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Shakespeare in Paris

Charlotte Pleasants and Patrick Bayele in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. 

Photo: Sabine Dundure Photography

interview

by emma bartel

june 2019

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

how did cygnet start?

The birth of Cygnet was our first play Midsummer Night’s Dream.

I came up with the show with Joshua Stretton. Joshua and I had worked together before on the Paris Fringe festival and we loved working together. He was living in London and we thought we would do one of Shakespeare’s plays. The London people would learn their lines and we (in Paris) would learn ours.

 

After Midsummer Night’s Dream, we thought let’s make it a thing.  Five of us founded the company, and then we went all French and bureaucratic and created an “association”.

 

any future goals?

The goal is to expand. When people get involved in shows, we invite them to be part of Cygnet.

 

After Midsummer Night’s Dream for example, we invited Audrey Mikondon (now stage manager of Twelfth Night).

 

                                                                                          

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

why is it so important in paris?

Precisely because of this huge anglophone community and the fact that most of the time...if they’ve moved here, they like the arts!

what about the french audience? 

We will be able to project subtitles for those who don’t understand  English at some point once we are more established. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

can you tell us more about the cast

They are English speakers but not always native. It’s a very international crew, we have people from the Netherlands, Britain, Austria, France, the US, New Zealand, Ireland and Scotland. They are a  mix of amateur and professional actors. The goal is to bring the amateurs in and help them grow, and it gives the professionals something extra and fun to do. For the French, this is a creative project in which they can have a voice. We don’t have a hierarchy, it’s all quite fluid, we all work together. 

 

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CHARLOTTE PLEASANTS   

CHARLOTTE PLEASANTS & PATRICK BAYELE IN A MIDSUMMER SNIGHT'S DREAM - PHOTO: SABINE DUNDURE   

PHOTO: Joe Wayne 

 A MIDSUMMER SNIGHT'S DREAM - PHOTO: SABINE DUNDURE   

PHOTO: Joe Wayne 

 “Twelfth Night takes place backstage in Illyria, a cabaret long past it’s glory days.

Full of music and laughter, the play should have the audience feeling light –

but not so much that they don’t notice the way each of the characters

have been conditioned to survive in the world of Illyria.''

taylor scott, director

Twelfth NighT

17-21st July

Jardin des arènes de Montmartre

Director: Taylor Scott

Stage manager:Audrey Mikondo

website / facebook

We interviewed Charlotte Pleasants, one of the founders

of the Cygnet Theater at the Café Livres, rue Saint-Martin, Paris about the Shakespeare theater company performing in English and upcoming play Twelfth Night. 

why the name 'cygnet'?

Cygnet is a reference to the Swan Theater

where some of Shakespeare’s plays were performed.

In a way, we are baby swans because we are starting

this Shakespeare project in Paris. ''Cygne'' means swan in French.

"Happiness and anger are tantamount, both feeding off each other as the characters move through the world. This a full production with limited cuts to the script.The characters never leave Illyria, and have created a microcosm inside of the club."

taylor scott, director

what's after

twelfth night? 

We are doing Much Ado About Nothing

in September, it’s going to be set

in the 60’s in a sort of Venice Beach

California seaside hotel. 

is there a high demand for anglophone theater in paris?

I first noticed it when I started Tapis théâtre, a show that

started in my lounge two and a half ago. I select a few people

for the show each time and make sure there’s a wide variety

of performances. It has taken place four times in my flat

and once in an art gallery in the 7th district. It’s a sort of

practice night where people who are developing their work

can come and perform. The stage is a rug so it’s got a very

casual atmosphere. In March this year, it was the 10th edition

and the 2 nights were sold out. The fact that it keeps selling

out means there’s a lot of demand.

There are lots of  international schools, tourists and expats.

There are so many people who speak English in this city and

there is not enough English theater and art.        

paris as a backdrop; does it influence the performance? 

There is an “expat” atmosphere in Midsummer’s Night Dream. The lovers get lost in the forest with the fairies and this forest is the Paris in which English expats pick up a “flâneur” life-style.  The costumes reflect the 1920s, the Belle Époque in Paris, it's interesting that the nostalgia of this particular cliché is what draws many of them to Paris in the first place. They see Paris as a city of literature and art that has preserved its otherness. 

what about venues for the play? 

 

As many of Shakespeare’s plays were performed in outside theaters, we did Midsummer Night’s Dream in the Jardin des arènes of Montmartre. 

Montmartre is also traditionally the “quartier des artistes”.

"There are stars, agents, owners, investors,  assistants, drunks – each trying to get ahead.

However, the question remains, trying to get ahead to where? And to what? These characters aren’t interested in the world as it extends beyond their front door, they live in the here and now of immediate gratification.

The focus is desire, love, and power – and the lengths to which they will go to have all three.”

taylor scott, director

CYGNET THEATER FOUNDERS

 Audrey Mikondo

taylor scott

Joshua Stretton

Emily Guernsey

Charlotte PleasantS

why twelfth night as cygnet's

second play

It’s one of the more famous plays by Shakespeare and we thought it

would also help draw people in for the September play: Much Ado about Nothing. Twelfth Night is quite a ridiculous easy-going fun story and that’s why it is so crowd-pleasing.  There are many women in the cast: Sir Toby and Sir Andrew are played by women, so are Malvolio and Feste. Maybe that’s the gender-bending of this company too, we are five and only one of us is a man. 

Cast

ViolaBriony Martha

Orsino - Joshua Stretton

Sir Toby - Charlotte Pleasants

Sir Andrew - Emily Guernsey

Malvolio  - Hannah Coyle

Sebastian  - Lucien Bonnet

Feste  - Camille Genhart

Antonio  - Marvin Thakkar

Olivia  - Rachella Kingswijk

Maria  - Ali Krasner

Fabian - Lena Lapres

Valentine - Hedda Sonnegård

Curio  - Elizabeth Chanduvi

Captain/Officer  - Matthieu Vinel

INTERVIEW WITH

CYGNET THEATER FOUNDER:

CHARLOTTE PLEASANTS

Twelfth NighT

17-21st July

Jardin des arènes de Montmartre

Director: Taylor Scott

Stage manager: Audrey Mikondo

website / facebook

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