Paris opens doors to English theatre festival

A UK troupe has kicked off its second festival of British theatre in Paris, promising to be more even spectacular than the last one.

Paris opens doors to English theatre festival
Photo: Bred in the Bone
The “Bred in The Bone” theatre troupe crossed the Channel once again to set up shop in Paris for a week of good old British theatre (in English, of course).
They've brought a co-hort of British artists to perform in the Dreams Before Dawn festival, which offers theatre, music, workshops and discussions, all hosted in at the Theatre de Menimontant, in the 20th arrondissment of Paris.
The festival kicked off on Tuesday and runs until Sunday. 

(Scenes from one of the shows. Photo: Bred in the Bone)
Kate Radford, who is part of the company, says this year's show is worth a visit due to the sheer variety of performers on hand. 
“The shows are from companies that range from new and emerging, to longer standing ones too,” she told The Local.
“This year is really special, because of how much the festival has been extended, from two days to five days and the amount of companies visiting has more than doubled.” 
“Also in troubled times, it is more important than ever to keep the artistic dialogue between our neighbouring countries as an exchange of art and culture.”
Feature performances include Orpheus, which the troupe describes as “a modern, poetic, spoken-word retelling of the renowned Greek tale”, and the “She Is Shakespeare Trilogy”, which will see three Shakespeare classics re-imagined through the female body. 
The festival began in 2015 at the hands of Artistic Director Matthieu Bellon, who told The Local at the time that it was time the French appreciated what English theatre had to offer. 
“There's a certain fear among the French that they won't be able to appreciate theatre in English. In fact, the French are quite closed to anything that's not in French. But they're curious. They want to know what's going on across the channel. Even though sometimes it feels more like an ocean than a channel,” he said. 
Get your tickets for “Dreams Before Dawn” here, and see the full programme here
Photo: Rach/Flickr

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Top Paris theatre reopens as Covid occupy movement ends

French actors, stage technicians and other members of the performing arts ended a more-than-two-month occupation of the famous Odéon theatre in Paris on Sunday, allowing the show to go on after this week's easing of Covid-19 curbs.

Top Paris theatre reopens as Covid occupy movement ends
A picture taken on January 26, 2011 in Paris shows the facade of the Odéon theatre. LOIC VENANCE / AFP

The protesters took down the banners they had slung across the facade of the venue in the Left Bank as they left at dawn, leaving just one inscribed “See you soon”.

“We’re reopening!,” theatre director Stéphane Braunschweig exclaimed on the venue’s website, adding that it was “a relief and a great joy to be able to finally celebrate the reunion of the artists with the public.”

The Odéon, one of France’s six national theatres, was one of around 100 venues that were occupied in recent weeks by people working in arts and entertainment.

The protesters are demanding that the government extend a special Covid relief programme for “intermittents” — performers, musicians, technicians and other people who live from contract to contract in arts and entertainment.

READ ALSO: Protesters occupy French theatres to demand an end to closure of cultural spaces

With theatres shut since October due to the pandemic, the occupations had gone largely unnoticed by the general public until this week when cultural venues were finally cleared to reopen.

The Odéon, which was inaugurated by Marie-Antoinette in 1782, had planned to mark the reopening in style, by staging Tennessee Williams’ masterpiece “The Glass Menagerie”, with cinema star Isabelle Huppert as a former southern belle mourning the comforts of her youth.

But the protests scuppered the first five performances, with management saying the venue was blocked — a claim the protesters denied.

“What we wanted was for it (the performance) to go ahead, along with an occupation allowing us to speak out and hang our banners. We don’t want to stop the show,” Denis Gravouil, head of the performing arts chapter of the militant CGT union, said on Sunday.

Two other major theatres — the Colline theatre in eastern Paris and the National Theatre of Strasbourg — have also been affected by the protests.
France has one of the world’s most generous support systems for self-employed people in the arts and media, providing unemployment benefit to those who can prove they have worked at least 507 hours over the past 12 months.

But with venues closed for nearly seven months, and strict capacity limits imposed on those that reopened this week, the “intermittents” complained they could not make up their hours.

The government had already extended a year-long deadline for them to return to work by four months.

The “intermittents” are pushing for a year-long extension instead.