James & Cie - Les écarts

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About James & Cie – Les écarts

James & Cie is a group of imaginary drawn characters. Behind each one of them, five amateurs, authors of poems, tales and short-stories called: Les écarts (The distance).

This project initiated by Romain Ravenel was born on the web and social networks in September 2013. Romain is a Stage director and Theatre teacher currently artistic director, illustrator for James & Cie and author of James.

It all began with several e-mail exchanges between Romain and his best friend, whom he had met in Lille when they were both drama students. The texts they exchanged were not intended to circulate but it was thought they could one day be used on stage. Eventually unusual characters began to emerge from their literary universe and thus the first two characters of James & Cie, James and Pereira, were born.

On his return from three years in Poland, Romain Ravenel suggested to his friend that they create a Facebook page to publish their writings in the form of short poems entitled: The Distance. After reading and talking about this project, he decided to give substance to the characters by creating illustrations and drawing portraits of James and Pereira. He also created theatrical skits called the Daily-Life: a series of illustrations with text, showing the characters interacting with situations and thoughts. Soon the characters had a unique graphic identity in a universe of their own.

The feedback gathered from viewer-readers encouraged Romain Ravenel to meet new authors with whom he created the group James & Cie consisting of several authors-characters: James, Pereira, Flea & Chip, Kymog and Axel Zeebrugge, etc. Based on their texts, he drew their visuals and decided to bring the characters to life by creating a website: James & Cie – The Distance where you can find the collection of texts, drawings and activities of each character.

For Romain Ravenel, the name The Distance is an artistic and literary concept referring to the physical stance of a character facing an object and his act of « moving away to get a closer look at something.” says Romain. In James & Cie’s written work, you will always find this distance regarding situations and the detached attitude adopted by the characters towards objects they witness and the worlds they roam in. These wanderers like to get lost in cities, in the countryside and cafes, only to share with us, in the aftermath of their wanderings, their poems, tales and short-stories: « At first, I used the term : socio-poetic to define some of our writings. « 

To this concept of distance he added the one of Virtual Theatre: « When I create a play from a text, I find myself drawing the performance on a notebook. Not just the costumes and characters but also the movements, the attitude of the body and its dynamic in space. I noticed that my work as a stage director was very similar to my work on James & Cie. Texts evoke images that I want to see through animate and inanimate bodies. As an artist, I stage these characters in the same way I direct the movements of an actor: I visualise a posture, an attitude, the tensing and relaxing of the body which I try to convey to the audience through drawing and hope it resonates within the text. For me, James & Cie is a hybrid thing: borrowing such elements of theatre such as: character-building, creating skits and dialogue, producing stories and tales specific to each and every one. However, given this is an internet creation it can only be a virtual theatre and it demands certain theatricality in the drawings, in the movements of the characters, in their scenes and dialogues« .

As you can see, this project is full of surprises and is developing quickly. In this regard, Romain Ravenel has recently established services that may be provided through the drawings of James & Cie: artistic interventions, developing and setting up exhibitions for socio-cultural events and promoting events through written and visual medium. What was initially a virtual project is now creating bonds with the real world, making James & Cie an original, interactive, interesting, fun and challenging medium. Do not hesitate to call in these characters or their universe.

Translation : Julie Thielen

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