Hi! I’m Gareth and I’m currently in Avignon on an Erasmus trip, read my blog to find out what I’ve been up to…
Day 1 – Lundi 17 Juin
After finding the correct shuttle bus from Marseilles Airport (very difficult) I arrived at Vertrolles Aeroport Marseilles station and boarded my double-decker train at 15:25 local time. After a 50 minute train through glorious scenery I arrived in Avignon.
I was greeted by Dr Cyrielle Garson who drove me to my accommodation a short drive from the station that gave me my first view of the wall encasing the center of Avignon. Upon arriving we found no bedding, utensils, plates, cups, etc, and so was forced to buy some from a local shop … €70!!
After returning home with my new bedding, I unpacked, cleaned the (already slightly clean) flat, and meandered into the centre of Avignon; only 5 minutes away. After winding endlessly through small side street, and some occasional dead ends, I came across a big square called Place Pie. I decided to sit down at some seats outside a bar and ordered some nachos, a beer and took in the atmosphere.
P.S. also while getting lost through the streets, I managed to stumble across the Chapeau Rouge Theatre, in which I’ll be working with from next week. Very quaint and small, excited to see inside and meet people.
P.P.S VERY HOT HERE
Day 2 – Mardi 18 Juin
After a well needed sleep, I decided to get up early to try and get my bearings a bit more. Instead of walking into the inner circle of Avignon, I decided to walk north around the perimeter of the wall. I walked adjacent to the River Rhône which eventually led me to the Pont D’avignon. I’d of course seen pictures of this prior to coming to Avignon, and it looked incredible, but not as much so as it does with your own eyes. Stretching out into the Rhône, reflecting the blue sky above it, it was picturesque; definitely will be visiting again, maybe in the evening?
After having taken in the views, I walked south into the centre past the Remparts D’Avignon to find somewhere for a coffee; ‘Un latte si vous plait?’… I think that’s how you say it?
At 11:45 I had to navigate my way back through the bustling town to meet Dr Madelena Gonzalez at the University Campus. I was presented with a wealth of information regarding the festival, which is fast approaching, and told more regarding the meeting with the owner of the Chapeau Rouge Theatre this Thursday.
We then went for lunch and discussed our own interests within the arts and what it is I want to develop whilst in Avignon. I can tell Dr Gonzalez is a wealth of knowledge and that she’ll regret saying I can message her a question anytime!
After lunch and with it being the hottest part of the day, I decided after Dr Gonzalez’s advice, to stay inside in an air conditioned room, so went to the library and found a section called ‘littérature anglaise’ and more specifically a book containing essays relating to Harold Pinter; read for 1 hour.
With the heat beginning to decline, albeit not a lot, I again decided to walk into the town to find somewhere to sample the local produce… well, wine! But instead came across something most Brits love whilst abroad, and that is a bar selling English ales, the bars name is English and they had Led Zeppelin blasting through the speakers; ‘this will do’ I thought. They were extremely welcoming and even allowed me to play my bands new single…
‘Arcadia Sun – Can You See Me Now?’ is available on all major platforms including Apple Music, Spotify, YouTube … go and check it out!
I came back to my little studio in the University Accommodation, had a short nap and then for tea some bread, ham and very smelly cheese (my parents said smellier the better)! Then, later in the evening went out again, yes I know I’m not on holiday, but what would you do if you were here?
Capped off the day in a Salsa Bar where beginner’s classes were being held, no I did participate ha! Then returned back for well needed sleep.
Day 3 – Mercredi 19 Juin
After spending the first two days and nights in my studio without WiFi, accommodation manager Madame Lefevre, who speaks very little English, paid me a visit to my room to see if she could sort it out. After many sign language gestures and reassuring nods of agreement she managed to rectify the issue and I was able to connect to the router, which resembles an old Nintendo 64 console!
