mercredi 30 septembre 2009

Pause française

J'en ai un peu marre de l'anglais, là, donc français presto pour parler de Bethlehem! Désolée pour ceux qui ne comprennent pas, ils n'ont qu'à me contacter pour que je leur donne des cours...
J'ai enfin trouvé une personne qui est intéressée par mes services (cours de français), et je vais la rencontrer mardi prochain. Elle souhaite écrire une thèse dans le domaine des "French studies" (et oui, ça existe!), et plus précisément sur la littérature africaine francophone (et bien plus précisément, sur la littérature rwandaise post-génocide). Il faut donc que je me renseigne un peu sur ces sujets, bien que je pense que les cours seront d'abord surtout des révisions de grammaire et de conversation. Mais, si quelqu'un lisant ces lignes connait des auteurs Africains écrivant en français, qu'il ou elle partage son savoir dans un commentaire! Les seuls que je connaisse (et encore...) sont Aimé Césaire, Léopold Sédar Senghor et Emmanuel B. Dongala. C'est dire mon ignorance!
Quelques autres lueurs d'espoir pour des cours de français, mais rien de sûr. Je continue de faire passer le mot, j'appelle des gens, je laisse des messages. Une agence de traduction et de tutorat m'a appelé aujourd'hui en me donnant une adresse où envoyer mon CV. On verra ce que ça donne.

J'ai aussi une bonne nouvelle théâtrale à annoncer: faire un master en dramaturgie n'aura pas été en vain! Un des membres de la troupe m'a recruté pour faire du travail dramaturgique - c'est à dire de la recherche sur un sujet spécifique en vue d'un spectacle - pour une pièce qui ouvrira en avril. C'est une création originale avec comme personnage principal la figure mythique de Pan. Je suis, dans ce domaine aussi (mythologie) terriblement ignorante. Mais J.P (le metteur en scène de ce projet) a déjà beaucoup de bouquins qu'il voudrait que je décortique. Je suis assez contente d'avoir l'occasion de faire de la recherche appliquée à un projet précis et concret.
C'était assez drôle ce matin, quand JP m'a demandé si je pouvais l'aider:

JP: " Anne, you have a masters in dramaturgy, right?"
Anne: "Hmm... yes..."
JP: "Because I have some dramaturgical work for you to do for the Pan project."
Anne: "Oh! Ok, what would you want me to do, exactly?"
JP: "I don't know, you're the one who has a degree in dramaturgy!"(if he only knew...)"I have a lot of material about myths and stuff that I can get inspiration from, but need someone to go through the different stories, see what can be useful in the development of the script"....

I am still in awe at the fact that my degree is, in some way, useful to me right now. I honestly never thought that would be the case!

jeudi 24 septembre 2009

Too long for anyone to read...

This is my second week at Touchstone, and things are shaping up. I'm going to help out with sound on a show opening in two weeks. It's a one man show, based on the writings of Henry Thoreau. I have operated sound approximately twice in my life, but, as Touchstone's producing director said, you don't have to be a genius to get it right. You just have to pay attention. I think I can manage that.

However, I still don't have a secondary job (of the kind where you actually get paid), and I'm starting to get worried. Not extremely worried, but a little bit, quand même. My plan was to give French lessons, but I don't know to what extent the citizens of Bethlehem, PA are desperately needing to learn French. Although I have had a few people enquiring about my services, nothing concrete (ie. a meeting) has emerged yet. And today, as I was checking Craigslist, lo and behold, someone was advertising French tutoring for 15 dollars an hour, when I suggested 20. Damn it! I've been outbid !!! How to undo my mistake? Write another craigslist ad, suggesting 15 dollars?
I also have other leads, but, there again, nothing much has come out of my efforts. Today, I printed some ads, and went around pinning them on bulletin boards (I was careful not to mention tarification). Since I'm not extremely gutsy and fear confrontation, I didn't always go into shops to convince the people there to put my ads in a prominent place in their boutiques. But I did manage to get ads pinned in a coffee shop, at the local supermarket, and at the local university. I will continue to sell myself (however awkwardly), and hope for a surge of francophiles desperately seeking my services for their lives to be complete - one can always dream... it's free! D'ailleurs, it has to be said that bulletin boards are underated. After all, that is how I got one really stable tutoring job which lasted two years, when I was at Royal Holloway university. Mrs Tan was going to Tesco, and BAM! she saw my ad. At which point she exclaimed (in her head) "How wonderful! It just so happens that my daughter needs extra help with her French. I'm going to take down this tutor's number, call her and give her a job!" And that was it. I was able to feel a little bit less of a useless student, and a little bit more like I was contributing towards my expenses (at something like 10 pounds an hour, an hour a week, It hardly paid for the entrance to the student's union, but you know, it was a first step in the right direction). Except that now, I'm not a student anymore, and I'm getting a bit old to rely solely on family help. Enfin bref. I hope someone will answer my call, and I will continue to search and think of other legal ways to make money.

