March 5th and 6th
“We must all do theater to find out who we are, and to discover who we can become.”–Augusto Boal
Yesterday was the first day of my classes with the Alliance Française. This week our theme for the class is the theater, which cannot be more convenient for me because I plan to attend a play at the famous Comedié Française this Sunday. During the first class, we covered many vocabularies related to theater (the personage in the troupe, places in the theater, parts of play). As a person who had not worked in a Westtown theater production, I was only a little surprised to find that I don’t even know the English word for many of the vocabularies. As a result, I had to look up the English word for “the person who moves the props between scenes,” “the person who help the actor get dressed” etc. before trying to figure out the correct word in French theater. This means that I have to spend more time finishing my homework, but at the same time, I learned so much more about the different parts that go into a successful reproduction of a play and feel so much more prepared for my adventure to the Comédie Française this Sunday.
The favorite idea I’ve learned from this first class is that “une pièce de théâtre n’est finie que jusqu’a les comediens le presentent aux spectateurs” (a theater piece is not finished until the actors present it to the audience). This quote emphasizes the important role of the director and the actors’ reinterpretation of the original script. In a piece of theater, the playwright only sets up the “body” for the personage, but it is the actual production and the people who participate in it that gives the characters their spirit. The life experience the actors, the metteur en scène, and the individual spectator can change the meaning of the play a lot. At the same time, our interpretation of the play can tell us a lot about ourselves. Thus, the quote, we must all do theater, as actors, as directors, or as active spectators to discover who we are and who we can be.
The same principle of active participation and interpretation can also be applied to my adventures in Paris. Paris is different for each visitor and inhabitant for it is so diverse that everyone can draw an unique connection with Paris. Given my interest in humanities, my encounter with Paris is more an exploration of Paris’ history and culture. In the past two days, I’ve explored Abbaye de Saint-Germain-des-Prés, Église Saint-Sulpice, Musée national Eugène-Delacroix, Jardin Luxembourg, Cimetière du Montparnasse, Musée Bourdelle etc. Because of my interest in languages, classics, and history, I payed special attention to the Latin inscriptions in the churches and cemetery I visited and was especially grateful to be able to do a complimentary guided tour in French about Eugène Delacroix’s oriental studies at the Musée national Eugène-Delacroix.
Middle: Latin inscription on the tomb of Descartes
Interior of Église Saint-Sulpice
palace and garden of Luxembourg
my favorite work of Antoine Bourdelle at Musée Bourdelle
The past few days Paris has offered me many pleasant surprises. I’m super excited for my future adventures at Paris!