Send in the clowns – and send me, too!

By: Michael Stevenson

My wife Linda and I enjoyed such a wonderful vacation in France this past month.

We began our trip in Paris’ Butte-aux-Cailles neighborhood in the underappreciated 13th arrondissement. Butte-aux-Cailles was a pleasant surprise, with its amazing street art, local bistros, and funky bars. We had a groovy night of Afro-Pop and dancing the evening of the Fete de Musique!

Next we took a train to Avignon where we rented a car to drive to the seaside village of Cassis. This was perfect timing, as the temperatures climbed over 110 degrees. We cooled ourselves with an ocean swim and boat ride through Cassis’ beautiful calanques.

We then drove three hours north from Cassis to Vienne to attend their annual Jazz Festival. There, in the magnificent outdoor Theatre Antique, we watched a fantastic show performed by Canadian piano man Chilly Gonzales. We drove south again to our favorite village in Provence, Venasque, meeting-up with our friends Jim and Shirley, who are our neighbors back come in Rhode Island, USA.

It was in Venasque that I was fortunate to be introduced to “Compagnie Née au Vent,” in a street performance by the company’s two “clowns”/actors, Claire Néel and Alexandre Florent.

A bus crashes Cyrano and the clowns show their mercy

The two clowns, in character as “Bombyx” and “Luna”, performed scenes from the classic novel “Cyrano de Bergerac,” as well as skits from the Hollywood movies Dirty Dancing, Titanic, and (my favorite) the spaghetti scene from Disney’s Lady & the Tramp.

Walking through the winding streets of the tiny village, I loved every minute of their twilight performance.

It was hilarious, magical and unforgettable theater!

My only regret was that during the several requests for audience participation, I was too embarrassed by clumsy francaise to volunteer.

On the Compagnie Née au Vent website are these words from the beloved author Antoine de Saint-Exupéry:

“Make the dream devour your life and that life does not devour your dream”

Next summer, I promise to improve my French and to raise my hand to volunteer once invited to “send in the American clown!” C’est moi!