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Collaboration with community theatre in Provence

French PlayBetween Wednesday 15 and Friday 17 February 2012 the French Department Theatre Group staged “Le Malade imaginaire” by Molière in the University Drama Studio. The director was Professor David Walker.

This show formed part of an ongoing programme of collaboration with the TRAC theatre company (‘Théâtre rural d’animation culturelle’) of Beaumes de Venise in Provence.

The TRAC visit to Sheffield was part-financed by the French Embassy in London – and made possible also by the students who put up the visiting actors. The exciting thing about these encounters is that the TRAC is not an educational institution but instead operates with the support of the French Ministry for 'social cohesion', i.e. it is a community-based enterprise and a part of governmental policy for youth and culture. The actors and technical staff, though of professional calibre, are not actually professionals but young people undergoing training, with a view to finding a career whether in or outside the theatre. So, the contacts between our students and the TRAC company have established dialogue between groups that ordinarily would not have had the chance to interact.

After initial meetings in 2010 and 2011 the TRAC extended an invitation to us to take our Molière production to Beaumes and perform it in the TRAC's theatre.

French Play v2Between 15th and 18th March our cast took up this invitation and staged the production in the ‘Salle Fracasse’, the theatre which the TRAC have purpose-built in their home village of Beaumes de Venise. Travel to Provence was part-financed by an award from the Faculty of Arts Enterprise Fund.

Our group was provided with accommodation and hospitality by members of the TRAC. On the evening of Friday 16th March we were treated to the première of Le Malade imaginaire by the TRAC troupe, performed with the musical and choreographic panache which is their hallmark. This was followed by ‘Pantalone vote Sarko’, a virtuoso satirical one-man-show by Vincent Siano the TRAC’s director, in anticipation of the presidential elections.

On Saturday 17th March it was our turn; after a morning rehearsing and refining technical details in the ‘Salle Fracasse’, we performed our Malade imaginaire before a highly receptive audience who applauded generously and complimented our cast on their ‘prouesse’.