Archives for posts with tag: France

Freezing my feet off on a train platform (despite fancy new angora socks and fidgety dance moves) was worth the sight of an almost empty frost-incrusted Chateau de Versailles.

No crowds. Quiet and crisp.


Frosty dude.


Perfectly still lake in the gardens.


The palace with mist and shallow frozen puddles perfect for cracking.


Royal sheep


Peter Brook turned 90 yesterday and he’s still at it.

I feel very lucky to have seen a couple of his productions in my life. Once, when he brought Sizwe Banzi est mort to Montreal and then when we went to Paris and I finally had the chance to set foot in the Bouffes du Nord theatre.

As a once-aspiring theatre director myself (I am no longer aspiring in the sense that I have more or less given up), he inspired me with his writings and ideas and experiments. His 60-year-old production of Titus Andronicus became the backbone of my MA dissertation (for which I cherish and hate him. The reasons for these feelings will be obvious to anyone who has written a dissertation about anything). One of the most magical (nerdiest?) moments of my research was when I found my way to the theatre museum archives in London and, while leafing through Brook’s prompt book, worked on deciphering his penciled notes in the margins.

He is an important director with a career spanning 65 years. He is still working. And in January, I got to see his production of Beckett’s Fragments at the theatre he found in 1974 as the home for his company.


Théâtre Bouffes du Nord, before the show

I was happy to be able to smugly say that I would be seeing Beckett in Paris, darling. But I was mostly happy to see the insides of this theatre. I was relieved and thrilled, really, that the building had the same magical feeling that BAM’s Harvey Theater had (also renovated for a Peter Brook production).

You can feel the history, the age, the ghosts in this theatre. The wooden seats, the unpolished clockwork-like ceiling, the distressed paint on the walls… It was great that the performance was funny and moving and that the chosen pieces exposed Beckett’s silly, human side (he can be a bit bleak, can’t he?), but I wouldn’t have cared because the space was so rich in its simplicity (much like Brook’s direction). A bit of history and lots more pictures can be found here.

People of all ages in fancy and/or bohemian Parisian garb sat on the floor in the front rows. We sat on the shallow balcony next to a couple of theatre students with hearty laughs. The place was full.

Bouffes interior

This is the inside of the theatre (stolen from Wikipedia).

I was on a high after the show- the theatre, the play, Katherine Hunter’s amazing voice, being in Paris, taking the metro to a neighbourhood I’d never seen, having a boyfriend who will enthusiastically go see Beckett- but the night was still young. There was still steak frites and wine and beer to have and an old friend to see.

My new year’s resolution to write (more often, more consistently, better, at all) has all but been forgotten. But February 17th is a new day and to kick things off around here with a manageable post, to dust off the key board and get back into the world of words, here are some pictures from my recent escape to Iceland and France. Enjoy!

We flew to Paris with Iceland Air, taking advantage of their free stop-over option. Just a short one because Iceland is very expensive. Surprisingly for an expensive place, many hotels and shops and random ice-cream shops in the middle of nowhere will give you free coffee. “No charge,” they’d say. And we’d be happy and warm and awake.

On our first day, the only place we felt we could afford in Reykjavik was a salad and soup buffet- unlimited food and a nice ambiance!  The rest of the time we feasted on grocery-store nibbles (not pictured).

This soup was coconut (Thai-inspired) and delicious and warmed my insides. It was so good I didn't think to take a picture until it was pretty much done.

This soup was coconut (Thai-inspired) and delicious and warmed my insides. It was so good I didn’t think to take a picture until it was pretty much done.

We had heard about some sort of famous hot dogs that are a staple of drunken Icelanders. We put all our krona together and bought a couple.

Don't tell Iceland, but these hot dogs are just as horrible as they look. Both parties got sick after eating these. Never trust weird creamy mustard crap.

Don’t tell Iceland, but these hot dogs are just as horrible as they look. Both parties got sick after eating them. Never trust weird creamy mustard crap.

Our flight to Paris was cancelled due to wind, but we managed to afford another day in Iceland by getting a hotel room and meals paid for (thanks, Iceland Air!)


This was our official voucher for our dinner at Olsen Olsen, issued by the hotel.


This is an Icelandic hamburger and fries meal. They have powdered ketchup if you want your fries to taste like ketchup chips.

When we got to Paris (just a day later than expected), we mostly made ourselves baguette with ham and butter, being the thrifty foodies we are. These were eaten in various cemeteries and on basilica steps.

There were exceptions to the ham and baguettes since we wanted to sample Parisian delicacies. Obviously.

We braved the line-up at a very popular “best falafel” place in Le Marais and I didn’t order falafel.


This is a chicken shwarma as big as my hand.


This is the chicken schwarma after I ate it (with help).

