Friday, October 8, 2010

Coup de théâtre...

Soooo, today I am on a bit of a high from last night's theater workshop.  Three hours of theatrical play--the first hour consisted of warm-ups and introductions.  We had to walk around the room as if we were in a cemetery, then pay our respects to the person we had lost.  Too morbid you say?  Five minutes later, we had to pretend we were on the beaches of Bali, after a night out on the town... We could interact with other folks as much or as little as we wanted.  After we were warmed up, dans le bain, si vous voulez, we were put into six groups of five.  We were given some sheets of paper with elements that we had to incorporate in our scene.  My group had an article about firemen selling a sexy calendar to benefit children with cancer, a sheet with horoscopes, and an ad for a live chat phone number for gays. We had to incorporate at least one element from each sheet of paper.  So our scene?  Three girls giggling at home, reading their horoscopes... two gay firemen come to the door, acting as if there was a fire... in reality--they were selling their calendar.  The scene ended when we decided to go grab a drink somewhere.  Not exactly Shakespeare--but THERE WAS NO SCRIPT.

Before we performed, we watched everyone else do so... there were some really good scenes and some not so good ones.  But it was amazing to see everyone think on their feet and try to let go of their inhibitions.  Improv in English always interested me, but there's something about doing it in French--I just know I'll make progress in the language this way, even if I make a fool of myself in the process.  And since there's already the risk of making a fool of myself linguistically, I think I'll feel a bit freer to do so when it comes to the acting part as well.

So--the best part: after we performed the director says... Alright!  I have found my heroine for the next game we're going to play, a large group improvisation.  And he was talking about ME.  He says to me, You're going to play the role of Doris Leuthard (WHO? I thought to myself... no idea who that is).  He could tell I had no idea, and said, don't worry, not important, here's who she is: the president of the German part of Switzerland.  Anyway, the scenario was this: I was coming to give a speech to a crowd of people who were pissed off about legislation passed on insurance/unemployment benefits.  Journalists were there to pose questions, as well as angry citizens.  I had to calm them down, and say nothing that might set them off... although inevitably, I would-someone would throw a pie at me, and my security guards would have to take me away. 

Sure!  No problem.  A cake walk. :)  Having NO background on this stuff, it was hard to improvise my way through it, but I did--I tried to be a regal presidential type, turning the crowd's questions back on them, just as any good politician would.  Not an Oscar-worthy performance, but not a completely failed attempt either.  The worst part?  When I'm nervous, my accent and grammar kinda go down the tubes.  Hopefully doing this more often will make those problems become less pronounced.  I'm definitely thinking I will learn some new vocabulary. 

The challenging part--LOTS of people want to participate (around 35?), and only 20 people were admitted.  I had enjoyed myself so much, and I knew I was on the waiting list.  After the workshop, I learned that the director is doing a performance of Cahier d'un retour au pays natal in the next two weeks (for those of you who don't know, that is one of my all-time favorite books by Aimé Césaire... I just knew I was in the right place!).  So, when I got home, I wrote the director--not to harass him about letting me in, but just to say how much I really enjoyed it, and I hoped a spot might come open for me.  He wrote back and said--I was thinking about you, you're in.  You were great.  See you next week. :)  YAAAAAAAY!  Oh dear... that means I have to do this again....   MERDE!  (in both senses of the word... that's what you say in French in theater--it's like "Break a leg!").


  1. IMPROV! If you make it big, I hope you give a shout-out to IT in your french-language bio. :)

  2. Of COURSE, Martin :) Goes without saying... This whole improv thing is SO FUN. I should've jumped on the bandwagon sooner.