Saturday, 21 May 2011

State of play of the Union

1974 by Teatro Meridional
©L. Rossetti, Phocus Agency
 “Europe is not a continent, it’s an idea, a vision of the world.”  
When he accepted the Europe Theatre Prize in 2007, Canadian director Robert Lepage could have been quoting Robert Schumann, whose proposal in May 1950 became the foundation for the European Union. Fifty years later, the issues have shifted from preventing war to protecting the economy, but the goal of cooperation remains.

One of the many projects created and funded by the now 27 EU countries, the Europe Theatre Prize recognises work that bridges European borders. In April, the 14th Prize was awarded to German director and European icon Peter Stein, in St Petersburg, Russia’s imperial “window to the west” itself a city of over 80 theatres. The event was attended by a few hundred journalists, directors, actors and VIPs from all over the continent, with only two things in common: interest in theatre and a general lack of ability to speak Russian. Or Icelandic, Finnish, Czech or Portuguese, which is where the winners of the festival’s other award, “New Theatrical Realities”, hailed from.   

Read the rest of the article at the Irish Eyes site

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Working rights on May Day

Great sunny productive May Day Sunday - I made a commitment (gulp) to co-chair the Communications Committee for ACP; had a lovely coffee chat with Brendan and then Gail at Tribeca, did a fun ACP tour with foks from Cambridge and Pennsylvania, and then, instead of rooting for more Robert B Parker novels at the American Library shelves because it was closed for the holiday, spent an hour on a warm park bench in the Champ de Mars, with the Eiffel Tower looming over.
Lots of families; I rediscovered the cruelty of children and their intense focus on the moment, from a sobbing little girl chasing a boy who'd stolen a bright red toy, to a stoic little boy squatting in the dirt to capture a live wasp in a plastic beastie box. In contrast, his friend watched, jumping up and down, aghast, fascinated, nervous.
We adults have the same capacities for cruelty and fun, but we get so distracted, uptight and stressed - speaking of which, I totally forgot that this weekend is the one-year anniversary for buying my apartment! And my OECD twitter account is about to flip to 10,000 followers! Break out the champagne. 

Monday, 25 April 2011

Russian light

Sunny day on rue Cler, peaceful and warm Easter Monday, sitting at Tribeca with coffee to polish my article on last week’s Europe Theatre Prize festival in St Petersburg. Tough to find any strong links between Russia and Ireland other than February’s diplomatic scandal, when Russian spies were accused of using Irish passports in the US. Erg, peace broken here too, a couple of musicians are setting up on the pavement facing me, with a trombone and karaoke machine. Jazz swing, could be worse I guess, although Nina Simone she’s not.
As the sun shifts and I scoot my chair over to keep up with the rays, I wonder whether to mention in my piece about suffering from social media withdrawal all week. How can a theatre festival with a focus on pan-European solidarity ignore the latest global communication tools? My friend Molly argued that theatre critics are less interested in nerd technology and casual repartee than they are with serious analysis and , I suppose, formal profundity. Sniff. But maybe I’m just a twitter snob.
Meanwhile, parents and small kids have gathered around the music, a two-year-old is bobbing back and forth to the beat, a couple of little girls are swinging their arms and bouncing their knees, and it’s too much fun to write anything serious. Ah, yes, the song they’re singing is “I’m Beginning to See the Light”. 

Sunday, 2 January 2011

Movin up to 2011

Omigosh, it's been practically a whole year without a blog entry. Got a great excuse, though, after taking the plunge into the murky depths of Paris apartment ownership and - erg - renovation, I surfaced with a great renter in November, just in time for a challenging 9-month internship for OECD's 50th anniversary.

Meanwhile, started teaching Pilates and hired a couple of Zumba teachers for the ACP fitness programme, big success! Introduced a new frequent-user card, and am just about to kick off the New Year Training.

Where will all this risk-taking end? (I vote for the beach!)

Sunday, 7 February 2010

Haiti and Heart

Speaking of fundraisers...the Paris Fitness fundraiser was a success on 6 February. Thanks to a great group of fitness fans, the expat community and the American Church, we raised 1300 euros to give to GOAL, who were one of the first aid agencies in Port-au-Prince.

Hearts for Haiti is another kind of fundraiser, again at the American Church, 19h, Friday 12 February. It's a jazz and gospel concert, with Paris legends Archie Shepp and Bobby Few, along with singer Joan Minor and poet Moe Seager.

And here's the 3rd event at the ACP, on Saturday 13 February, not a fundraiser, just an awareness-raiser: S.O.S. 101, an introduction to emergency care. From 11h-13h, I'll be presenting an overview of how to react in an emergency, including what numbers to call and a look at CPR, rescue breathing and helping a choking victim. We'll have hands-on practice and lots of Q&A. Everyone is welcome!

And I bet you thought the American Church was only open on Sundays...


Thursday, 15 October 2009

Climate Change - BAD09

I love jumping on the bandwagon when the ride is for a good cause! Everyone who publishes a blog is encouraged to write about climate change today, so I've got the OECD Twitter team tweeting it up.

Lots of resources over here, from the OECD page on climate change, to the OECD Observer magazine, for whom the SecGen has written that climate change is the biggest threat to economic recovery.

But what made the biggest impression on me lately was a lecture - no, an outer space tour - by Dr Loren Acton, an ex-astronaut and geo-physicist whose specialty is the science of solar flares. He was at the American Church as part of their series on the science/religion dichotomy, but most of his talk was about the wonder of space, enthralling us with slide after video after slide from the space shuttle.

