jeudi, février 15, 2007

La Cantatrice Chauve and 3some @ Le Pulp

Well, I went into work late (to make up for the overtime yesterday) and left on time, so I had a pretty nice day at work today. Also, one of my colleagues had extra tickets to a recent re-staging of La Cantatrice Chauve, so me and DJ suddenly had evening plans. I was supposed to also see a friend for an apéritif after work, but his last class of the day got out just before the play started, so we pushed it back to next week.

La Cantatrice Chauve (The Bald Soprano) is an absurdist work by Eugene Ionesco, who was apparently inspired by a set of bizarre dialogues he found while learning English using the Asimil method. Mr and Mrs Smith are an English couple that, eventually, have another couple (the Martins) over for dinner, which is interrupted by several things, including their jester-like maid, and a fireman searching house-to-house for fires. The play is a series of barely-related vignettes, with many moments of self-contradiction, errors in speech, and slips in logic (e.g. "How lovely that you came to dinner uninvited; how dare you arrive late?!"). The title of the play comes from a line delivered by the fireman, just before he takes his leave, where he asks suddenly "And what of the Bald Soprano?" This apparently freaks everyone out, and finally one character says "She always wears her hair the same way," and everyone seems relieved. If you can read French, there are some juicy excerpts here. The play comes to a confusing climax, which ends right back at the beginning of the play, with the Martins playing the roles of the Smiths and vice-versa.

There were in fact several possible endings suggested by the original playwright, some of which were difficult to stage (i.e., destroying the set every night) or illegal (inciting a revolution within the audience and then shooting the audience members). The original staging at Theatre de la Huchette (which has been running continuously since 1957, much like the Mousetrap in England) simply runs back to the beginning of the play with the roles switched, and then stops arbitrarily; however, this "new" staging at Théâtre Athénée takes this same loop strategy, then interrupts it when all the characters come on stage, address the audience, and hold an impromptu lecture on the various possible endings. The idea of discussing the endings rather than actually doing any one of them is sorta neat, but it ran about 30 minutes longer than it needed to. One other change they made to this "newer" version was that they shifted the emotional delivery of many of the lines, emphasizing a darker and more awkward interaction between the various characters.

Anyway, the play was good, although I really want to go see the original one now, so that I can make a comparison. There was certainly a lot of humour to be found in the script. Mind you, I nearly missed the play, because I was running late and missed my connection on the métro at République. The theatre itself was beautiful; it was an old theatre obviously dating from the time before amplified sound, since the main floor didn't go further back than 30 rows and 20 seats across, but there were 3 balconies above it.

After the play, DJ and I headed over to Place des Vosges to grab a drink and some food at a café there (Café Hugo). After 1 litre of wine (between the two of us) and a great deal of UofC-related chatter, we staggered back to the métro and headed home. I, however, wanted to go out to Le Pulp for another one of their Thursday night events, particularly since tonight's program included a bunch of people from the Crosstown Rebels label. (The last time I was there was about three weeks ago.)

3some @ Le Pulp: Shonky, Dyed Soundorom and Jamie Jones

12h00?-3h45: Jamie Jones

It was already 1am when I caught the last train back to my apartment, so it was 1h40 by the time I changed and headed back out. I tried catching a night bus downtown, but I missed it and realized that the next one would take 30 minutes to arrive, so I grabbed a taxi instead. Thankfully, taxis don't cost much when traffic is low, so I got there for 8€. It took a while to get in; while I was waiting, a young lesbian couple speaking North American English wandered past the line, into the club (clearly they had some sort of line-jump), and then shortly back out. As they were leaving, they held a deliberately loud conversation with the bouncer over the heads of those in line, asking which night was the "girls" night; one of them made a point of saying in very clear English "Too many men" just before they walked away. A couple of guys standing in front of me looked at each other and said "She's right, this place is a sausage fest." Although Thursdays are normally a "mixed" night, the complaint wasn't entirely true. When I got in at 2h30, the place was packed with a pretty even mix of genders. While it's always pretty speculative to play "spot the lesbians" at events like this, about 10% of the females were clearly dressing/acting/groping the part. Gay men, on the other hand, were in relatively short supply.

Jones's set was first and foremost a house set. Were there minimal textures and microhouse elements? Sure, but the tracks he selected always seemed to place an emphasis on house-y rhythms and even the occasional vocal track. In a way, it's what I imagine microhouse would sound like when it doesn't pass through minimal techno.

3h45-4h45: Shonky

A friend back in Chicago made a point of telling me how hot Shonky was (in both senses), and he certainly had a point. Not only is Shonky pretty darn cute, but he spins a great set. (The guy in the foreground of this picture was acting creepy all night, coming on to everything with a vagina and being rather grabby. Thankfully, French girls are very good at rebuffing these sorts of attentions.) Shonky's set was mostly techno-centric and mostly minimal, with occasional minimal house tracks. Although the tempo was generally not as fast as big-room Marco Carola-style techno, Shonky maintained an emphasis on loud, punchy bass kicks and sparse mid-frequencies.

Midway through his set, I saw N. come up to the front of the crowd to say hi to Shonky (N. was last seen on this blog here). After the usual greeting, he drifted off to chat with a cloud of other people he seemed to know. There was a Labelle Records party coming up the next day, so he was doing a lot of canvassing to get support. The night is up against Akufen at Nouveau Casino (always a big draw) and a huge ACT-UP Paris charity party with a long list of DJs.

3h45-6h00: Dyed Soundorom

The whole crew, J. Jones, Soundorom, and Shonky.

I have to admit that I wasn't as thrilled with his set, but it was nonetheless pretty good. His selection of tracks tended more toward deep house and dubby house, with occasional techno-y moments. Shortly before I left at 5h30, Shonky came back on to throw on a few tracks. When he did, several people in the crowd applauded. While I don't know if the intention was to congratulate Soundorom or celebrate the return of Shonky, it elicited a rather sour look from him.

I sauntered onto the métro, swung by my boulangerie for a baguette and a pain au chocolat, and then headed back to my place to get some sleep.

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