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Summer In Paris

  • August 17th, 2007
  • Posted by EUEditor

paris-actor-2.jpgThe Summer season for outdoor arts entertainment this year in Paris welcomed performers from Australia. Ingrid Rubie says Australia was the guest country for this year’s Parisian festival — the Quartier d’été.


A program featuring film, contemporary theatre and visual art was organised by the Australia International Cultural Council (AICC) in connection with the Australian Embassy in Paris.

It was an Australian outdoor festival, en plein Paris, in the open air at the Forum des Halles, place des Innocents, running from 5-8.8.07.

The festival featured performances by Australia’s only theatre company with an ensemble of actors with an intellectual disability, Back to Back Theatre, and the didgeridoo player and composer William Barton.

There was also an “Australian Music Week” and a “Night of Australian Cinema.”

The activity was organised both for Paris, and for Kuala Lumpur, to help with commemorations of Malaysia’s first half-century of independence.

The Australia International Cultural Council draws together leaders from government, the arts and business to promote Australia, its tourism and education through art and culture, and to support the promotion of Indigenous arts.


Jean- Jacques Garnier from the French Consulate General in Australia said (14.8.07) the Australian showcase coincided with a significant French cultural event.

“The main event is the Festival Paris Quartier d’été, which chose to have Australia as guest country for this summer,” he said.

“Relationships between Australian and France have been improving and also cooperation in cultural affairs has increased a lot.

“It’s what we can call ‘Cultural Diplomacy’, helping to get people to talk more about Australia in France, and to discovery of the artistic creation of your country in the non English-speaking world.

“We are still working very closely with all the Australian cultural institutions; in 2007 there were more than 80 French cultural act in Australia; so I can tell you that there is a real exchange and cooperation between our two countries”, he told EUAustralia.

“The next step must be some joint work with Australian and French artists, and I hope that it will be on, in 2008 or 2009.”


In the meanwhile members of the ensemble at Melbourne’s Back To back Theatre have been savouring the memory of their encounter with unsuspecting audiences out and about in Paris.

The company’s General Manager, Alice Nash, said this week (17.8.07) the Paris Quartier d’ete was a Summer festival for outdoor works only, suitable for the company’s current production: Small Metal Objects.

“The performance takes place in the public domain, with the actors intermingling with inadvertent members of the crowd.

“We place a formal seating bank in a public space, and the audience wear headphones which gives them exclusive access to the actors’ dialogue and the composed score.

“At the Forum des Halles, it was very, very busy, so often the actors went completely unseen by passers-by (not seated in the audience).

“We commissioned a French version of our text, so the audience had the choice of hearing either just the English version, or the English together with a live in-ear translation in French.

“The text itself is quite lean so there was the capacity to integrate the two, without detracting from the cadence of the piece.

“We did five performances in three days; the audiences started out sparsely and built, and these audiences seemed very moved by the piece — some to tears, dare I say.

“We received one review, a good one, in the newspaper Liberation, and we already have interest for return seasons of the work in regional France, which might be for 2009.

“Nine of us from Back to Back went to Paris; it was a privilege.”

Picture: Australian artist in Paris; scene from the production of Small Metal Objects


Back To Back Theatre, Melbourne: