New Works Creation
Uncommon Clay Conceiver, Director & Choreographer

Conceiver, Director & Choreographer:Jeanine Thompson
Assistant Director:J. Briggs Cormier
Script:Ensemble and Jennifer Schlueter
Scenic Designer:Dan Gray
Costume Designer:Tatjana Longerot
Lighting Designer:Kristopher D. Jones
Sound Designer:Katie Whitlock
Technical Director:Mark Shanda
Young Camille ClaudelAllyson Rosen
Maiden CamilleEleni Papaleonardos
Matron CamilleAngeles Romero
Crone CamilleNaomi Hatsfelt
Current CamilleChristina Sidebottom
Sculptor CamilleKathleen Gonzales
Paul ClaudelJeremy Meier
Auguste RodinKenderick Hardy
Rose BeuretJennifer Manvich
Louise ClaudelSara Borgeson
Ensemble roles:Mark Bernhardt, Heather Burley, Dean Evans, Laurel Jackson, Allyson Morgan, Joey Schultz, Colin Sweet and Sarah Uetrecht
Vocal Coach:Maureen Ryan
Gestural Language:Sculpture by Camille Claudel and Auguste Rodin
Script Primary Resource:Letters written by Camille Claudel

  Venue and Dates:
Ohio State University, Department of Theatre, Drake Performance Center, Columbus, OH
 Devising process2000 – 2001
Uncommon Clay is a 90-minute movement theatre play about the life and work of the French sculptor, Camille Claudel. It was collaboratively created through a year-long devising process with the ensemble and production team. The physical aspects of sculpture were explored and expressed by the ensemble through movement and mime. Letters that Camille wrote while in the asylum, became the text of the script. The characters in the story include six actors portraying Camille Claudel at different stages of her life, her brother Paul Claudel, her sister Louise Claudel, Auguste Rodin, and Rodin’s common-law wife Rose Beuret.

Camille Claudel was the student, model, muse and lover of Auguste Rodin, famous for his great works The Thinker, The Gates of Hell and the Burgers of Calais. Camille became a great sculptor of her own work, experienced deep tragedy, and was institutionalized for the last 30 years of her life.

In 1985, Jeanine went to Rodin’s museum in Paris, France, where Rodin had dedicated a wing to show the works of Camille Claudel. Jeanine’s interest in seeing the depth of human expression in Rodin’s work is what drew her to the museum. Seeing the sculptures of Camille Claudel literally stopped her in her tracks. Jeanine was deeply moved by the range of humanity that Camille sculpted – the beautiful and the desperate, that strong and the weak, the steadfast and the tempest-tossed. Camille was able to bring the stone to life, to make it breathe; she captured the essence of each person’s soul in one whole body gesture.

As a result, Jeanine became intrigued with creating a performance work using the physical aspects of sculpture; and her strong desire to tell the story of Camille, fueled the creation of Uncommon Clay. Camille had survived a great deal as a woman and artist. She was seen as a threat, and ultimately was silenced by her family and society. Jeanine believed that Camille must have come to some sense of resolution in order to survive within an asylum for the last thirty years of her life. Perhaps some of that resolution came from knowing her creations would survive for many years beyond her life.

In 2000, the OSU Department of Theatre received an Academic Enrichment Grant from the OSU Office of Academic Affairs to further develop its much praised, and now nationally recognized, New Works Initiative. The title of the successful grant was “Performance in the 21st Century: A New Works Laboratory”. Through this initiative, Uncommon Clay was the first production led by a faculty member and devised by students.
"I was deeply moved by "Uncommon Clay". I was touched by your concept of form, distance, group movement, moldings relating to Rodin's work, through the vision of Camille Claudel, and also her own work. The end is beautiful! You know how to fix (create and hold) the essence of feeling in group movement."
  --  Marcel Marceau
“The Ohio State University Theatre Department mounts an unconventional piece of stunning theatricality. “Uncommon Clay” is a work designed and directed by faculty member Jeanine Thompson. Trained in dance, she has created a piece of theater grounded in movement and spectacle. She has also taken theater students and taught them to move like dancers. “Clay” involves the life of the 19th century sculptor Camille Claudel. In an unconventional manner, it traces through word and movement her development as an artist, collaboration and love affair with Auguste Rodin, and the emotional unsettledness that led to her institutionalization. Thompson effectively swings our moods. She leads us from the exuberance of youth, to the artist in full bloom, to the deadening chill of the asylum... Check out how actually wrapping a woman in a cloth can be sensual. Or the clever way in which small children are depicted. Or how several people can personify a mound of clay. The deliberate pacing may lull some. But this is a fluidly moving and creative piece filled with striking creative touches and visual surprises.”
  --  Dennis Thompson THE BOOSTER
Photography by: Douglas Moody