kings turning into princesses, shards of dreams turning into fairy-tales.

A big red circus tent, 28 meters in diameter, seats 500 spectators and comprises a circular 200m2 playing area, a bar and face-to-face bleachers. A taut net is suspended over one of the entrances to the 15m-diameter circular playing area.
In the first part of the evening the spectators find themselves wandering amongst various « side-shows » which take place in the crowd, on the fringes and in the air. The bleachers are then unveiled and the spectators take their seats, their feet on the edge of the playing space. At the end of the main show a bar descends from the heights of the tent and the audience is invited to join us for food, drinks, dance, discussion - often late into the night...

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"We are only limited by our dreams". As long as you dream, society is limited. In other words : get up and act ! Grimm is an enigmatic performance on the edge of mystical, questioning the notion of the "beyond", which implies that of limits.
You must see the necessity…"
Jean-Michel Guy, Mai 2003


LD - Nord Eclair - 8 mai 2004
Samuel Lieven - La Voix du Nord - 7 mai 2004
Yasmine Youssi - La Tribune - 6 avril 2004
Gwénola David - La Terrasse - 31 mars 2004
Philippe Akilon - Télérama -10 mars 2004
Thierry Voisin - L’Express - 8 mars 2004
Anne Quentin - CNDP - 5 mars 2004
Gilles Rof - Marseille Hebdo - 21 janvier 2004
Monique Heitzler - DNA - 30 avril et 4 mai 2003

"Mongrel Circus" - If it defines itself thus, it is because Cahin-Caha rhymes circus with dance, theater and music. With virtuosity and eccentricity. In their world, no trapeze acrobatics but ropes, branches and nets. No juggling balls, but flowerpots, candles or bamboo birds, feats balance on the head, between fingers. Diversion ? Sure, but the essence of the circus there. Suffice to say the essential.

  • Nord Eclair - 8 mai 2004

This potpourri concocted by the Cahin-caha tribe from Grimm’s fairy tales convene all styles, all music, all the circus arts. A sophisticated and folk show at the same time. A mongrel art, in the ambiguous and creative sense. A language of sound and images that manages to capture the attention of toddlers, all the while placing adults in front of their responsibilities. Impossible to have one’s thoughts elsewhere. Elsewhere, is here, with these artists staged by Gulko.

  • Samuel Lieven - La Voix du Nord - 7 mai 2004

...Their thing is precisely the circus atmosphere. Their last show was inspired by Grimm’s fairy tales which, as everyone remembers, does not cater particularly to children. An opportunity to plunge the audience into a cruel dark, sultry, sometimes sensual, often disturbing and rather unusual atmosphere, for a circus...A strange and unsettling spectacle, but so original.

  • Yasmine Youssi - La Tribune - 6 avril 2004

... True to their style, that is to say, iconoclastic, committed, really sassy and a little trash, this French-American circus has composed a disconcerting parable of renunciation, trials, and the passage that leads us to self-realization ... Grimm plunges us into a world shrouded in mystery and unfolds from metamorphosis to transformations, moments suspended in dizzying precipitations. No linear narrative but a skein that takes unravels at the whim of high-voltage or meditative rhythms of the live music ... We are limited only by our dreams these virtuoso artists tell us ... Open up wide !

  • Gwénola David - La Terrasse - 31 mars 2004

"We are limited only by our dreams," leitmotif of this show that revisits the tales of the Brothers Grimm, retaining only the essence. Hence an amazing world - shattering, delirious, between heaven and earth, inventive.

  • Philippe Akilon - Télérama -10 mars 2004

Faire la nique à Disney. Belle revanche pour l’Américain Gulko, qui fait du cirque en boxant les conventions du genre et ce nouveau spectacle en préférant, aux manières édulcorées de Blanche-Neige et les sept nains, les premières œuvres des frères Grimm, plus cruelles, plus érotiques et amorales. Des contes de l’ombre où tout est magie et transformation, où le roi troque sa couronne contre un bonnet d’âne et où les robes se transforment en parachutes. Un spectacle d’images, audacieux, violent, déroutant, mais nécessaire pour tuer enfin l’enfant innocent qui est en nous.
Screw Disney. Sweet revenge for the American Gulko, who makes circus while KO’ing conventions of the genre and this new show preferring, to the sugar-sweet ways of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, the first works of the Brothers Grimm, cruelest, more erotic and amoral. The shadow of tales where everything is magic and transformation, where the king trades his crown against a dunce cap and where dresses become parachutes. A picture show, bold, violent, disconcerting, but necessary to finally slay the innocent child within us.