With the temperature already peaking at roughly 30c at midday I decided to stay in the flat as I had no meeting to attend today with anyone, and so after having lunch, inadvertently fell back asleep; I don’t feel like since traveling Monday I have fully caught up on my zzz’s…
At around 14:20 I decided to venture out again, and as I have done previously, try to find a different route, path or side street and see where it takes me. As fate would have it, I genuinely came across the Chapeau Rouge Theatre again, the one I would be working with during the festival, maybe the universe is trying to tell me something, all paths lead here…
I continued south through the town again hoping to be led to somewhere new, frightened I’d somehow revert back once again to the theatre, but instead found myself stepping onto a huge high street, with designer shops and bars and well-dressed people; and here I was in my Primark shorts, Primark t-shirt, Primark trainer socks, Primark hat, Primark sunglasses…ok I’ll stop, you get the picture.
Having been side-eyed and glared at by far too many people who thought they were somehow better than me I turned into a park called Square Agricol Perdiguier, where youngsters were drinking cans of beer and smoking, and loud music played through small Bluetooth speakers and ‘this’ I thought, ‘this is better’, no one judged me here for my Primark attire as I strode through like a model on a catwalk. Oh yes, the park itself was beautiful, lots of greenery and water features and a small cafe in the middle.
I followed signs for the Palais Des Papes, as, similarly to the Pont D’avignon, I had seen pictures prior to coming here and it looked huge, yet somehow I hadn’t seen it yet. Like most large architecture here it only takes one small step round a corner for it to reveal itself; and what a reveal it was. Looming over a giant square packed with tourists all gripping their rucksacks with their thumbs or taking pictures, buskers playing rock’n’roll, break-dancers in the corner, and a small collection of market tents, stood tall and proud the Palais Des Papes.
Having checked the prices for entry and discovering as a student I could get discount, I decided with being here for 2 months I don’t need to do everything at once ha! So instead strolled around the Rocher des Doms park north of the Palace. Once at the top, the park offers incredible views over Avignon and the surrounding countryside north of the River Rhône where rumour has it former president Barack Obama is vacationing…
I walked back to the square below and sat myself in the shadow of the Popes’ former home, and ordered a glass of rouge totalling €4… I was impressed and took in the scenery.
Later on I returned to Place Pie, becoming a regular spot in the evenings, and had some tea and chatted with John and Becky, a couple from Minnesota who were traveling across France from North to South. We talked about home and our dogs, they listened politely as I told them about my Masters, and so on.
I capped off the evening in a cool indie bar called Beer o’ Clock (how original I know) and started talking to the bartender Valker. His English was good, and he appreciated my attempts at speaking French. What made this bar stand out is that it has a self-service, pay for what you drink style of working things which Valker explained, ‘well it makes my life easier’! I plan on going back on Friday as he told me there is live music from bands and DJ’s so I’ll keep you all posted on that front.
Day 4 & 5 – Jeudi 20 & Vendredi 21 Juin
So straight in!!
On Thursday I completed my third blog post, and then just chilled in the flat.
Only kidding, but I figured I need to get used to the time spent alone in here, as can’t be out every single moment sightseeing and drinking house wine. So I listened to music, wrote things down, watched a bit of TV… time genuinely flew by.
Later that day at 17:30 I had a meeting at the university with Madelena and the owner of the Chapeau Rouge Theatre Helen Landau, to find out more what I would be doing during my time here.
Helen is extremely passionate about what she does, and it inspires me to do the best whilst out here. I will be working roughly 30h/w at the theatre, whilst also completing a research task into Anglophone theatre; the success stories of English speaking productions that have been staged at the Festival, some of the barriers that both theatres and companies have to get over, and any statistics that show how many there have been.
I’ve managed to condense what was about an hour meeting into a brief paragraph as admittedly at first it was a lot to take in, as the scale of the task became evermore clearer. But this is what I’ve come here for, to challenge myself and do something different to what I’m usually used to; a scary excitement would best describe it.
Later in the evening I had a massive burger at a place called ‘Le Cul De Poule’ under a huge veranda as the sun descended at around 21:30.
Friday – another chilled morning, still adjusting to the heat, decided there’s no need to subject myself to the oven outside if I don’t need to.
Met Dr Gonzalez at 14:30 beside a carousel ride at ‘Le Place D’Horlage’. She wanted to take me to the ‘Maison Jean Vilar’, a place dedicated to archiving the Festival D’Avignon since 1947, and meet Lenka Bokova the librarian there. A wealth of information was inside and definitely will be very useful for the research project I’ve been tasked with. Nearly every single performance that has taken place at the festival since 1947 is documented in this archive so you can imagine there’s a lot, I mean A LOT of information available.
