Victoria finishes her 14th season on a high note!
A month and a half marathon through France last February and March was:
- A total audience of 1 200 people,
- 5 days of workshop,
- Meeting with 2 Quebec Delegations,
- About 30 articles published about Victoria,
- 10 hospitals visited,
- and 10 pounds gained per person for a total of 60.
Find below the tour-book that our assistant tour manager Julie wrote. A compilation of anecdotes, photos and public's comments taken on the spot.
Haguenau, Sunday February 2, 2014
Everybody meets up in Alsace. In the corridors of the hotel people greet each other; give their best wishes for the New Year. Eyes half closed and minds wandering. They tell us, the French girls, anecdotes about the cultural differences they have met. We laugh when we hear that Dulcinea, Erik and Danny want to have lunch at 3 PM. We know that in France, restaurants only open from noon to 2 PM :)
It is only little adjustments... nothing to worry about.
On Monday morning, the technical team isalready at the theatre since 8 AM. The others have an appointment at 10 AM for a press conference. Camille welcomes us. Dulcinea is preoccupied bysomething: should she mention that the set has not yet arrived? That the cargo is stuck in the Atlantic? Everything is so unpromising that it is almost heroic. Victoria came from far away to perform, without her usual garments.
However, Dulcinea is worried about one thing: without the set, the show still exists but without a wheelchair she cannot dance. At 2 PM she goes wheelchair hunting, hoping to find a simple and easy to manipulate one. A pharmacy finally rents us one... for free! Our dancer just has to tame her new instrument. She brings it onto the stage where the technicians are busy putting two large curtains up, replacing the five that usually are there. She looks at it, manipulates it, takes a seat, and doubts.
Throughout the day, the stage takes form. The door of the control room is closed. Victoria needs lights to enhance the scenery. It is now time for the run-through. Victoria, the caregiver and the wheelchair take their places on stage. There is no sound, inside or outside of the theatre. All day long little steps echo. A day where we have to run to make little adjustments... but in the end... nothing to worry about.
Tuesday February 4, 2014
Third and last day in Haguenau. While walking through the local market, we run into people that bought the Dernières Nouvelles d’Alsace Newspaper. In the middle of the pages showing morose political news figures an article entitled “Old Age According to Victoria”. Invitations are clearly made: Tonight, the Alsatian public has a date.
In order to be ready, the whole team stays in the theatre. Dulcinea and Erik run back and forth on the stage. Every inch of the carpet is tread upon, the dancer asks the control room to make a few modifications. She has an idea and will do "something".
Vincent and Danny did not leave the control room. Chloe takes care of the stage management, well hidden in the dressing room, close to the technicians. The theatre is calm; there is no sound, everybody is concentrated. Victoria has a date tonight. A date with herself, with her team and with her public. In a few hours, the theatre will open its doors and will find its usual liveliness.
In the meantime, Victoria is making herself beautiful...
Night of Tuesday 4th to Wednesday 5th of February 2014
Once the show is over, the time has come to say goodbye. The people in the audience stayed in order to speak with Dulcinea, they are very moved. They wonder who Victoria is, and if the character really existed. It is without reserve that Dulcinea talks about her father, her experience with hospitals and of a man called Victor. The audience smiles, a smile revealing pleasure and compassion simultaneously. The atmosphere encourages exchanges; we almost forget where we are. As if it were a meeting between old friends that hadnot seen each other in a long time and would chat over a cup of tea.
The technicians left the control room to start striking the set. The only advantage with having our set stuck in the middle of the ocean is that it is quickly put away.
Montélimar, February 26, 2014
Montélimar: the word itself is mouth-watering. Sweets and the sweet pleasures they bring... The team arrives under a grey sky. Even if we can find palm trees in the city, we still can feel the cold winter wind.
We get introduced to the team of the theatre. Frederic, the manager, is happy to speak with us. The city is quiet, almost asleep. It surely is the southern air. Victoria will be played right in the heart of the town, at Michel Petrucciani’s Auditorium.