One image of the earth from the shuttle was especially impressive, and Dr Acton said it was frightening to see how very thin the planet's atmosphere is (here are other examples), with almost the delicacy of a bubble. The space between the cloud cover and the edge of the atmosphere is hardly discernible. He followed up with powerful visuals of solar flares and an explanation of the physics of global warming. I bet if he'd passed a hat for money to fight climate change, we would have raised a ton.

So come along for the ride, post on the Blog Action Day and say your bit about climate change.

Sunday, 27 September 2009


Brrrrr, brisk chilly birthday morning, cycling to rue Cler and - watch out, everyone's on wheels! An 8-year-old surfs down the sidewalk like a pro, a couple of 6-year-olds cross the street kicking their trottinettes, there are a couple of little girls on pink plastic bicycles struggling to navigate the market crowd, and of course a toddler in her plastic push-me tricycle. The velibs, strollers and shopping "chariots", we're mixing it all up with pedestrians, dogs and fruit stands.

There is even a circle of poussettes in audience around the organ grinder, parents pulling in to park their toddlers in front of him while he plays La Vie en Rose.

Tribeca's patio heaters are thankfully on so I take a table in the front row, wait for the sun to come around. Oops, here comes the rinse water down the gutter, swirling around our bags on the pavement. After warning the mom next to me, she/Isabelle and her daughter/Tiphaine start chatting, and we discover we both want to master Italian, wish we could afford to buy a big Paris apartment, and love the city but appreciate the country. 

Ended up meeting her distinguished father, and then a handful of her friends who pulled up chairs to describe the Vie en Rose party they'd thrown last night in Versailles - which included a ride out in a pink stretch limo. Sounded like fun but nowhere near as enjoyable as sharing my own birthday fete with my special circle of friends. Yep, a year older, lots of exciting challenges, and I am  grateful-issimmo to have such incredible friends along for the ride. Turn, turn, turn.

Sunday, 13 September 2009

Tourist care & feeding

There's a sort of look that tourists have, that distinguishes them from the locals. It's not the guidebooks or matching red windbreakers or comfy running shoes, but more a sort of self-conscious dis-engagement, looking at the storefronts, glancing at passers-by, discreetly scoping out places to sit or not at Tribeca, hoping not to be noticed. We all know the feeling, I do it myself even in Rome, my foster home.
So when a father and his son sat down at the next table and started nervously translating the menu out loud, it felt callous not to pull them into the comfort of the cafe chatter, even in English. And hey, I was charmed that they couldn't pick out my American accent. And they shared a good story about how once the head of Airbus unexpectedly gave them a personal tour around the Toulouse factory.
They left and I basked in the sun. Although summer is getting blown away by brisk gusts of chilly autumn air, the rays were still July-hot, and families were out for a stroll and a shop. Tribeca's sunny front-line tables were all claimed by 11h, and the terrace was full by noon. That's when I left, wound my bike through crowds, past the cheery organ-grinder and the competing soulful Peruvian pipes, and back to the ACP to train folks to be tour guides at the American Church, for next week's Journee du Patrimoine.
Yes, taking care of the tourists! Wish me good karma when I next hit the Eternal City.

Sunday, 6 September 2009

Really the rentrée

"Always late but worth the wait". Sitting at Tribeca this morning, I kept noticing t-shirts, not so much for the sayings on them as for the fact that so many women wore nothing beneath them. Not just t-shirts, of course, there were also plunging necklines with freckled cleavage, a bouncy black-striped balcony that passed by in profile, pointy bits under a grey knit dress - you get the idea. Guess everyone felt like stretching the summer mood into this final sunny weekend.

Sunny it was, too, bright, colourful - and after the summer calm, noisy! Vendors were clamouring, kids chattering, dogs barking and whining, the accordion-player in front of the fruit stand competing with the guitarist near the cheese shop. And lucky me, the rentrée brought friends to share breakfast this morning: Aldo back from Sardinia, pulling up on his bicycle, elegant even without his usual bow tie; Brendan recuperating from his urban holidays and touring China with son Sean; and Tara in for a week from London, looking graceful and healthy despite her feasting cruise around the Greek islands.

So what's up for the fresh new season? Let's see, besides fixing my kitchen, I aim to formalise my fitness business, get citizenship and buy an apartment, before Christmas. Ambitious? As Tribeca manager, La Chef, said, "it's great to be back in Paris, we're all full of joy and lightness after the holidays. I give it 15 days." Wait and see.

Sunday, 23 August 2009

Summer travels

Lovely weekend down south, thanks to super-TGV. Stayed overnight in charming Narbonne, in an elegant mansion-turned-hotel, got to sit at 11pm on the canal, listening to a jazz band and gulping down a crisp cool panache. For some reason, there was a truck parked nearby with three live bears, each in their own cage, and they were still eating from cake pans when I saw them. Very odd, and a bit sad of course.
Next morning to Perpignan and Mont-Louis, for a couple of days of hiking in the Pyrenees, beautiful fresh air, views across the mountains to Spain. The fruit - peaches and mirabelles incredibly sweet and juicy, why can't we get them like that in Paris?
Then back to work, classes, ACP, the Paris heatwave, and the end of summer in sight. Sigh. Did discover an excellent rosé wine this summer, note this down: Minuty. Cheers!