After walking off the schwarma and falafel, we stopped for your typical patisseries.


This is a chocolate eclair. I forgot to take a picture until I was halfway done.

Moving on to dinner, Paris is the city to indulge in prix-fixe, multi-course bistro dining.

For my birthday, I was taken to such a fancy-pants establishment. Check out what I ate (all in one sitting!):


It was such a fancy-pants place that they gave us beautiful bread and a terrine and pickles. I forgot to take a picture before we massacred it.


Fully knowing it was going to be far too rich for an appetizer, I still ordered a shrimp risotto with squid ink. The presentation was much nicer before I was half-way through with it (pictured here).


This was some kind of lamb. I might remember what it was more clearly if I had remembered to take a picture before I was done eating.


Delicious chocolate and cherry dessert. Looks a mess here but was quite nice when it arrived at the table when most instagrammers photograph their food.

We had big plans of avoiding touristy things and just, you know, being in Paris. Instead, we got Nutella-banana crêpes and went up the Eiffel Tower.


Crêpe et tour Eiffel. Looks gross. Wasn’t.

So that was a compilation of some of the food I ate. One day I will write some posts about the beauty of a frosted-over Versailles, the amazing geothermal wonders of Iceland, and all the things brought into relief when you’re used to travelling solo and then suddenly aren’t.

As I am not quite travelling yet and therefore don’t have much to report, I thought I’d take part in HostelBookers 7 Super Shots.  It’s given me a chance to look back at old photos and remind myself of why I’m embarking on a long trip as I remember the good times, the sunny times and the harder times. So here are my 7 shots.

A photo that takes my breath away

A view of the Bahamas from the plane. The colours, the fact that humans can fly above the clouds (or at all)…


A photo that makes me laugh or smile

She’s going to hate me for posting this, but this is my favourite photo of Debbie ever. It was taken at the Columbia Flower Market in London. I smile when I see it because I can hear her laugh from over the ocean.


A photo that makes me dream

Cheetahs make me dream- don’t they make you dream? And also the sun was setting and being there felt like a dream and thinking back on it feels like a dream.


A photo that makes me think

Taken from the TGV from Avignon to Paris. It makes me think about time. You know- how things just go by so quickly? But somehow aqueducts from Roman times remain strong.


A photo that makes my mouth water

Tiramisu, gelato, cappuccino. Delicious times in Boston’s North End.

A photo that tells a story

What are these two up to? Where have they been? Where are they going? And what’s up with the beards and hats? San Francisco


A photo that I am most proud of (aka my worthy of National Geographic shot)

Driving away from the Serengeti (Tanzania)- a family of giraffes walking through the strangely-coloured landscape.  My favourite picture from that trip. Maybe ever.

I’m not sure if you’ve done this or not yet, but I’d love to see your shots! I hereby nominate the following awesome blogs to post your photos if you like:

1- Ooamerica

2- Plan A

3- Folk & Fables

4- Kiwsparks

5- Where’s my Backpack?

March 27th is World Theatre Day!

Even with translations, theatre festivals like the World Stage in Toronto, and theatre companies touring the globe, it’s sometimes possible to get a glimpse of the theatre that is happening around the world.

But theatre is a live event, and you have to actually be in a place, during a time, to experience it. And thing is, with the Internet, we know what shows we’re missing in the places we are not.

So it got me thinking: if I were somewhere else in the world on March 27th, which play would I attend to celebrate World Theatre Day?

Here are a few of my picks (turns out the world is big and there’s a lot going on).  Maybe one of you could go check these out for me and report back?

I’m going to start with my top pick (because it’s a festival of international theatre, so I’m totally cheating) and the rest is in no particular order.

BOGOTÁ, Colombia
Festival Iberoamericano de Teatro
The Latin American Theatre Festival is like the best of the entire world of theatre crammed into one city. Theatre will literally be spilling out of traditional theatre spaces and into the streets. 33 countries are represented, but Romania is featured this year, which should mean there’ll be a lot of bold, theatrical stuff out there. Such as:

BROOKLYN, United States of America
‘Tis Pity She’s a Whore  by John Ford, directed by Declan Donnellan
At the Brooklyn Academy of Music, Harvey Theater
Because it’s a 17th century play about incest (ie: controversial), produced by one of the coolest large theatre companies in the UK, Cheek by Jowl.

Lydia Wilson and Jack Gordon in ’Tis Pity She’s a Whore, at BAM
Photo by Richard Termine

LONDON, England
Roald Dahl’s Matilda the Musical  by Dennis Kelly (book) and Tim Minchin (music+lyrics)
At the Cambridge Theatre
Because I adored the book so much as a child and that my doubts about this one were squashed by people who know what they’re talking about. It’s got swings! And it doesn’t seem to have washed out too much of Roald Dahl’s irreverence and joy.