The technical team is busy installing the set. The cargo has finally made its way to France; the show will be played with its complete set of curtains and its own wheelchair. It is now time to meet up with the public. A parallel activity has been organized by La Manoudière Retirement Home at 2 PM.
Around thirty people are attending, attentively. Dulcinea takes seat and presents the show, which will be presented on Friday. A woman in the front row replies to Dulcinea, chats with her. After the presentation of the video of Victoria, Dulcinea makes a demonstration of a typical jig from Quebec. The patients follow the steps, carried away by the movements. The themes of the show are addressed, when Dulcinea explains the relationship between patients and caregivers. The audience approves, confirming its importance in their daily lives. Later on, the animator asks the patients to express their feelings towards the presentation. A woman mentions that Victoria is a courageous show. Dulcinea replies that "Art has to do good, it has to have a message that comes from the soul ".
The exchange becomes less formal when the team leaves the retirement home, and the residents chat over an orange juice. Without having seen the show, everybody agrees that Dulcinea is full of life, happy and joyful. The subject of Victoria is "a great life lesson because sometimes we could confine ourselves into the sadness of reality and abandon ". At the end of this moment of dialogue, many residents want to see the show, curious to know Victoria, her story, her inspiration, and also find "a little bit of life" .
Saint-Genis-Pouilly, March 4 2014
Everything is clean, aligned. Nothing exceeds. The houses are identical, like cardboard houses. Saint-Genis-Pouilly is situated a few minutes away from Switzerland, between the Jura department and the Mont Blanc. The team is already sleeping when Chloe and I arrive at the hotel. Under its tidy appearance, the city is filled with visitors for the Geneva Motor Show. Hotels are packed. We have to sleep two per room for the first night, but we will not complain. As the Gentleman says at the reception: "Go check the first class how it is, here it’s better ". We are tired, it is time to sleep.
Wednesday, March 5 2014
The technical team arrived early in the morning to the theatre. For this last performance, the set-up routine stays the same. Everything goes well, as a matter of fact, a little bit too well. “The theatre is a superstitious place” says Vincent, smiling. He wonders if something will go wrong. Yet, we are quite spoiled at Saint-Genis: the weather is nice, we got transferred to a high standard hotel and the whole process of setting-up looks well.
This afternoon, the Centre Local d’Information et de Coordination gérontologique du Pays de Gex organized a conference with Dulcinea. As her public is always different, she personalizes her interventions. Here, the majority of the attendees are women, between 50 and 70 years old. Their hair is not white, nor their faces tensed. After watching the presentation DVD, the debate is open. Some women had already seen Victoria at the Avignon Festival in 2012, and share their experience with the others. Their memories of the show are still vivid and they talk about it with passion and longing. Victoria has to been seen; people have to live this experience. As Victoria will be presented on the International Women’s Day, a special attention is given to the women of the town: their presence to the performance will be free of charge.
Everybody returns to the hotel, after a delicious fig fillet of duck breast and an all-you-can-eat dessert buffet, it is time to go to bed.
Thursday, March 6 2014
Victoria is ready to give her last performance in France. The day goes by serenely, flawlessly. At 6 PM, the whole team reunite in the kitchen. Everything is ready and they wonder: “What will we do for the next two hours? ? " Rest, wander around, concentration, preparation.
One last time, Victoria goes on stage. The reaction of the public is the same, between laughter and emotions. The French audience loves Victoria and knows how to demonstrate it. The room is filled withapplause, it is now time to say goodbye.
Passports in their bags, half asleep, a last ray of sunlight before going back home: Icy weather is awaiting the team in Montreal. At Geneva’s Airport, all the passengers are invited to go aboard the plane, let’s not risk missing the flight... :)
Wishing a great journey to everybody, it is time to take off the sandals and put on the moon boots.
See you soon, here or elsewhere... There is no such thing as chance, only encounters (It is Madam Julie who confirms it to you).