French Theatre in Los Angeles

By Didier Allouch, host of Rendez-vous d'Amérique

My dear francophiles, francovorous and francophageous friends, the other night, I went to a play. Yes, I know, nothing exceptional about that. You probably go to the theatre much more than I do because I’m more of a movie guy…

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What was pretty rare is that the theatre was in the middle of Los Angeles, about 3 blocks away from the Fox Studios lot (we still say Fox studios, not Disney-owned Fox Studios, do we?) and it the performance was actually French theatre with a French star.

The play was called Plaidoiries, the actor was Richard Berry and it was at the Raymond Kabbaz Theatre at the Lycée Français of Los Angeles… The play was great but that’s not the point of this chronicle. The point is that the play was totally sold-out, filled-up by mostly expats and about 25% of English speaking audience (the play was subtitled in English).

The point is that to some brave programmers, speaking French in America is not a problem. Quite the contrary in fact…

Pierre Leloup is one of them. He’s the director and programmer of the Raymond Kabbaz Theatre and for years now, fighting for Francophonie in the US by programming quality shows in his little theatre. It could be plays, dance shows, movies, circus, but most of them speak French at the Raymond Kabbaz Theatre. He’s not the only one. I’m thinking about FIAF, the French Institute Alliance Française in New York and many others in New Orleans, Boston, Houston, etc. They fight like crazy to attract French theatre productions to their stage…

I want to let them all know that they’re not fighting for nothing.

At the end of the play the other night, a lot of people stayed outside, enjoying the nice Californian Indian summer evening, speaking in French and in English for a long time about the play, about the actor, and about the politics of the show. They were comparing the judicial system in France and America, were talking about how both countries react to subjects as important as abortion or death penalty (both are themes of the play). They were exchanging points of view. All that thanks to a show, played in French in an L.A. theatre.

It felt great listening to this exchange just as an audience member. So I can’t imagine what Pierre Leloup felt at the time, or all the Pierre Leloup’s of America must feel when they arrange for French to be spoken on an American stage and that it starts a debate and ignites an interest for the language and the culture.

At Rendez-Vous d’Amérique, we’ll do as much as we can to help those soldiers of Francophonie keep going into their battle for French language. It was maybe nothing but that night, French language, French culture should I say, was alive and well in this French theatre in Los Angeles. 

To learn more about French culture in America, including a look at the 40-year career of innovative fashion designer Pierre Cardin and a world of French cinema at the Toronto International Film Festival, into this week’s episode of Rendez-vous d’Amérique.

From the stage to the screen, and everything in-between, Rendez-vous d'Amérique invites you to discover the world of Francophone culture in America. Your host on this cultural experience is Didier Allouch - reporter, cinephile, and a familiar face on the red carpet. Click here to learn how you can subscribe to TV5MONDE and watch Rendez-vous d'Amérique!