Of course, if I knew how to drive and owned a car, the story would most likely be quite different. This will come as a surprise to no one, but it might be useful to reiterate that the USA is all about cars and roads. Even if one lives in a walkable city - which is my case - not having a car is a hindrance. In my fantasy picture of Bethlehem, I had grown to believe that it was a major city, a little bit like Philadelphia, but that no one knew it yet, because it hadn't been discovered... in the same way that a debutante actress isn't famous, not because she has no talent, but just because she hasn't been in the limelight long enough.
Well, in reality, Bethlehem is a nice-sized town, and there are things to do, sure, but it ain't Philly, sweetie. The transportation system limits itself to buses, and I will need to get a bike to be a bit more mobile.
Looking for some night time entertainment one evening (the TV in the house doesn't work, and we don't have an internet connection...), Zach - fellow apprentice and housemate- and I thought we'd go to a bar which promised open mic comedy. When we arrived, there was none of that. Just a bar, with a quirky bar girl. So, we had a few beers, and chuckled at the fact that we had moved far - him from Florida and me from Paris - to come to... Bethlehem. It is kind of funny, when you think about it. We really must be pretty hard-core theatre geeks to put all our faith in one little theatre. Or, just desperate to learn so that, one day, we may actually make a living out of theatre. Ha! That, actually, is the joke. Because who in their right mind would think that possible? Who in their right mind would want to put in so much work for so little instant gratification?

Don't get me wrong, I'm not having an existential crisis, wondering what the hell I'm doing with my life. On the contrary, I'm quite content being here, working for turnips in an old steel town. But I do wonder why I chose theatre in the first place. More precisely, I wonder why I rarely question my choice of working in that field. When did I choose to do this? There was no light-bulb moment, no amazing revelation, with a host of jazz-hand angels surrounding me and whispering Shakespeare verses in my ear... nope. Just a series of great experiences, year after year of original school plays. Those plays did the trick, I think. I loved every bit of the play, except maybe the auditions. I loved rehearsals - especially the ones that lasted all day in the delapidated tram station of the Pont de Sèvres. I loved dress rehearsals, and even tech rehearsals. And of course, performance time. And I absolutely hated the day after the final show. Back to reality was really, really hard.
I suppose I've wanted to replicate that school play feeling ever since. I think that's it. I got hooked! Completely and utterly hooked to the whole process. Theatre is my drug. That's why it can't just be a hobby, and that's why I need to keep on learning how to balance my life between theatre and the real world.

Man, I've been babbling. I apologise. Shorter entry next time, I promise!

dimanche 20 septembre 2009

That clicking feeling

It's funny how things click, sometimes. When two people fall in love, they click, they interlock. But the clicking feeling doesn't limit itself to romantic love : it works with friendships, too. And one can even click with a place.

