Rencontre avec Michael Hirsch, le nouveau Devos

Meeting with Michael Hirsch, the new Devos

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Michael Hirsch, with a few wild corns on his head and the laughing look of a page, is an actor. At 33, he has to his credit two “alone on stage” numbers presented in Paris at the very renowned Avignon Festival, as well as a handful of roles in plays written by others. Michaël Hirsch plays characters who have wit and know how to dress, especially when it comes to being elegant indoors, like the famous Isidore Beaupieu, superstar of the already highly acclaimed Je pionce, ça je suis . While he spends his confinement reading, live for the public on his social networks, entire books like the very strong Magellan by Stefan Zweig, Michaël Hirsch told us on the phone what he likes in clothing. At the end of this reading, you will perhaps put on a dressing gown (don't look, we don't offer one!). It's in season.

In what way do clothes prove to be strategic elements when appearing on stage?

When I was in theater school, people talked to me a lot about the famous Robert Hirsch. He was a dancer and an actor. The first thing he did before starting to work on a role was to find the things that would suit the role best. Robert Hirsch believed that the way one feels the ground guides absolutely everything in the approach to a character. This is what we were told at theater school and, at the time, it had a big impact on me. This story resonated with me, and it still does today.

When I wear sneakers on stage I feel different, I'm not the same as when I put on dress shoes. The feeling I have about myself is different. Shoes reveal my characters. More generally, clothes are like my character's skin. In fact, it's strategic and even better, it's an essential element for my approach to the game. And then it's also my way of presenting myself to the world. I know that in the eyes of the spectators, it is important for what it tells them about one character in relation to another.

In your latest show, I pionce, therefore I am, presented at the Lucernaire in Paris, you play twenty-two characters at a time and you almost never change your costume. How did you think about this aspect of your work?

The idea was to find a costume that would allow me to play all these characters in one, like a chameleon. So we had to find something fairly neutral. This was one of the most difficult points when putting the show on stage. I had to have something that looked like pajamas. With my costume designer, we chose a simple t-shirt and chinos made from a soft material, all in gray, with light shoes that could look like slippers.

(...) the clothes are like my character's skin. In fact, it's strategic and even better, it's an essential element for my approach to the game. And then it's also my way of presenting myself to the world.

The problem is that I had absolutely no idea how intense it would be to perform this show. At the end of the first one, I found myself sweating. In swimming and gray. Let's say it was visible. There were sweat marks all over my suit. We absolutely had to find another outfit before playing the second performance. So we switched to a black outfit, the jacket and pants of which were tailor-made so that they fit my body perfectly on stage.

Many cons appear in front of their audience in a jacket and t-shirt , as if this combo had become the regulatory outfit of the profession...

For stand-up people, you need some sort of everyday costume, and even everyday clothing. It's an aesthetic that should make you believe that it's something habitual, innate, as if you were arriving on stage naturally, from the bar next door, and that that was enough. As if there was no difference between the city and the stage. Many cons wear a jacket and a t-shirt, to tell the audience that they made an effort, but at the same time that they are cool, relaxed. This is how I was dressed for my first show.

In I pionce therefore I am, a show which praises sleep and laziness, you present the dressing gown as a “ceremonial outfit”. You can be lazy and elegant, do you think?

My character, Isidore Beaupieu, embodies a bit of my previous life. He's a guy who works in a big company, who gets up at dawn every morning to go and be tortured by a very manipulative boss, taking it upon himself because that's how life is and no other way, he says to him. And then one day, Isidore Beaupieu falls asleep in the middle of a meeting. He gives up.

In an age where we constantly feel like we're chasing time, I feel like sleep, rest, is like a revolutionary act. Therefore, the clothing that goes with it is an element that should not be taken lightly. The dressing gown is serious. I think it's a piece of clothing that we've too often neglected and forgotten, but which is really cool. I'm thinking of this kind of interior dress that we could see on the shoulders of guys like Sacha Gitry, for example. With a dressing gown, you feel well dressed even in your pajamas. My ideal dressing gown is made of silk, with a slightly old-fashioned print, reminiscent of the pattern on an Hermès scarf. It must have a drape that says I am an artist with my whole body.

Do you ever dress up in, well, eccentric ways?

At the Avignon Festival, we do everything we can to ensure that the public comes to see our shows. Every year, I have a costume made to attract the attention of people in the street. Once, I walked around with a large polystyrene question mark, scratched to a t-shirt, with my head poking through the curvature of the thing. I was all in turquoise blue. In a case like this, it is obvious that we put aside everything that concerns the ego.

In an age where we constantly feel like we're chasing time, I feel like sleep, rest, is like a revolutionary act.

During the last festival, for the presentation of I pionce, therefore I am, I was in a dressing gown in the street with a backpack shaped like a pillow. It was a pillow with two straps, with an opening to stuff things in. The aesthetic of the wanker like no other, a comic strip character like Gaston Lagaffe. People hallucinated the way you might hallucinate if you woke up after years of coma and discovered in the street all these people in masks waiting in line to buy pasta because of confinement.

The Avignon Festival is the event which brings together every year all the people in the theater, and the world of the stage in general, in France. Enough to find a lot of special looks there, right?

We must not forget that the Avignon Festival is a fair. With its share of fair animals. We are all fairground animals in Avignon. So there is the drama school student. His name is Boris and he has long hair. He has been reading Chekhov all year and is convinced that Anya in The Cherry Orchard is the central character of his entire work. He is dressed in velvet clothing, with a scarf to protect his speech apparatus. Not far from Boris, we find the famous bola players, the circus people who, more or less, correspond to the image we can have of intermittent entertainers. The comparison is quite simple: what makes the difference between the intermittent performer and the dog punk is the dog.

In Avignon, there are of course very serious actors. People who cannot stand, at least for their artistic soul, the fact that there are too many people in the streets of the city for the festival. Too painful for them. There, all sartorial fantasies are imaginable. A turtleneck sweater despite the month of August, for example. And then there are the theater programmers. We notice them. For them, because it's summer, linen is a priority. Linen everywhere. It has to yawn. Birkenstocks on your feet and, often, a little lack of deodorant, almost claimed. The guys see six shows a day, they don't want to bother. They mark their territory.