This evening it was the Fête De La Musique, which takes over the city, I was very excited to see what I’d stumble across. There were choirs, cover bands, originals bands, and DJ’s on nearly every corner. It was brilliant to see, people of all ages enjoying such an array of music. I finally found myself bopping along to some Frenchy House music that contained words I didn’t understand. All in all, was a good night.
P.S. Wound up talking to a man called Gregory, who said he owns two little theatres and gave me his number and names of the theatres, saying that he had a pretty good opinion as to why there is such little English theatre in the festival. More to follow.
Day 6 & 7 – Samedi 22 & Dimanche 23 Juin
Saturday – Honestly nothing to report. Stayed in flat allllll day, with the exception of a trip to the local Lidl, only 10 minute walk away luckily. However, when lugging back a rucksack and big bag full of goodies in 35c heat, made the journey feel like a lifetime.
Sunday – Again with the intense heat, I stayed in the flat all morning, and until 15:00. However, set out across the town around 15:30 to meet my family friends Kate and Rob Clayton who were aboard a Viking River cruise and were situated west of Avignon on the River Rhône.
In order to get on board, I was advised by Kate to say I was her nephew who lived in Avignon, as it would enable me to receive a visitor pass. However I arrived about 20 minutes early, messaged Kate to no response, and assumed at this moment they maybe weren’t on the boat. With a crew member sat on the entrance to the boat I decided to give it 5 minutes and see if Kate would reply. But when the crew member stepped off the boat to presumably stretch his legs, I took my chance and stowed myself away up on the top deck and relaxed on a recliner waiting for Kate’s response or arrival.
Shortly after I saw Kate walk on, but unfortunately through a door you needed a pass to get through … so I sneaked across the top deck to another entrance taking me down where I managed to be greeted by Kate and receive my visitor pass (which I’ve kept in case I fancy boarding another time ha)!
Not long after Rob arrived with two of their friends from Canada and we sat out on the terrace and sampled unlimited Pinot Noir and smelly blue cheese; delightful. It was really nice to catch up and tell them all about what I’m up to out here and how they’re all doing at home; it had been something like 5 or 6 years since I’d last seen them, maybe longer.
It was then time for them to attend their ‘drowning drill’ as Rob referred to it; essentially get their life jackets, but I preferred his phrasing. So I left them to their evening and planned to maybe meet up again Tuesday when their cruise returns to Avignon after having been to the neighbouring town of Arles.
I rambled my way back into the town and again attempted to find an alternative route home, snapping some pictures along the way; and inevitably ended up at my now new local ‘Beer o’Clock’. Where I spoke to the drummer of a band who I’d seen perform on Friday during the Fête De La Musique and he invited me along to jam with his band on Monday, I of course accepted the offer, should be interesting.
Day 8 – 12. Lundi 24, Mardi 25, Mercredi 26, Jeudi 27 & Vendredi 28
So first of all apologies for the late update. On Tuesday morning my MacBook charger broke in half (it was 7 years old and had been to many a house party back in my uni days) and was rendered completely useless, so the hunt was on for a quick replacement.
Lundi 24th Juin – So if my notes serve me correctly, I went to the library Monday morning to make full use of the air-con, no brainer really, and also to formulate a plan for my now second week in Avignon. If I was going to be taking on the research task as previously mentioned last week, I needed to be swift in my approach and formulaic.
Plan created, I decided to walk into town and treat myself to a house red wine, this time €2.50, and a very large glass, bargain! I had a book launch to attend at 18:00 with Helen Landau from the Chapeau Rouge, so with a few hours to kill, I walked around the town slowly again like a tourist, trying my best to stick in the shade, like a spy sleuthing around the walls.
I arrived back at the University and met Helen for the book launch, which was a book that had taken an in depth look at the Avignon Festival. Honestly I struggled, as for roughly an hour and half, maybe longer, there was a panel discussion all in French (of course) and it was very difficult to make sense of it all, especially with a lot of academic language being used. However, what reassured Helen and myself was that she said that contained in this book was not any specific details about English productions in the festival; which gives the research we are completing potentially more weight.
