Exclusive interview with Aurélia Thierrée, Charlie Chaplin’s granddaughter
10 April, 2020
Exclusive interview with Aurélia Thierrée, Charlie Chaplin’s granddaughter
Aurélia Thierrée is the daughter of Victoria Chaplin and Jean-Baptiste Thierrée and the sister of James Thierrée. She is the granddaughter of Charlie Chaplin and Oona O'Neill. In October, 2019, Aurélia Thierrée performed in Tbilisi Marjanishvili theatre. Author of the performance and idea was Victoria Chaplin. Performance Vols de Nuits became one of the most beloved in Tbilisi.

Aurélia Thierrée gave an exclusive interview to Georgian Journal about her career and days she spent in Georgia.

And let’s begin our interview
with “Bells and Spells”, what do you feel when you are playing, and what you would like to tell public with your character? What is more important to humans - a life that we live in or the dreams we have?

Every night before the show I empty my mind and just jump in. It is a gamble I love. No matter how many rehearsals, shows, run-throughs, etc: so many things can go wrong, props may break, we may break, the audience’s attention may break. It’s all very fragile.

When I approach a character, especially in Victoria’s shows, I do so in an instinctual, non-intellectual way. My body knows before my mind. I let it lead the way. I can read or watch films and images and listen to music she sends, do research at night, it’s the body that knows first in rehearsals. Hopefully the mind catches up.

I find it better to say as little as possible about the show or my character in it, so as not to dictate anything, to leave it up to the person watching.

But I will say this: A Kleptomaniac woman with a mysterious past, a sort of Mata Hari,( Victoria suggested) as a starting point. What is more important, reality or dreams? Both. We need dreams to figure out reality. And vice versa. I‘ve lived a lot of my life in dreams.

I think Freedom begins in the imagination. It is where possibilities are born. Plus you have to let the mind run free from time to time or else It gets tangled in dark repetitive thoughts. It suffocates. And one way is to dream away.

I hope watching our show gives one an opportunity for their mind to run free, to go to unexpected, refreshing places.

Dear Aurélia you began performing at age 4 in the circus, but then how the scenery of your acting career developed, please tell us.

I was born on the road. The first time I went on stage I was three years old. I was supposed to appear in a box but I fell asleep in it. When I woke up the stage lights were warm and the audience I could perceive behind the lights, was welcoming and protective. It was a nice feeling. Like being in front of a fire when you are cold.

I went on to being in a suitcase with only my legs coming out until I was too big to fit in the suitcase. Then I was promoted to being a little beast, after that an insect, and finally wearing a dress that became a monster.

I think our parents put us on stage to keep an eye on us so that we’d all stay together. They taught us discipline and work. And at the same time, a sense of fun.

In general, I’d say that being around passionate people teaches you no matter what because It’s an addictive energy. At adolescence I started craving new adventures and new adventures meant the opposite: I wanted to go to school, live in a house, be around kids of my age. So I stopped touring for some years.

Eventually, I started missing the scents of a Theater, the wood, the fabrics, the dressing rooms. I missed my family too. Viscerally. So I circled back. When I started working with Victoria as an adult, we worked on one act at a time, just the two of us at first, and we would get very excited. Then I started presenting the acts in variety shows, etc. And they worked immediately.

The first act we worked on was the chest of drawers. I remember the first time I got inside the chest of drawers, I had a strong deja vu feeling and I thought: Okay, I am home….

It took one year, between other work and tours, to put “Aurelia’s Oratorio” ( our first show) together. It toured internationally for 8 years! "Murmures des murs” our second show, was a bigger production and went on tours for 7 years. Bells and Spells is our third show. Fingers crossed.

What kind of experience do actress have after acting in a circus, I feel that there can’t be any kind of difficulties on stage for you, I mean that watching at you I was watching magic in front of me and I was wondering how you did that tricks (I was sitting in the front raw).

Thank you!

I feel that I am like a detective. An emotional detective. It’s organized chaos a lot of the time.

I use everything, I watch others, I learn from them, and then I find ways to make it personal. But I never stop learning. And then before the show, I try to go blank, to be a vector. I learned from my family of course, from Victoria.

For example, I had to learn how to work with the props she made, each prop is different. I had to tame them. Tame the technical aspect as much as possible, as if it was a wild animal. Props are very unpredictable!

And for the dances: My partner on stage, Jaime Martinez, is a wonderful, professional dancer and performer. He counts, for instance, and I don’t. So, since I don’t have any training in dance, only in trapeze, I had to learn his language. “When he would say: it’s on “six, seven eight”, I wouldn’t understand at first, then I’d know what he meant, what moment he would be talking about, but in a different way.

I’ve worked almost exclusively with family but I have been part of other shows, traditional plays, a few films, even an Opera last year. It is a lot about trust. I am obsessed with rhythm though. Truth sometimes hides in rhythm. How to decipher it.

It’s a mysterious process, a mix of technicality and mystery. Victoria's work is thought-provoking too, that’s what I love about it. It looks very straight forward: optical illusions, magic, dance, tricks, it is a group of us working together on stage. But then there is another side to it.

You have an Idol? Who?

I have many idols. Some not famous at all. A lot of people I look up to, that are inspirations. How people figure out their lives. I think it takes creativity to stay alive. My idols are passionate explorers, no matter the amount of experience or success they have. And their fire is often doubled with humility, humanity. Curiosity. Paradoxes. At the moment who is my idol? Jane Goodall.

I can’t pass this chance without asking you about your Grandfather. I, as the whole world adore Charlie. Your grandparents Charlie and Oona had an amazing love story, their love story inspired many others. I would like to ask you about Charlie as a grandfather who lives in your memories.

It’s a beautiful thing to have him as a Grandfather. It’s magical, surreal…And we are a big family too. My memories are a mix of images we have all seen in documentaries about him, stories my mother or family told me, and his films. I love his films, like many other people. He belongs to his audiences more than to his family in a way. That’s the beauty of artists of his caliber. Their art brings us together.

At the end of our interview, please tell me about your impressions about Tbilisi, Georgia and Georgian audience?

I loved Tbilisi. It was a short stay, but one that will stay with me. The monastery, the cobblestone streets, eating traditional dishes under a tree in a small restaurant nearby. The beauty of the city, its life force. The warmth and enthusiasm of the audience. Funny how memory works. How a street corner, a view, someone’s expression or energy, or words suddenly become a part of you somehow. We must carry bits of the cities we have visited and vice versa. I hope so. “Murmures des murs” our second show, was all about the memories of walls. Cities. Rooms. Individuals etc. Memory is a fascinating subject. I hope we come back.

P.S. As we all are under quarantine, because or COVID-19, maybe there is something you would like you to say to your fans?

Travel, travel away with your mind while confined. Let it surprise you with memories you thought you’d forgotten, with longings and fears and desires and questions. And just be. It’s a different pace. Keep your strength and spirit. Stay safe. Stay healthy and strong and hopeful. It’s the irony of our current situation: if you want to protect the ones you love, stay confined and get your immune system strong. Our world will be different when we get out.

Nino Tsipuria

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