Didier Rousselet : Portraits Parisiens
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“Parisian Portraits” is a performance of soloists, consisting of ten humorous monologues. Five of the them are by Didier Rousselet himself; the five others are adaptations of Charles Cros productions.
The characters, from the Paris of the 19th century and from the outskirts of the Paris of the late 20th century, are indecisive, manic, loud-mouthed, and talk just for the sake of talking. The sketches are funny but the tone set by the whole is more grave, recalling the time that’s going by, seclusion, and lost dreams.
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Actor by training but also an instructor, Didier Rousselet may be invited to an Alliance to perform his play and lead workshops and activities in training in directing principles for teachers the next day.
In the press
Parisian Portraits features five sketches by Rostand contemporary Charles Cros and five in the same spirit by Rousselet. It is done wholly in French, with assistant director Monica Neagoy neutrally translating in English through headsets that the audience picks up during intermission. The English tactfully lags just a beat behind Rousselet’s French, keeping clear of his performance while minimizing the audience problem of trying to digest two voices at once. But it’s Rousselet’s body that makes the big impression. He’s one of those slender, limber performers capable of leaning more severely than the Tower of Pisa. And it’s a joy to watch his red gloved hands make brisk comedy of the sleeping habits of married couples in his “Anti Habit Habit”. Even as a frantic obsessive who skitters around the stage until he’s out of sight, Rousselet husbands his movements, offering terse gestures that eloquently sum up “running” or “riding a train.””Parisian Portraits” gives you a deep appreciation of Rousselet’s sense of economy. He doesn’t move unless he absolutely has to, but when he does, it’s art.
The Washington Post
He delivers the short pieces in a classic mime costume (sans whiteface makeup) of black trousers and shirt, red tie, suspenders and gloves and blue shoes with red shoestrings. It heightens the impact as he stands alone on a black-draped stage. This isn’t reality he’s trying to create. It is pure theater.
The Arlington Connection
Le Neon Theatre has managed to make the Spectrum Theatre intimate and is putting on a dazzling production of Theater and French Wit : A Double Bill that is full of humor, passion and pathos…all in a very engaging acting style. Didier Rousselet is a near genius pantomimist and chameleon-like actor and he brings out two wonderful performances by Chris Davenport and Barbara Papendorp as they condense the highlights of the story of Cyrano de Bergerac. With a wonderful admixture of French and English, there is no need for translation since the three are so wonderfully nuanced in interpretation. The second act is composed of monologues by Didier Rousselet as he wonderfully attitudinizes a typical Parisian gentleman who is full of social satire and sometimes dim wit.
Bob Anthony / Arts Critic
This will be an introduction to drama techniques led by Didier Rousselet.
- Duration: a workshop of 3 or 4 hours. The possibility exists for two workshops in the same day.
- Participants: teachers/instructors in high school or university, librarians
- Number of participants: a minimum of 5, ideally 8 to 12, a maximum of 15
- Objectives: To help teachers enliven their classes and therefore be more effective. To provide more assurance to the teachers themselves: the teachers will be in the position that they will ask their students to be in. They will dare to get up from where they’re seated and the complete reassurance of reading along and have to throw themselves into improvisation and movement, and they will discover that they actually like it
- Sequence of the activities:
The point of departure will be a short text (about one page), preferably contemporary: the passage from a novel, a novella, poem, newspaper article. We’ll proceed to a rapid commentary: situation, characters, general ideas, and difficulties in the vocabulary or expression.
We’ll then go in succession from a reading that’s out loud, to a reading with several voices, to a reading with feeling.
Then we’ll do the reading in a space, using the mime and a voice-off, as well as actors and a narrator. We’ll go progressively then from simple reading to theater. At each stage we’ll try different variations by changing the rules and the roles. Everyone participates, has fun, and gets initiated during the course of the session to the laws of dramatic arts (how you move about, how you don’t move when another actor is speaking, etc). Most importantly, everyone becomes conscious of the importance of the voice, of the body, and of working in a group to convey the meaning of the text.
Optional approach: In order to work more on the expression of the body and improvisations, a workshop could be devised to last the entire day (6 to 8 hours). In this case several texts could be chosen or the possibility exists for going further along with the dramatic exercises in order to have, by the end of the afternoon a real mini production.
Please take note: Each person makes discoveries during the activities. The stages are not announced in advance but at the end of the session there’s time for reflecting on the activities. Practice is thus reinforced by theory which sustains the teachers in their efforts to carry the experience over to their classrooms.