Later in the evening I met with the band I had met the previous Friday during the Fête De La Musique for ‘The Jam’ they had invited me to. Theo and Jade arrived with their parents, which at first I thought was odd, inviting your parents to watch essentially a practice. However, this evening was not a jam … or a practice … but instead an open mic night … in a busy popular bar … where the current musicians playing were out of this world … what have I got myself into I thought?? The three of us worked out we could play maybe a few songs together, Muse and the Arctic Monkeys etc. But then Theo got called into work last minute, so I was left with Jade and her parents … waiting … waiting for what I’m sure would be a disaster.
Fortunately the previous musicians who had played, doubled up as spare parts of sorts, and were able to fill in the gaps, so we acquired a drummer, keyboardist and bassist, whilst I played a guitar and Jade sang. But however talented these other musicians were, couldn’t make up for the murky sound that was produced, mainly out of time vocals, the songs structure taking a sudden shift to the chorus out of nowhere, the drummer walking off in frustration, as this probably wasn’t doing him any favours …
All in all it was pretty drastic to say the least, I hid under my hat and promptly, whilst also politely, left once our three songs were up.
I returned home and downed a bottle of red and sobbed into my pillow.
Mardi 25th Juin – Tuesday I remained true to my outlined plan from Monday and got up early to visit the Maison Jean Vilar where I managed to identify 6 English theatre productions that’d had been staged in recent years during the Festival. Now this sounds like it was a quick and easy process, however when trying to scour a 400 page festival guide for words that vaguely reference anything to English Theatre, it got a bit tedious at times. Although I felt a sense of achievement with my 6 findings, so the plan was to visit the venues that had hosted them tomorrow and Thursday.
I had the pleasure once more in the afternoon of joining Kate and Rob on their Viking River Cruise again, this time for lunch. Kate had managed to give me to have access to the on-board lunch menu, at no charge to themselves or in fact me (result), so I had a lovely salad buffet, followed by a cracking sandwich and washed down with yet again more free wine; delightful. Afterwards we sat on the top deck, enjoyed an iced tea, and said our goodbyes once more. Thank you again for having me!
Mercredi 26th & Jeudi 27th Juin – genuinely both days a complete write off.
Temperature far too hot.
38c – 42c
I managed on Wednesday to walk all of 10 mins, then went back to my studio as essentially had melted onto the pavement looking like a muddle of mayonnaise.
Then on Thursday I met Cyrielle, as good news, she had a spare charger for my laptop. As I battled my way through the scorching heat there and back, I could have cried when I arrived home only to discover the laptop charger was the incorrect size!!!
Once it was cooler in the evening, I went to Beer O’ Clock to write in my notebook whilst enjoying a cool beer. Theo working on the bar asked what I’d been up to today, I explained about Laptop Charger Gate, and to my astonishment, he said he had the exact charger I needed. He left shortly after, to return some two hours later with the charger. Hallelujah!!
Jeudi 28th Juin – Finally in this never ending blog post, thank you if you’re still here reading this, Friday morning I went to the library to utilise once again the air-con!
Came back for lunch, and avoided the midday heat.
At 18:00 I was back at the University to be part of the audience for a second year PHD Performance. Now despite it being in French, I was still able to take so much from it. The scenery and music, the performative decisions and choreography were mesmerising and had me paying close attention the entire time. Notes of Beckett, themes of isolation and loneliness, made for this to a very interesting performance indeed.
That’s all folks.
With a laptop charger now, the posts will be more regular.
Thank you for reading.
Days 13 – 16. Samedi 29, Dimanche 30, Lundi 1 & Mardi 2.
On the Saturday of my second week I made tortellini for lunch, it was delicious in case you were wondering. If I’m going to be eating either a lot of cheese or a lot a pasta, it’s good to mix it up a bit.
I planned a route around the city to check out and possibly speak to the proprietors of some local theatres that I had identified as previously hosting English theatre productions, and call at an English book shop. I planned the route as I mentioned, so I could be as swift as possible in the 39c heat. No faffing around, no stalling and burning; point A to B, B to C and then … maybe a beer.
