Cyrano de Bergerac – Theatre In Paris
There is only so much you can fit into one weekend – especially in a City like Paris. What we lack in sunshine and beaches, we can certainly make up for in culture and the arts. However, be warned, it is easy to fill a long weekend with great events and find yourself planning for the next trip in the process.
Here in the City of lights, going to the theatre is a long-standing activity much enjoyed by Parisians. In fact there is a recovered roman amphitheater, Arène de Lutèce, in the 5th Arrondissement, that dates back 2000 years – it often gets missed by our visitors but if you’re in the area it is well worth a viewing.
The theatre here is not accessible to all however, as the plays are often in French and the Parisian theatre world is a tough one, for the English-speaking world, to crack. It took Olivier Giraud a long time of knocking on theatre doors before he persuaded a theatre to put on his 1 man show ‘How to become a Parisian in one hour’ and the reason for that was that it was in English.
The company, Theatre In Paris, have managed to bridge that gap between French theatre and English speakers with the help of Theatre Michel by showing classic French plays and the English subtitles along with it.
We went along to the show not entirely sure what to expect. When we arrived at Theatre Michel we found a large crowed pressing at the theatre doors and both English and French voices filling the air. After showing our tickets and receiving a little welcome pack a gentleman addressed the crowed introducing himself as Carl De Poncins asking the English speakers to follow him up to the balcony.
The theatre we walked into was so pretty – small but a perfectly formed mix of gold and red.
The play we were seeing is called ‘Cyrano de Bergerac’ by Edmond Rostand. You may be familiar with tone of its many movie adaptations – the first film in English was made in 1950 and in 1987 the Film Roxanne was based on the story. A French version of the play was made in 1990 with Gérard Depardieu playing the main character – he was nominated for an Oscar for his performance.
Carl then explained to us a little about the story and that it is one of the most famous plays in France and it is so important to the French because it symbolises how the French like to see themselves ‘very courageous but at the same time very shy, a bit arrogant sometimes but at the same time with a big heart’ and very romantic.
The original version of the story was written in 1896 and set in the 18th century. We felt so pleased and privileged to have this opportunity to see it. What made this production particularly special was the director, Jean-Philippe Daguerre, had gained access to music that and was written by Edmon Rostand and his friends and had never before been published. The music was played by a solo violinist, who acted as the main character’s shadow. The shadow and his violin expressed his emotions through the violin scores, which have not been heard for 120 years. The performances were superb and we felt transfixed.
What I liked most about the evening was the direct connection I felt with French culture and insight it gave me into their view of themselves. I felt I was peaking behind a curtain even though in this case those curtains were being opened and I was being welcomed.
A truly unique experience, to go and enjoy the theatre just like a local, alongside locals. Not something many of us visiting Brits get the opportunity to experience in Paris.
Cyrano de Bergerac is to be shown again and we will keep you up to date on upcoming performances so that if you are here in Paris you can take the opportunity to go. This is the perfect example of the sort of off the beaten track experience we love to offer to our clients. If you are interested to know of others, please head to our website and follow us on twitter and Facebook.