I have heard so many people say that they fell in love with Paris, or Philadelphia, or Spain, or New Orleans, or Berlin... I wonder what leads us to have special affinities with places. Does it have something to do with the energy? The colors? Some distant childhood memory that invites itself subconsciously in our appreciation of a new place? Whatever it is, it's a real feeling. As unfathomable as human love, as random. You can't really choose with whom you click, nor can you decide with what you interlock... I really wish I clicked easily with Paris, but it'll always be a love you/love you not relationship between us. That's the way it is. I have to accept it, and move on. That doesn't mean I won't end up living there happily, but it does mean that there will always be something about Paris that I will want to change. On the other hand, the places with which I really click don't ever need to change for me to love them unconditionally. I realize how dirty Dublin is and even how racist its taxi drivers are, but I still click with that Liffey city. That doesn't mean I'll go back, either. It just means that, to me, Dublin is one of my very favorite places. So is Brittany. Irrationnal and most certainly annoying to the people who don't agree with me. Mais les goûts et les couleurs, ainsi que les villes préférées, ne se discutent pas!

I'm starting to feel that specific clicking feeling with Touchstone Theatre. It's only been a week, and yet... that stage is no stranger. The offices are welcoming. The café inviting and friendly. Everything about it says to me that I will like it here. The people are warm without being phony. They are theatre professionals, all about performance, yet remain elegantly private. Theatre is regarded as beautiful, dangerous, fragile, worth loosing money for, worth promoting, worth a life of very hard work. The building is flooded with light, until you step into the 75 seat theatre. There, you wait to be flooded with the warm lights of the projectors, and surrounded by beautiful stories.

I wouldn't describe this move to the United States as easy; it definitely came with some sacrifice. In no ways will this internship year be easy, either. My fellow apprentice and I were warned, from the very first day, that we were going to face some serious challenges. But easy is not what we're aiming for, really. Or maybe it is. But the easy we're looking for is the one that comes from "ease". It's the way in which two parts fit with ease, once they have met. Because they were meant to fit together, because they click.

dimanche 13 septembre 2009

Personal pep talk

This is my version of a personal pep talk:

I'm moving to Bethlehem tomorrow.
Off I go to a new town,
Off I go to a new place,
Off I go.

I know it'll be fine. I know it'll be great.
If a part of me still wants to hide,
Another part of me can't wait.

I'm moving to Bethlehem tomorrow.
Off I go to meet new people,
Off I go to learn my art,
Off I go.

Experiences to pick, discoveries all new
I only hope I'll seize them quick,
Won't let them go unused.

I'm moving to Bethlehem tomorrow.
Off I go with a smile,
Off I go with gratefulness,
Off I go.

jeudi 10 septembre 2009

Recipes galore

Sometimes, cruising on facebook can be beneficial... here's a blog link that appeared on my news feed. It's basically a food blog, and a directory to many many recipes:

It looks amazing, and will probably become my online recipe book for this year!

mercredi 9 septembre 2009

Quaker cemetery

This morning, my uncle and I drove around the countryside of Chester County, and stopped at a Quaker friend's meeting house, to walk around the old cemetery, and see if we couldn't find the tombstone of a very distant relative who had been laid to rest there. It was a hilly piece of land, and the small tombstones seemed to grow out of the lush green grass. Fields surrounded us, divided by rows of elegant, tall, gnarly trees. A barn nearby, with wide open doors, allowed one to catch a glimpse of the inside filled with hay. A flock of small birds flew over us in the grey-almost raining sky. Sounds of insects were continuous, unruffled.
Standing at the top of the hill, I beat myself up mentally for having forgotten my camera. It was one of those times where, as I was looking at the cemetery, and the fields, and the sky, I already had an idea for a composition, and I just needed the camera to be the extension of my eye. But it wasn't there, so all I could do was look as hard as I could, and absorb what I was seeing without being able to externalize it onto something beyond my own mind. Photography is all about catching the moment. And when the moment is lost, when time has flown by without being able to immortalize mere seconds, there's a heightened sense of frustration. If only I had brought my camera...
But this sense of loss shouldn't only be felt with photography. How many times have I not expressed myself when I so desperately needed to? Wanting to write but being overcome by laziness, or using excuses like lack of time, or deciding to watch whatever tv show I could catch on youtube instead of making the effort to go beyond the surface of life? There too, moments were lost. What needed to come out didn't. I didn't act on that creative impulse, so nothing came out of it. This time, I thought I'd describe the scene. No camera, but words, and memory. To remember the stillness and mystery of the graveyard, and to bring what I had seen out there for others to imagine.