First off was the Theatre Des Italian – CLOSED
Second, Camili Books & Tea – OPEN, bought the Bourne Identity for €1.
Thirdly, La Tache D’encore – CLOSED
All in all a successful trip, well done Gareth, you’ve worked really hard today, pat on the back, you deserve a beer … well, if you say so!
So I found this lovely little pit stop and enjoyed a beer that is only sold by this establishment I’ll have you know. Still very hot outside though, so went inside and stared at the four walls whilst being gently caressed by the fan’s cool touch.
After about 30 mins, I had built up quite the rapport with the bartender, who’s name I can’t remember, and got him to play Arcadia Sun on Spotify! He said he enjoyed it, there was the occasional bob of the head and tapping of the feet. It’s quite odd hearing your band in a foreign country, hopefully a sign of things to come.
Sunday – nothing to report, very hot, stayed in, read my book, did sudoku, watched Harry Potter … the end.
Monday I went early to the library to do some work.
Then at 14:00 I had been advised to attend some classes that were being put on as part of a summer schoolesqe kind of thing. I went to a very hot room, and sat for an hour listening to a Professor talk completely in French, about Francophone … which google informed me is a collection of known countries across the world where French is predominantly the spoken language.
Now I’m sure there was more to it than that, as the lecture was supposedly going to last for 3 hours! But with me not being able to understand roughly 99.9% of what was being said, I politely excused myself after 1 hour, tapping my watch and pointing in a random direction to give the impression of ‘I have somewhere else to be’… a concerned look on my face as well suggesting that the imaginary someone waiting for me ‘somewhere’ was annoyed I was late. I think it worked. He smiled at me as I left, and probably muttered something about me being stupid and English to the rest of the participants as I had closed the door behind me.
I decided to return on home, as once again being out at 15:00 with the scorching sun is not comfortable.
Tuesday saw me have my first official day at the Chapeau Rogue Theatre.
Helen was there to greet me with her son Roland and husband Francis, who were both very welcoming and made me feel very comfortable. A Masters student called Nashwa from the Avignon University was also assisting the theatre during the festival; she shared the same expression of ‘I wonder what we’re going to be doing?’
Well we were tasked with organising and coordinating the separate books for each show that the Chapeau would be hosting during the festival. Tickets and details were all included in these books and the hours flew by after cutting and gluing multiple bits of information in said books. Although it was a basic task, it was the nonetheless enjoyable; it felt rewarding to actually be of assistance and be productive.
I was also tasked with helping Francis in preparing posters that would be adorned across every street corner in the nearby vicinity the following day. I was informed it would be organised chaos as not only do all of Avignon’s many theatres flood the streets, but also every company that is performing during the festival, all trying to get the perfect spot to advertise their craft and work they would be performing. It all sounded very exciting, I couldn’t wait.
When I was told at 17:00 I could leave, I sat at Red Sky, the bar, and had a (I mean it this time) well deserved glass of wine and read my new book.
Later in the evening I went to Beer O’clock to watch the England ladies hopefully beat USA in the semi final of the World Cup. Unfortunately that was not the case, in a very tight game which saw VAR taketh away a goal, but also provide a questionable penalty, which frustratingly wasn’t converted. I met a couple from Ohio called Jill and Verner, or Verne for short … and were on a 2 month tour of France, lucky buggers, 2 months in France as if … ha! They annoyingly referred to me all night as Gary (imagine in a strong Oh-hi-oh accent) after presumably mishearing me say Gareth.
After the game they celebrated and skipped hand in hand down the street chanting U-S-A! Whereas I strolled on home back to my studio in order to get a good night’s rest before the impending mosh-pit of poster sticker uppers descended onto the city the following day.
Days 17 – 19. Mercredi 3, Jeudi 4 & Vendredi 5.
Wednesday morning I was expected to be at the Chapeau Rouge for 9:00 in order to prepare for the barrage of poster soldiers who would be arming the streets with string, sellotape and ladders loaded. There was already an excitable buzz around the city as I entered the inner battlements, with individuals already out on the street waiting for 10:00; the official time you are allowed to start postering. There were trolleys loaded with posters, ready to start attaching them to any piece of guttering, window ledges, literally any flat piece of wall and lamp posts … the list goes on.
