“Great Artists Steal”

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“Great Artists Steal” by Seamus Collins

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« […] le verbe lui-même doit être tendu jusqu’à ses limites ultimes, le langage doit presque exploser, ou se détruire, dans son impossibilité de contenir les significations. »
Eugène Ionesco

A penny for your thoughts? Theatraverse presents Great Artists Steal, a bilingual play by Belfast’s Seamus Collins. With a comic touch this absurd play uses language to examine the nature of invention and originality. World famous inventor, The Man, waits with his wife, The Woman, for the arrival of his newest apprentice. The Younger Man brings with him a strange language and an even stranger new idea. Life has a funny way of repeating itself…

Great Artists Steal balances several themes, ranging from the ennui of daily life and the challenges of marriage, to the abominable crimes committed for the sake of acclaim. Collins presents us with a 21st century theatre of the absurd: horrors rendered banal, language in deconstruction and cyclical plots are all key ingredients, and will be familiar to connoisseurs of Ionesco and Beckett. In Collins’s play, however, we have a modern, even post-modern, setting.
Trickery and theft thrive in a bleak ambiance, where the grave becomes banal and where thoughts are worth so much more than the penny idiom would have us pay.
There is a direct link between the choice of play and Theatraverse’s company philosophy. Our company pays particular attention to words, to their role in communication both on and off-stage. In choosing to mix French and English, Seamus Collins joins the members of Theatraverse in playing with the two languages side-by-side in this absurd piece of new writing.



The Younger Man




Cédric discovered Theatre when he was seventeen while taking part in a two-year research Theatre Lab, organized by Ludwik Flaszen, a close collaborator of Grotowski, and Monika Pagneux, a renowned Jacques Lecoq teacher.

Headshot Cedric Merillon

In 2004, he co-founded Théâtre la Boutonnière in Paris, which focused on new writing and devised theatre. Here, he was assistant director on numerous productions with the theatre’s company in residence GCT (Groupe de Création Théâtrale). During this time he

became interested in creating new forms of theatre, and facilitated and participated in several workshops.

Cédric went on to train at Jacques Lecoq Theatre school in Paris in 2008, from which he graduated in 2010. Directly after, he completed a Masters in physical theatre, at Saint Mary's University College in Twickenham. Here, during this period of study he acted in numerous plays, and learned to love acting in English.

After leaving England, Cédric was involved in several shows, which afforded him the opportunity to travel extensively to countries such as Portugal (As Loud as Silence), Scotland and Northern Ireland (Rhinocéros), Senegal (Gamblers) and South Korea (Rêve du Papillon).

In 2012, Cédric moved to Cork where he has since performed in Cleansed (Irish première, Granary Theatre, Cork), Dradin, In Love (Galway Festival; Granary Theatre, Cork), and Bug (Half Moon Theatre, Cork).

Cédric has been a member of Theatraverse since 2011, and performed the bilingual role of Dudard in Rhinocéros. He also leads theatre workshops with the company, specialising in sessions for teenagers and adults.

The Man




Born in Amsterdam to an Indian father and a Dutch mother, Siva was brought up mainly in France, where he studied and worked in a variety of fields – including naval carpentry, IT, international commerce, and translation for NGOs – before beginning his onstage career.
After training for a number of years in the Paris region, Siva became a professional actor in 2002. With the Théâtre du Voyageur, he has played a wide range of roles in a dozen different plays, ranging from Shakespeare to devised plays inspired by non-theatrical texts.
As Siva’s career has progressed, he has been drawn to new challenges. He performed at Aurillac’s street theatre festival with Cie Grain d’ArtGile, and at Avignon summer festival with Cie Naphralytep.

With Theatraverse, Siva often performs in English: he played Jean in the bilingual adaptation of Rhinoceros, and The Man in Great Artists Steal, both of which were played at Edinburgh Festival. Siva develops and leads bilingual theatre workshops for children and young people, as well as for adults with Theatraverse.

The Woman




Mélanie began her performance training when she was fifteen, at the Ecole Nationale de Cirque in Châtellerault (France). During her three years there, her time with Roser Seguar and Isona Dodero encouraged her to focus on clown work. Meanwhile, she continued to develop her skills in dance, capoeira and circus performance.

Mélanie's interest in languages led to performances in Spanish (Les Anacroniques, Toulouse) and English (Fairground Theatre, Bristol). After two years spent in England, during which time she worked on a number of productions - including the devised performance of The Red Man (Tobacco Factory, Bristol, 2008) - Mélanie returned to France to complete two years of further training at the International Theatre School Jacques Lecoq.

Since graduating from the Lecoq school, she has been involved in the creation of 38, International Theatre Company, and has worked briefly with Teatr Piesn Kosna/Song of the Goat, in Poland. She is also part of Les Désaxés du Mambo, a clown project. She has recently been working on 38's latest production, an adaptation of Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov, which was played at the 2012 edition of Théâtre du Soleil’s Festival des Premiers Pas. Melanie recently participated in a workshop with Complicite in London.

Mélanie performs in both French and English in Theatraverse’s Rhinoceros, in the role of Daisy. With Theatraverse she leads bilingual theatre workshops for all age groups.


