Robert Cantarella, course director, Master of Arts in Theatre with an emphasis on directing
‘The very first time I travelled between the railway station in Lausanne and the Manufacture, I had a deep sense of a rare and precious alignment of nature and culture.’
Why did you choose to practise in Lausanne?
RC | My decision to teach in Lausanne is based on a personal encounter with Frédéric Plazy, the director of the Manufacture. He initially asked me to take part in some workshops. As I gradually became familiar with the many distinctive features of this school and the expertise of everyone involved, it convinced me to choose to be based at the Manufacture in order to practise a profession that I love – teaching – and a form of art that I love – the theatre.
What were your first impressions when you arrived in Lausanne?
RC | The very first time I travelled between the railway station in Lausanne and the Manufacture, I had a deep sense of a rare and precious alignment of nature and culture. The co-existence of urban and rural landscapes, of smells and perspectives composed by nature seemed strangely obvious to me. Then images of films surfaced from my memory - but that's another story.
If you had to define the study environment in Lausanne in just three words, what would they be?
RC | Joyful, serious, respectful.
Can you tell us about your career before taking up your teaching post?
RC | A course in advanced mathematics, which gave no indication as to the course my life would take, then the Beaux-Arts in Marseilles, meeting and training with Antoine Vitez, discovery of contemporary writing – Lagarce, Loher, Mayenburg, Minyana, Renaude, Vinaver – direction of classic and contemporary pieces, formation of a company of actors, heading up a National Drama Centre, creation of a production venue, cinema, documentaries, writing and, finally, launch of a review devoted to the stage. All of this, everywhere, all the time, with the need for transmission.
What do you consider to be key features of the education within your branch of study in Lausanne?
RC | Teaching theatre direction is a recent strand of study. It took some time to realise that this is an art and a profession, because the title of theatre director was only officially recognised just over a century ago. So the characteristic feature of this course is the fact that it is still flexible enough to be formulated according to culture, territory, language.
Can you tell us about any memorable events you have experienced during your career as a teacher in Lausanne?
RC | The first meeting, in a workshop, with six young trainee directors. The sensation of collective energy produced by research students at the time of an apprenticeship.
What do you get out of your work as a teacher?
RC | Endless, insatiable questioning regarding the forms taken by temporary communities, with students, around my passion for the theatre and its forms. Always learning, in other words.
What is your fondest memory of Lausanne?
RC | The end of a training session last autumn, with the playwright Michel Vinaver. We were both waiting for the number 12 bus when a sudden, violent storm forced us to take shelter. As often happens in situations such as these, we had a deep - and for me unforgettable - conversation.
Interview conducted by | Tom Crawford