Praline Gay-Para

Contes du monde et de l'Ile-de-France

Take any fact from real life, even something that at first glace is nothing special, and if only you have the eye, you will find a depth in it that Shakespeare does not have.


Praline Gay-Para is a modern storyteller. She is an artist “who is comfortable in her own head and whose roots are in her shoes”.  She offers an interactive performance in French or English for children aged 7 to 77, a sort of cross between stories of yesteryear and tales of today, the rural world and the urban universe. Praline Gay-Para draws her inspiration from our modern environment and from living legends created each day in the hearts of our cities.  They are, in effect, short films about daily life which reflect the universality of the world.

The Artist

Fascinated with repertory, Praline Gay-Para has been telling stories from all seven continents to a wide range of audiences since 1981 – tales from yesterday and today. Since 1988, she has been conducting research on contemporary urban repertory: tales of life, trivial events, and rumors. She is engaged in theoretical reflection on the oral character and has embarked upon the task of transcribing a number of oral memories on the city- or neighborhood-level, leading to publications or performances which she stages alone or in collaboration with other artists.

Thus was the origin of the 2005 Récits de mon île, l’Ile de France : I collect urban stories, I  gather up all the stories of the lives of people I meet, I walk up and down streets, I stroll around, I jot down my impressions, I take pictures of graffiti. I am attentive to the city and its breathing. I wanted to assemble the stories I’ve heard over twenty years on my island, l’Ile-de-France – an island that swims on the earth, on all of the earth.

For years she has been collaborating with artists from a variety of disciplines to stage indoor and outdoor performances, or ephemeral forms.  These artists include storytellers (Abbi Patrix, Muriel Bloch, etc.), musicians (Sylvain Cartigny, Jean-François Piette, Simon Mary, etc.), singers (Haim Isaacs, Sandra Nkaké, etc.), plastic artists (Christine Buri-Hersche, etc.) and dancers (Mick Guillaume, Satchie Noro, etc.).

Since publishing her dissertation on ethnolinguistics in 1985, in addition to her performances, she has also written a number of collections of stories:  Contes curieux des quatre coins du monde, Actes Sud, Babel, June 2007 ; Sous la peau d'un homme, Didier Jeunesse, April 2007 ; Le prince courageux, et autres contes d’Ethiopie, Syros, Paroles de conteurs, Paris, 2003 ; Contes Populaires de Palestine, Babel, Paris, 2003 ; La parole du monde, entretiens avec Geneviève Calame-Griaule, Mercure de France, Paris, 2002 ; Contes du Liban, L'Ecole des Loisirs, coll. Neuf, Paris, 2000 ; Oriyou et le pêcheur et autres contes de la Caraïbe L'Ecole des Loisirs, coll. Neuf, Paris, 1999.

She works regularly with the Maison du Conte, both on training and outreach, and on designing artistic events.


Contes des neuf continents
A solo performance by the storyteller.  50 to 70 minutes.  Ages 7 and up.

À la carte stories, designed for your wishes, your desires, your yearnings.  We will mix up the stories and geographical region.  You organize the program and I tell the story. The audience begins by expressing its wishes: a geographical area, a character, a place, a theme. The storyteller responds to these with an eclectic repertory from the four corners of the earth. The traditional and the contemporary become entangled, the continents blend one into the other and stories gush forth.
Praline Gay-Para 


Récits de mon île: récits de vies, rumeurs urbaines, légendes contemporaines
A solo performance by the storyteller.  50 to 70 minutes.  Ages 9 and up.

Fragments of lives on my island, l’Ile-de-France. Cities are populated by stories, tales from life, urban legends and trivial events that are passed on by word of mouth. They are short clips of daily life which reflect the universality of the world.The supernatural is on the street corner or at every turn in the story. Praline Gay-Para blurs the boundaries between the real and the imaginary.

Link to the artist’s site and audio excerpts:

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Related Sites

  • Fondation Alliance Française
  • Alliance Française de Paris
  • Cultural Services of the French Embassy
  • Federation of Alliance Française USA

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