We as the Chapeau Rouge team were advised to mark our territory, like a dog, literally gather like a load of squatting hounds, waiting for the nod of approval from our master.
Then once 10:00, it was a frenzy to stick and hang as many posters as possible for the shows that the theatre would be hosting. The ladders came out, endless roles of string and sellotape, it was rather quite enjoyable actually, a great morning.
Later in the afternoon, me and Roland went out to dish out some programs for the theatre in numerous touristy areas; it was only now that I realised the full extent of peoples postering abilities. I ensure I will snap some pictures over the coming weeks, but to say there are LOTS of posters is an understatement … there are literally thousands upon thousands of posters across the whole city. It’s incredible.
Later on in the evening, after having on the first week taken a stroll down the river in the morning, I decided to in the evening instead. Was very nice, to see the bridge again and the Palais des Papes again except in a new light.
Thursday saw me arrive at the theatre in order to help set up for the meet and greet that would allow all the staff, including myself, and all the performers to convene together and introduce one another. I myself was asked by Helen to introduce myself in French (gulp), and after the use of google translate and an encouraging look from Helen, I was able to say my name, I am English (duh), I live in Liverpool, I am a Masters student in Performance and interested in popular and political theatre.
I would have wrote that in French, but nor me or probable yourself wouldn’t have made any sense of it.
Then with the afternoon and the same on Friday, I was out the front of the theatre assisting with the box office, checking the posters are still hanging and helping the acts shift their belongings and props from the stage in preparation for the next performance.
Finally feels really good to be involved.
Also, saw two shows over the past couple of day at the Chapeau Rouge, both really enjoyable and interesting. Will provide a more coherent write up over the weekend as seeing two other shows at a different theatre on Sunday so will combine into one post.
Days 20 & 21: Samedi 6 & Dimanche 7.
Saturday had a brief lie in and started thinking more about my dissertation after having received my feedback for my previous/last performance; it was a good mark I assure you ha!
Went to work at the Chapeau Rouge for 18:15.
Had a good and insightful conversation with another assistant at the theatre called Lisa who studied English for her BA and now Theatre for her MA. She provided good opinions and thoughts relating to the research project and Anglophone (English) theatre.
I accompanied Roland from the theatre for tea at a local sandwich/burger joint. Was good to get to know him better and share differing experiences of University in different countries.
Helped pack up the theatre stall around 22:00.
Went to Beer O’Clock to cap of the day during what appeared to be celebrations regarding a gnome … not sure why. But I received a gnome key ring, gnome hat and a pair of sunglasses (which will no doubt come in useful when I inevitably break my current pair.)
Friday, I know I’ve covered Friday previously, but I saw a great show called Le Bon at the Chapeau Rouge.
A well-known play apparently.
Two maids plot to kill their Master, well in this case Mistress (played by a male).
Two actresses playing the maids were fantastic.
‘Madame’ played by the actor was brilliant and provided a lot of comedy among a lot of tense moments.
Overall was an enjoyable play, great acting and use of space and props.
Back to Saturday.
I saw a brilliant musical/comedy/melancholic fuelled performance called Pêcheurs de Rêves.
A single pianist, with a vocalist to accompany provided an evening of pure class.
The pianist whilst being outstanding on his instrument also provided imitations of cello and violin sounds which were absolutely perfect.
It seemed and appeared clownish, almost as the performers are trapped in this performance, doomed to perform every night, but were however questioning their fate. With a gobo of a window continually luring the singer towards as if longing to escape, the pianist would start another song as if to drag him back in.
Enjoyed primarily for the music and charismatic performances, despite not understanding the actual words ha!
Sunday saw me wake up fairly early, enjoyed some choccy croissants, then later a chorizo, ham and cheese sandwich.
I walked down to the Garage International Theatre around 13:00 in order to secure my ticket for the performance of Suburban Tribe: Unmasked at 15:30. As it was in English, this would provide an afternoon of enjoyment and allow me to feel more at home, but also an opportunity to afterwards potentially quiz the performer Kate Mura on her opinions of performing in English during the festival, and therefore assist greatly towards my research project I’d been tasked with.