The RSC Production of Roald Dahl's Matilda The Musical. Photo by Manuel Harlan

BERLIN, Germany
Lulu by Frank Wedekind, directed by Robert Wilson.
At the Berliner Ensemble
Because I don’t know where would be better to see this twisted, gritty, expressionist play about the rise and fall of a femme fatale than at the theatre founded by Brecht in 1949.  And with the legendary Robert Wilson at the helm and music by Lou Reed, I’d be there in a heartbeat (knowing full well I wouldn’t understand a word). Just look at it:

Photo © Lesley Leslie-Spinks

Peninsula by Gary Henderson, directed by Jane Waddell
At Circa Theatre
Because it’s about a kid who sleeps on a volcano.


SYDNEY, Australia
Every Breath written and directed by Benedict Andrews
At Belvoir St Theatre
Because I’m obsessed with Benedict Andrews (check out the production photos on his website and you’ll see what I mean) and I’d be curious to see a show written by such an imaginative, innovative, courageous director.

Every Breath

NEW YORK, United States of America
Once– the musical. By Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová (music+lyrics), Enda Walsh (book), directed by John Tiffany
At the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre
This is a Broadway musical based on one of the most subtly romantic, charmingly unpretentious films, so my initial reaction upon hearing this play existed was a terrified guffaw. I love the movie. But then I saw that the book was written by Enda Walsh.  So it couldn’t be too bad. I’d go because it could be good.

Photo: Sara Krulwich/The New York Times

Mary’s Wedding by Stephen Massicotte, directed by Bob White
At Martha Cohen Theatre, Alberta Theatre Projects
A beautiful script full of things Canadians love (horses, weddings, the First World War…), staged at one of Canada’s most exciting theatres (which I have never been to).

CAPE TOWN, South Africa
Brothers in Blood by Mike van Graan, directed by Greg Homan
At Artscape
This one looks explosive, taking on as many taboo topics as will fit in one award-winning play: xenophobia, religious arrogance, the drug trade, fatherhood…

Brothers in Blood

Midsummer (une pièce et neuf chansons)  by David Greig and Gordon McIntyre, translated by Olivier Choinière, directed by Philippe Lambert
At La Petite Licorne/La Manufacture 
This “play and nine songs” was a hit at the Edinburgh Fringe a few years ago, and that it’s being staged at my favourite theatre in Montreal (which happens to have a long history of staging amazing translationsof new Scottish, Irish, and British plays), so it’s bound to be awesome.

Isabelle Blais and Pierre-Luc Brillant
Photo credit: Suzane O'Neill

PARIS, France
The Suit by Peter Brook and Marie-Helène Estienne, based on the story by Can Themba
At Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord
Because it’s a musical by Peter Brook.

TOKYO, Japan
Condors “Hungry Like a Wolf” directed and choreographed by Ryohei Kondo
At the Setagaya Public Theatre
A children’s show that combines dance, theatre, skits, and puppetry. I’m in, if a kids’ show looks like this:

photo by HARU

VIENNA, Austria
Das blinde Geschehen by Botho Strauß, directed by Matthias Hartmann
At Burgtheater
I can only get so far with Google translate, so I’m not too sure what this is about, but it’s really just the images of this play that make me want to jump on a plane and go to Austria.

Alexandra Henkel, Christiane von Poelnitz, Adina Vetter, Regina Fritsch, Hermann Scheidleder, and Sabine Haupt.
Photo copyright: Reinhard Werner, Burgtheater

Photo copyright: Reinhard Werner, Burgtheater

Diving in the Moment directed by 張藝生
At the Hong Kong Repertory Theatre
I’m not sure exactly what this play is, but it looks cool. [Stay tuned for more fascinating and informed insights like this one- subscribe to my blog.]

Diving in the Moment

Krishnan’s Diary by Jacob Rajan
At  the Singapore Repertory Theatre
Apparently this play takes two of the most universal Indian clichés – the Taj Mahal and the corner store – and fuses them into a funny and touching love story. An Indian play about a couple who moves to New Zealand, staged in Singapore: perfect for World Theatre Day!

Krishnan's Diary

Dybet by Jon Atli Jonasson
At Teater Får302
Because “The Deep” is an Icelandic play based on a true story of  the sinking of a fishing boat being staged in Denmark. I have a think for Danish acting.

ROME, Italy
I Masnadieri by Friedrich Schiller, directed by Gabriele Lavia
Teatro di Roma
Because why not see a Schiller play in Rome?

Photo: Il Rossetti

I haven’t even scratched the surface of all the exciting theatre happening in the world this week. What will you be doing to celebrate World Theatre Day on Tuesday?