  • Thierry Voisin - L’Express - 8 mars 2004

Enough has been said of all the benefit of fairy tales on childish fears, their simplifying virtue of existential problems. By identifying with the hero, children can better overcome the challenges they face, to build a personality on positive bases. Here, the circus is full of strong images often naive but never false, where magic allows initiation. The universe of fairy tales is there, alive and well.

  • Anne Quentin - CNDP - 5 mars 2004

...Grimm employs the usual vocabulary of the troupe : a high-vitamin and poetic mixture of dance, circus, comedy, live music. The famous "mongrel circus" for which Cahin-Caha is the self-proclaimed inventor. In the maelstrom of entries and exits, we recognize quite a few iconic figures - the king, the princess, the witch ... - but mainly we are drawn in by the raw emotion, pinned to the bleachers by the aerial prowess of human spider Eric Lecomte, amazed by the overwhelming truculence of Harry Holtzmann or just stopped by this strange apparatus that rises towards the rafters at the end of the show... which perfectly symbolizes the Cahin-Caha mind : a circus that invents things where you never expect them.

  • Gilles Rof - Marseille Hebdo - 21 janvier 2004

...They were soon to remain astounded at the virtuosity of amazing images, speaking grandly to the imagination ... Cahin-Caha opens the door to a dream, at a magnificient rhythm, and leaves everyone the freedom to follow the thread of the stories their childhood, their memories ...
Tip : to fully enjoy the show, leave at the door the conventional ideas of linear drama to which we have been accustomed. The bad guys are really bad and violent, and this is rendered in Grimm. But the tales are stories where the way out of hell, the passage of a good fairy, are always possible. So all is well, and this new creation really gives food for thought.

  • Monique Heitzler - DNA - 30 avril et 4 mai 2003


  • Artistic direction : Gulko
  • Players : Jules Beckman - Anna Buhr - Claire Harrison-Bullett - Olivia Cubero - Jörn Gehlker - Harry Holtzman - Bob Lipman - Jeanne Mordoj - Dirk Schambacher
  • Technical staff : Mickaël Berret - Alexandre Crubézy - Bernard Molinier - Timothée Vandersteen
  • Administration : Laurence Edelin - Isabelle Van Daele


  • Conception, staging, scenographic conception & co-author : Gulko
  • Co-authors : Jules Beckman - Claire Harrison-Bullett - Olivia Cubero - Jörn Gehlker - Harry Holtzman - Eric Lecomte - Bob Lipman - Jeanne Mordoj - Fanny Soriano
  • Assistant direction : Patrick Belaubre
  • Scenography & constructions : Catherine Teilhet assisted by Chloé Benoit & Cécile Claveries
  • Lights : Hervé Gary assisted by Pierre Villard & Mickaël Berret
  • Costumes : Karine Bellisi and Alain Burkarth
  • Design et construction decors : Silvain Ohl assisted by Maryse Jaffrain and Jean-Marc Delannoy
  • Aerial Scenography : Eric Lecomte & Haut + Court (conception net)
  • Choreographic assistance : Jess Curtis
  • Drawings : Linet Andréa
  • Photo : Jean-Pierre Estournet
  • Assistants production & administration : Marine Basset & Charles Vairet


Lille 2004, Capitale Européenne de la Culture avec le soutien du Prato
Scène Conventionnée danse et cirque de Grasse
Festival « Pisteurs d’Etoiles » d’Obernai
Parc et Grande Halle de la Villette, Paris
Région Haute-Normandie - Théâtre en Région
Atelier 231 de Sotteville-lès-Rouen


Conseil Régional Provence Alpes Côte d’Azur
Ministère de la Culture et de la Communication (DMDTS)

Théâtre du Centaure, Marseille
Théâtre l’Avant-Scène de Cognac
Scène Conventionnée danse et cirque de Grasse
Atelier 231 de Sotteville-lès-Rouen associé à la Scène Nationale de Petit-Quévilly
Festival « Pisteurs d’Etoiles » d’Obernai
Festival « Janvier dans les Etoiles » de la Seyne sur Mer

The company is supported by :
La Direction Régionale des Affaires Culturelles Provence Alpes Côte d’Azur
La Ville de Marseille
Le Conseil Général des Bouches du Rhône
La Fondation BNP Paribas

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