performing arts Rochefort

Playing History/

Playing History


Louise Howlett, the Australian laureate of the 2021 edition of the Odyssée residency programme, was welcomed to La Corderie Royale in Rochefort in May 2023 to work on her immersive performance project Secret of the Raft.

The project is being developed by ReAction Theatre, of which Louise Howlett is artistic director. It is a bilingual French/English production aimed at young audiences. It uses 3D projection to bring Géricault's iconic painting The Raft of the Medusa to life. The initial intention was to create a performance that would bring the painting to life through the use of 3D projection, installations and interactive audience participation.

As the research progressed, the company discovered that one of the 150 men on the raft was a woman. This story had never been told before. Telling her story became one of the aims of the show, giving a voice to those whom history often forgets.

Following her Odyssée residency, Louise Howlett was interviewed by Matilda Marseillaise for her blog. The interview was an opportunity for the artist to reflect on her experience as a resident. The exchange "not only details the preparations and work carried out for Secret of the Raft prior to the residency, but also delves into the extraordinary experience of being in Rochefort. It highlights the valuable connections and invaluable learning experiences that took place during this time."

"There are several elements to the residency. Firstly, it provides a dedicated time and space to immerse myself in my artistic practice, focusing on research, creation and experimentation. In addition, the residency facilitates interactions and collaborations with local artists, cultural organisations and experts in the field."

"During my month in Rochefort, I had the incredible opportunity to engage in a variety of activities. The residency included extensive research in the archives of the Service historique de la Défense under the guidance of Marie Chouleur, where I delved into authentic documents such as the logbook of the Méduse, examined a survivor's naval uniform and viewed engravings from when the port was in its heyday."

"Overall, this residency provides an invaluable opportunity for artistic development, cultural immersion and collaboration with local artists and organisations. I thank the ACCR and Centre International de la Mer - La Corderie Royale for their support and for making this rewarding experience possible."

"As for how I found out about this opportunity, I discovered the ACCR residency programmes by doing my research on the Internet. The ACCR has a well-established reputation for supporting artists, encouraging cultural exchange and promoting artistic development."

We invite you to visit Matilda Marseillaise's website to read the interview in full and find out more about the artist's residency journey.

The project continues:
In 2023, Secret of the Raft has been selected as one of eight projects nationally by Creative Australia, Australia's leading national arts organisation, to receive expert mentoring through the Createch programme. Also in November, Louise Howlett presented the project at the Communicating the Arts Conference in Singapore.