Joanne ALLAN

Joanne ALLAN


Joanne is a theatre director and actor who trained at l’Ecole Internationale de Théâtre Jacques Lecoq in Paris. She is particularly attentive to the role of language in onstage communication and specialises in Theatre of the Absurd. Joanne, originally from Aberdeenshire in Scotland, graduated in 2006 from Queen's University, Belfast with a joint honours degree in Drama and French. In 2005 she directed her first piece of bilingual theatre at the university: La Leçon (The Lesson) by Eugène Ionesco.

Joanne is one of the founding members of Theatraverse. Since the company’s creation in 2008, Joanne has directed and accompanied four bilingual productions on tour: Lost in Scotland, a devised play inspired by Isabelle Gilbert’s book of the same title; Rhinocéros, a bilingual adaptation of Ionesco’s original; Great Artists Steal and Monsieur Somebody, both by Seamus Collins.

The plays she has directed have toured in the UK and France, and are accompanied by bilingual theatre workshops. Joanne creates and leads bilingual theatre workshops and training days for children, young people, and adults. She also gives talks and leads discussions about bilingual theatre in the context of interviews and conferences.

Outwith Theatraverse, Joanne works as an actor and director for Cie Grain d’ArtGile in Amiens, and Theatre du Voyageur in the Paris region.

Written by




Seamus has written plays for Belfast theatre companies Tinderbox and Chatterbox. Following his participation in the Fireworks programme for young writers, organised by Tinderbox, Seamus was asked to write Swing State Cabaret and Home Truths, both of which were performed at the prestigious MAC Theatre, Belfast. Four of Seamus’ plays have been performed at Edinburgh’s Fringe Festival, including Great Artists Steal, performed by Theatraverse.

Seamus has a Masters degree in Creative Writing from Queen's University, Belfast, and has been closely mentored by Owen McCafferty for several years. He is currently writing a play for the Lyric Theatre as part of their “New Playwrights Programme”. The first reading of his most recent play was directed by Des Kennedy in October 2017.

Recently chosen as one of 30 playwright’s for Fishamble’s “A Play for Ireland”, Seamus has also been selected for BBC NI’s new “Northern Irish Voices” scheme.

“Great Artists Steal” is supported by an international team of professionals, often volunteers

  • Marketing : Hamish Davey Wright
  • Video and photography : Pierre Joly
  • Graphic design : Bénédicte Pérreira do Lago

In the press

« Great Artists Steal est une surprenante comédie absurde, bourrée d’originalités qui rendent le spectacle vraiment assez merveilleux.»

« […] Il y a du génie chez l’écrivain Seamus Collins. Il dépouille la langue anglaise pour la renvoyer à ses bases les plus élémentaires (“I eye hurts still”, “What time be it?”) et cela, tout en gardant le français facilement compréhensible pour que le public ne perde jamais le fil de l’histoire. »

« Vous ne pouvez pas vous empêcher d’être attiré dans leur univers à la fois sombre et grotesque, où le meurtre est une chose assez banale alors que l’amour, lui, se révèle être bien plus compliqué. »

The Stage

« C’est une partition bizarre et rafraîchissante déconstruisant les conventions théâtrales pour notre plus grand plaisir. »

« La performance est vivante, étrange et incroyablement précise. Le texte nous est délivré de façon impressionnante, mais c’est la physicalité de la mise en scène et des acteurs qui attire le plus notre attention. »

« Si le langage est une fenêtre sur la pensée, alors celle-ci est un tas de verre brisé, dangereuse mais étrangement belle. […] Les ombres de Beckett et Ionesco planent au-dessus de cette pièce. »

Broadway Baby

« […] La pièce prend place dans un monde habilement conçu et réalisé. C’est une compagnie que je voudrais revoir. »

Fringe Review

« Dans la tradition classique de l’absurde, c’est à travers un curieux prisme que les comportements humains se retrouvent disséqués. Dans cette pièce nous reconnaissons aisément les aspects de la fierté masculine, des compromis du mariage, de l’amour et de la jalousie, ou encore de la propriété intellectuelle comme l’invention – ou plutôt, la réinvention, de la roue. La cruauté et le meurtre figurent dans cette représentation d’un éternel cycle de vie insatisfaisant, affirmé par le dernier coup à la porte. Tout cela est réalisé avec une étonnante gymnastique linguistique entre l’anglais et le français. C’est ce que doit être le théâtre de l’absurde d’aujourd’hui. »

Edinburgh Guide

« C’est un spectacle étrange, physiquement impressionnant et facile à comprendre même si vous ne parlez pas le français. » « […] terriblement drôle. »

« Intelligemment écrit par Seamus Collins et astucieusement dirigé par Joanne Allan, c’est une incursion ludique, créative et perspicace dans, entre autres, le monde de l’invention, de l’art et du sexisme. »

Edinburgh Spotlight

« […] dans l’esprit de Beckett avec une pointe d’humour. »

« Ce casting d’acteurs bilingues est énergique, physiquement engagé et très précis. »

« C’est une production de qualité réalisée avec finesse et une touche de bizarrerie. Seamus Collins, l’auteur de la pièce, s’est amusé à faire régresser le langage de manière très habile. Les acteurs sont exceptionnels et la mise en scène de Joanne Allan dynamique et élégante.»

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