Saturday, 3 April 2010

Sophie’s Choice ..... not!

I spoke to the head mistress of the other school and she was not happy either. She was sure that I would be able to do the two jobs, and that I could do teaching 2 afternoons a week. I said that I would have to see what hours the new school wanted me to work.

Thursday I didn’t have to teach English. I was to accompany the children to the local theatre to see a “Spectacle”. The whole school was going and coaches rolled up outside the school to transport us to the Espace Multiculturel which was about a mile away.

I decided to accompany CM2 (I know I must be completely mad). Everyone lined up in twos. Interestingly, Each of the CM2 class has to hold the hand of a child from a younger class. This did not please some of the boys, who ended up having to escort a little girl.

My lot trooped onto the coach. A teacher had got on first and I thought that I would get on last, with the CM2 teacher. However, one of the boys was acting stupid, so the teacher started screaming at him, she had already warned him once and now he was going to have to stay at school and miss the show.

She hauled him off towards the school, and I got on to the bus.

As I walked up the aisle, telling the kids to fasten their seatbelts, the coach set off.

We arrived at our destination. Where was CM2’s teacher, asked the other teacher. I explained that when last seen she was dragging Antoine back to school. She thought this was incroyable. The coach driver had counted 2 adults and had therefore set off, assuming a full complement of teachers.

We waited in twos for the rest of the school to arrive. Well, that was the theory. CM2 were running on pure adrenaline and kung fu seemed to be the order of the day.

Eventually the other coaches arrived with CM2’s teacher and Antoine on board.

We trooped in to the auditorium and the teachers engineered it so that the teenies were at the front of the stage, and the oldest kids were at the rear.

We sat, and we sat. Well I sat and the children revolved in their seats and made other manoeuvres.

The rumour went round that another school was supposed to have arrived and that we would have to wait for them.

Whether this was true or not, I don’t know, because about ten minutes later the “show began”.

Now I have been to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival many times and have seen performances of varying quality. The show that I had to endure was the worst and most boring piece of theatre that I have ever had to sit through.

After 2 minutes I was wondering how I could make it to the exit without anyone noticing me.

On the stage was a desk with drawers, a stuffed fox, some old trunks, and a mirror with lights round it.

A man dressed in a suit entered the auditorium and wandered down the side aisle whilst music played. He took his sodding time, but eventually made it onto the stage. He walked about some more, pulled one coloured net handkerchief out of a pocket and threw it into the air, then another, then another. He picked them up and threw them into the air, keeping all three aloft.

Next he started babbling on. He rolled up his left trouser leg. He sound a red, high-heeled shoe in a box and put it on. He minced about the stage a bit. Next he found an old fashioned, girl’s style dress, which he put on over his suit. He then minced about some more.

He opened various boxes during the performance. The things that stood out for me?

There was a bowl of live goldfish on his desk. From time to time he would whizz his hand round and round in the bowl, in sequence he took 3 fish out of the bowl (I expect he had some fish shaped bits of carrot in the base of the bowl).

He placed the “fish” on the desk and squished them hard with his hand, then he took the sharp carving knife that he had been parading about with and cut up the “fish”. The older children near me were getting upset because they thought he was killing the goldfish.

He started throwing rock salt into the air, some of which must have landed in the bowl with the live fish, ditto garden compost.

He put on a blonde wig. He found a blonde doll which he plonked in a tin bath and covered with talcum powder.

He took a pair of scissors and started cutting off bits of his wig. He plonked the wig on the dolls head and continued chopping away at the wig, and then cut off the dolls hair.

He picked up the doll and dangled it by its legs, jerking it up and down to let the talc cascade onto the floor.

I think you get the gist. A performance well suited for 6 – 12 year old children.

I was speechless, as was the other assistant who comes from Ireland.

I did not get a chance to discuss the show with the French teachers.

Can you imagine all the dead fish and bald babies that would probably have been the result of such a show in the UK? The Royal Society for prevention of cruelty to animals and the RSPCC (cruelty to children) picketing outside the theatre.

The “actor” answered questions from the audience, yes they were real fish, yes it was real compost etc etc. I think he said that the piece was based on a children’s book.

In France Arteests are highly regarded. It doesn’t matter how crap they.

I have done a bit of further research and found that the play is based on a famous children’s book “Les malheurs de Sophie” by the Comptesse de Ségur in 1859

We trooped out into the daylight to wait for the coaches. The usual suspects misbehaving.

Here is some futher info about the theatre company for anyone interested. It is in French, though. Then a bit that appeared in the local paper. I had forgotten all aboout the cutting up of the earthworms.. A story that helped to put the sic into classics.

Google's translation: .THE JOYS OF SOPHIE or experience of the world. then the original French article.LES BONHEURS DE SOPHIE ou l’expérience du monde«Les bonheurs de Sophie» par la Compagnie les 198 os est un spectacle offert par la municipalité aux scolaires jeudi 25 mars à 14h 30 à la salle du jeu du mail.

"The happiness of Sophie" by the Company of the 198 bones is a show hosted by the municipality at the school Thursday, March 25 to 14h 30 to the mail room of the game.
The story: Sophie is a child who does not disaster will experience disasters but in experiences.
Driven by his curiosity to experience new sensations, she cuts earthworms, pluck the wings of a fly, cut his hair and eats up gluttony indigestion ... we guess a little history.
She is one of the great classics of children's writing, it is revisited as Fifi blade of steel.

L’histoire: Sophie est une enfant qui ne va pas de catastrophes en catastrophes mais va d’expériences en expériences.
Portée par sa curiosité à connaître de nouvelles sensations, elle découpe des vers de terre, arrache les ailes d’une mouche, se coupe les cheveux et mange par gourmandise jusqu’à l’indigestion… on devine un peu l’histoire.
Elle fait partie des grands classiques de l’écriture enfantine, elle est revisitée façon Fifi brin d’acier.

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