The performance was fantastic. Completely autobiographical about a troubling and difficult time during Mura’s life, she managed to be completely honest about a dramatic period of her life, but let the performance do the talking. Effortless transitions between multiple charactera (real people) from her life provided moments of comedy and pure sadness.
A returning performer to the festival, who completely showcased her abilities of Commedia Del’Arte despite not having her masks (that she sadly had lost due to a theft) that should be looked out for Internationally across all modes of Festival settings.
Afterwards I was fortunate enough to catch her for an hour before she returned for another performance, and we talked thoroughly about her successes, barriers and advice in regards to performing in English in the Avignon Festival. Her words and opinions definitely plan to be contained in the final report regarding the research I have conducted.
All in all a productive weekend.
P.S. went for a drink at Beer O’clock again. I love it there, it’s great.
Week 4 Summary
Right before anyone tells me .. alright yes, yes I know, I got lazy. I know I shouldn’t have made the assurance at the beginning that this would maybe be a twice daily occasion.
So before anyone feels all high and mighty and thinks, ‘I knew he wouldn’t do it’, well this is me beating you to it. I know. I have been keeping hand written notes in my journal though. So let me just read back through that for a minute.
Monday 8th consisted of another fruitful day at the Chapeau Rouge, from 10:15 through until 17:15.
Mainly consisting again of working out the front and attempting to occasionally navigate my way through conversations with people asking to reserve tickets for a show.
It usually starts with me saying ‘Bon-Jaw’ and then ‘Ca Va?’ (no not the drink you have on birthdays or christmas). The naive customer, oblivious to the fact I am now completely rendered useless and practically of no help to them, then proceed to speak in French. This is where I really have to pay close attention, as I’m very acutely trying to hear the name of a show that is playing at the Chapeau Rouge, and if that happens, I confidently get the reservation book and proceed to ask their name, ‘votre nom’. Then this is where it gets really tricky, as often I don’t catch their name or don’t understand, or they just continue to spell it out, and I get my G’s and J’s mixed up as the French decided to swap them round in their alphabet for some reason.
I then must look like I have the face of someone who has just been let out of the lunatic asylum for the day, as I really genuinely have no idea what’s gone on, and huge beads of sweat start dripping down my already very sweaty face, and I kind of just smile hoping for forgiveness. It’s usually at this point that either Helen, Francis or Roland jump in to my rescue and would be completely forgiven if they then explained that this is Gareth from the Liverpool remedial school on a trip with his carer.
I mop my brow and wait patiently for the next poor soul.
I decided on my lunch break to take a stroll through Avignon, as I find it’s less hot when you’re constantly moving and not just sat stationary somewhere… almost creating my own breeze, running through the streets.
And I found this street, with a little stream parallel to it, with lots of little shops and bars on the other side. It reminded me of Liverpool Bold Street somehow. This street had Jehovah Witnesses on it too.
Tuesday 9th as I was walking towards the theatre I thought, ‘Ooo, a nice fresh croissant from a bakery would be nice’. I stepped inside, pressed my nose against the glass container, and it smelt wonderful, I could not wait to have a nice buttery, fluffy delight. Then I realised I had no cash on me. This was a cash only premises.
I was sorely disappointed to have made this mistake, and even more annoyed with myself when after deciding to go to the regular supermache to get a not so fresh croissant, but still the same better than none, I whipped my phone case out which contains my debit card and was worryingly scared to discover my card wasn’t there, and neither was my phone case … I’d left that at home too.
This was not the best start to the day.
However I had a meeting with a lady called Elizabeth Brownhill who Helen had put me in contact with regarding the research task into Anglophone Theatre, as she was involved in an American play, but had decided to perform it in French… it would be interesting to gage her opinions on the possible ways Anglophone Theatre could be more prevalent.
We met for coffee, where I had to make the sorry excuse of not having my card on me .. or cash .. and you feel like the more you try to be genuinely honest about it, the more you look like that person who deliberately forgets it in order to get out of buying a round at the pub. I think she believed me, I ordered the cheapest thing.
