I expected a pamphlet, I discovered something even more interesting: an original voice, a real reflection on the vocation of an actor who has something universal when we are called, regardless of his identity, and a lot of humor.
From the first sentence, we smile, and it will not be the last time, nor the only surprise of Clark or the bear skin, by actor Martin-David Peters: “This book is dedicated to the actor from the Diverse actresses [CCiD] who seeks to grow in his art. Take what seems useful to you and leave the rest there. ”
Twice the word “born”, like a laborious birth, while Clark believes that others who are not of diversity are “born” of their mothers …
Clark or the bear skin is Peters’ fiction in the form of a false guidebook written by Clark, a CCiD pioneer who bears some resemblance to the author, but who is not his alter ego, he tells me. Martin-David Peters, 53, has been working as a comedian for more than 25 years; we saw it on tv in Brittle, Miscellaneous, Black sequence or Clash, rarely in a leading role and very little in variety shows, but he falls into this category of “diversity”, having been the child of a mother from Abitibi and a father of West Indian origin. This first exploded book, which mixes testimonies, advice, interviews, extracts from plays, was born from the notes taken when he was going to explain his profession in schools and that he addressed the importance of perseverance, he who has known a lot of hollow in his career, after leaving the Conservatory in 1994. “I didn’t feel like doing a theoretical essay,” he explains. I had the idea of a character who decides to write a book on the acting game dedicated to Diversity actresses, which is a little absurd because a comedian is an actor, period. There are no specific playing techniques for cultural communities! But by making this somewhat absurd attempt, he embarked on an inner journey. ”
Clark had his heyday playing Othello of Shakespeare (obviously) – a role Martin-David Peters never played in his life – and, unsurprisingly, didn’t work much afterwards. What is really nice about Clark is his down-to-earth side, which makes fun of the theatrical world, where, for example, we detect in his playing a “West Indian rhythm” (he only knows Quebec), when we do not believe that his good physical shape is a natural acquisition, while he sweats like everyone else to maintain it.
His advice is sometimes really basic and concise: Set yourself a goal, go for it and catch it, Don’t worry about the future, Be clear without being boring, If you have to choose, go for your face, Test your IQ … We are far from the Stanislavsky Method, let’s say.
But at Clark, the love of the profession is genuine. As a child, he arrived late to perform in a school play and had to take the aisle of the hall in full view of the public, which made him realize that he was already performing before he even joined. the show. As if the world were a permanent theater, but that by the magic of the scene, the glances on him, black child in a white world, were benevolent. Martin-David Peters experienced this too when he was a child in Trois-Pistoles. “We were possibly the only blacks in the early 1970s,” he explains. There was a look of curiosity, sure, but during this show there were smiles in people’s faces and, yes, it was benevolent. It marked me, that thing, long before I set foot on stage. I felt that there was a possibility for me, even though I was different from the majority, to be welcomed ”.
Still, the vocation was not spontaneous. He needed his mother, who slipped him a Conservatory brochure (the book is dedicated to him), a blonde who entered a theater school that he wanted to impress by joining her (Clark will experience the same thing with his Hélène), so that Martin-David Peters can truly embark on this path. I would say that it is more this vocation that Clark defends than diversity, which should be obvious, if we really want the term “universal” when we talk about art to have meaning. “In fact,” Peters notes, “there is a message in this book, that of avoiding confinement, and of putting people in a box. What does it entail, ” comedians and comedians from diversity ”? ”
Clark often repeats in his guide that “art doesn’t need diversity, art is self-sufficient.” “In a sense, theoretically, art doesn’t need diversity, you can make art with just about anything,” notes Martin-David Peters. But humanly, diversity needs art. It is important to think about artists who come from everywhere, who are sometimes second or third generation, for whom it is a need. We feel that for Clark, the theater is essential, it’s something that helps him to live. This is what I would like us to remember when we think of an actor; that often they feel it as a vocation. ”
Martin-David Peters has seen an improvement in recent years. It turns more, even in a pandemic, we will see it in the series Popular and After. ” I see a difference with my beginnings and today. I just finished filming Popular, which features young adults, I’m playing with this new generation that’s coming. They are there and they are good, I would say they are even better than me when I left the Conservatory. I see that there is a real effort to bring more diversity to our stages and our screens. It’s an extremely difficult job for everyone, but it was even more so for the actors of diversity. You can accept that it is difficult, but you also don’t want your appearance to play against you and to be automatically dismissed, because there, it becomes unlivable, it is almost no longer possible, and it cuts off all hope. . ”
Because it’s all very well the passion for the game, it should not lead to a field where everything is decided in advance. “Art is something very big and very rich,” believes Martin-David Peters. You shouldn’t be afraid to incorporate all kinds of different looks, bodies and voices into a show. As a creator, you don’t have to do it, it’s important to say it. But if you have antennas as an artist, in my opinion, you have to listen to what is around you if you want your art to be relevant. ”
Clark or the bear skin opens with the design of the famous Little Prince de Saint-Exupéry, in which there would be a sheep, with an extract also cited in English, Spanish, Creole and Latin. The drawing is that of the daughter of Martin-David Peters, while on the last page of the book, we find the canvas The new angel, by the painter Paul Klee, who opens his wings. This book is obviously not intended for Diverse actresses (CCiD). “It’s Clark who does that,” says Peters. But I, Martin-David, address myself to everyone. What I’m kind of saying to people is ‘strive for liberation’! ”