BEIRUT: Lebanon will be invaded by a wave of artistic and cultural events this March. Organized by the French Institute, the “Francophone Month” includes readings, dance performances, exhibitions, concerts, lectures, activities and workshops, giving the public access to a wide choice of events promoting the French language.
This year’s edition of the “Francophone Month” is gathered under the theme “Revons la Francophonie” (“Let’s dream of [a] Francophone [country]”) and will open March 1 with a reading of French playwright and writer Antonin Artaud’s “Lettres a Genica” (“Letters to Genica”). Performing at the Institute’s Montaigne Theater, French actress, Bond girl and fashion model Carole Bouquet will help the audience discover Artaud’s sentimental world through his letters to Romanian actress Genica Athanasiou, and will show how Artaud was a tortured writer.
Those more interested in dance will have the chance to see the Beirut Dance Company perform at Masrah al-Madina until March 10. Founded by Nada Kano in 2003, the company’s latest performance will explore the relationship between individuals, their adventures and misunderstandings.
On March 14, a unique performance will take place at the Hotel AlBustan as part of their annual festival. The men’s choir of Mezwej Ensemble (directed by Zad Moultaka), saxophonist Joel Versavaud and percussionist Claudio Bettinelli will accompany five singers who will interpret songs and dances from the Bushmen – a tribe from Southern Africa.
Singer Karim Gharbi and guitarist Clement Nourry will perform on March 15 at the French Institute. Gharbi, laureate of the 2010-11 Francophone Biennial of French songs, will plunge the audience into his musical world, inspired by personal anecdotes, encounters and history.
The year’s “Francophone Month” also promotes exhibitions about architecture and heritage. From March 20-24, the Municipality of Jounieh will be transformed into an artistic hub, exhibiting photographs by Daniel Constantinescu, who analyzed the French influence on the architecture of Romanian palaces, buildings and bucolic houses.
If we had to define this initiative by the French Institute in one word, we might choose diversity.
Nine musicians coming directly from the Yerevan State Conservatory will perform on March 24 at Dbayyeh’s Armenian General Benevolent Union Center. Pianists, tenors, violinists and violists will interpret Armenian folk and sacred melodies, along with French songs.
Activities for children are also scheduled, giving kids the opportunity to switch off their computers and technological devices. Actress Valerie Cachard will be present from March 4-8 to explain the importance of French fabulist Jean de La Fontaine, one of the most controversial and well-known literary figures of 17th-century France. Cachard will accompany children in writing their own fables.
If your children are more into graphic activities, however, they will have the chance to learn how to design graffiti with artist Tancrede Perrot (aka TANC.)
From March 12-17, the Monnot Theater will be invaded by storytellers. The 14th edition of the Festival of Tales and Monodrama will offer literary performances by Algeria’s Rachid Akbal, Congolese storyteller Abdon Fortune, Senegal’s Souleymane Mbodj and Boubacar Ndiaye, and Cameroon’s Saidou Abatcha.
Events will also take place in other Lebanese cities, such as Zahle, Tripoli, Deir al-Qamar, Sidon and Tyre (to name a few). The theatrical company Lophophore will present their show “Les Chuchoteurs de Mots” (“The Words Whisperers”), in which a blindfolded man will whisper a text chosen by the audience from three possible books, creating a one-of-a-kind performance where only the voice matters.
The troupe Compas Austral will also present their humoristic show for children more than 5 years old. Directed by Richard Malegue, this play tells the story of Pantoufle, who has numerous problems and repairs needed in his house. Fortunately for him, Professor Arythm – helped by his fellow workers – will solve all of Pantoufle’s problems.
This year’s edition of the “Francophone Month” promises to showcase a wide panel of events that will suit children, as well as grown-ups.
The “Francophone Month” takes place in multiple venues across Lebanon for the whole month of March. For more information, please call 01-420-200 or visit www.institutfrancais-liban.com