An interesting conversation ensued anyway, check out the final report after my time here to discover the results.
For the rest of the day I worked again at the theatre, stopped at Beer O’Clock for karaoke (sang I Want to Break Free by Queen, smashed it) then went home. As would you believe it, it actually rained… I know crazy.
Wednesday 10th and Thursday 11th saw me work in the flat in the morning. Then work at the Theatre in the evening.
Really was as simple as that.
Ah actually, Thursday lunch time me and Helen did attend a little networking event at the Festival Village where there was free wine and pizza… of course I was there. And we talked to someone called Katie from the Ed Fringe Society. She was doing a panel talk on Friday and an individual one on Saturday, sounded interesting.
And it was …
Friday morning was very informative as I was able to attend a panel discussion. There were individuals from the Copenhagen Fringe, Buffer Fringe in Cyprus, The Avignon Festival, The Edinburgh Fringe Festival and the Milan Fringe. All had very good things to say, relating to the festivals they were representing and the reasons that their fringe stands out, and also encourages International artists to attend. Glad I went, was really good.
Saturday I attended the specific talk given by Katie about the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. I now know exactly the dates and times in which to complete things by if I ever want to go there myself. We agreed to meet up in the afternoon so I could ask her some questions regarding my research; she was more than happy to oblige. When it came to it, she had some good advice regarding what other Nationalities do when trying to have an International outreach at the Ed Fringe. Possibly things could be mirrored here… food for thought.
Sunday is my day off from the theatre, I went to watch the Wimbledon Final in a bar. What a match, what a long long match.
Monday back to the theatre, worked from 10:15 until 17:15 again. Went out and did some leafleting in tourist hot-spots and called at the Tourism Office to try and get some statistics about how many UK Nationals make inquiries there, relating to anything, but hopefully to theatre. It would be useful information to have for the report.
After my shift I went to Beer O’Clock for a drink and got caught up in a promenade performance inside. I say caught up, it was more fear of moving to go the toilet or get a drink and being shouted out by a performer… there was a lot of shouting I must say, there’s something to be said for levels. I remained hostage on my bar stool for roughly 50 minutes, then went home for tea.
Later at 21:45 I finally managed to see the Portrait of Dorian Gray at the Chapeau Rouge. It was brilliant, and again I didn’t understand a word as it was in French, but I know the story so was able to follow.
Finally, yes thank you for sticking around if you have, it gets good again I assure you, I went to the Tache D’Encore at roughly 23:15 as I had been informed during a previous conversation with the technician Alexandre, that the ‘Arts Live’ event at 23:30 would be interesting, and I could possibly meet the actress from America who is performing a piece called Stumble, in English, and would be good for the research.
I spotted a man who I had seen at the Festival Village, darting in and out of a theatre door, whilst also handing out flyers for this ‘Arts Live’ event. He is roughly 60 years old, speaks English and French if my ears serve me well and wearing a linen jacket which was a similar colour to his hair. He looked important, oh no sorry, looked like he thought he was important, but nonetheless was obviously involved in the event, so I approached him to ask when it starts and where do I need to go, and this is how it went …
Gareth: Excuse me (taps man on shoulder)
Man: (doesn’t move, or respond)
Gareth: Sorry, excuse me.
Man: (without looking at Gareth) I’m sorry I don’t have time to talk to you.
Gareth: Oh no, I don’t want a conver –
Man: – What do you want then!?
Gareth: I was just wondering –
Man: I mean look at you (looks Gareth up and down)
Gareth: What do you mean?
Man: Oh nothing (sniggers, to absolutely nobody)
Gareth: Right, thanks for that, well I was just going to ask whether you knew if that (points to stage door) is where the Arts Live event is being held?
Man: Yes, yes it is, are you coming in then? And what was it you want to talk about, I’m very important you know.
Gareth: Look don’t flatter yourself, I have no idea who you are, I just wanted to ask where the event was, and after the way you’ve just spoken to me, I think I’d rather not now thank you. Good day sir.
Man: (scoffs and walks away)
Fair to say, I hope I don’t see him again.
I’ll keep you posted, regularly… I’ll try ok.