Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Les Guignols ! The Show Will Go On !

Walking in Paris just a few short weeks ago, in a side street just off the Champs Elysée, near where the open air postage stamp market operates, I stumbled on this sign, which I'd never noticed before, although I'd been in that corner of greenery before . . . les Guignols. Les Guignols, as you are probably aware, are a fairly widespread phenomenon in France; puppet shows put on for children, often with elaborate old puppets, telling popular stories, teaching certain moral lessons. There is also a wonderful TV show where the Guignols are caricatures of famous political and other public figures, who are roundly mocked. (I'd love to see what they would do with someone like Sarah Palin.) But this well weathered sign was for the first variety . . . a puppet show for children . . .
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And the next show was at four o'clock . . .
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And this was the stage where it was all going to happen. Ah yes, all the world's a stage, and if only real life were as simple as the Guignols would have one believe. Interesting process whereby we gradually discover that life is a hell of alot more complicated than anyone ever told us when we were children . . . So, what would you like to see happen on this stage today ??? You may write your own play here . . .
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34 comments:

louciao said...

I'm first in line! I'm just so pleased to be here I'm ready to watch whatever unfolds...as long as Saj turns up soon with a wee flask of something.

Owen said...

Well then, you get the early bird award here Lynne ! How about a full length Guignols version of "War & Peace" ? Or maybe "the Magic Flute" ? Or "Cyrano de Bergerac"? That's always a pleasure... In any case, just sit tight there, I'm sure the Saj and a few others will be by shortly to watch the show... I'm off to get my beauty sleep...

K'line Bloom said...

Hello Owen,
C'est une jolie idée, quelque part nous avons eu la même !
Bises du pays de Guignol (L....)
K'line

French Fancy said...

Oh what pretty signs. On tv years ago I saw a beautiful puppet version of Faust - this sounds hard to believe but I am sure it really happened and I hadn't been taking anything. It was wonderful and perfect for puppetry.

Martin H. said...

Owen

I like the first sign in particular, complete with URL.

Steve said...

Due to my appalling French I'd be expecting a puppet show of the dead...!

Gypsy said...

What charming signs and nothing even remotely hi tech in sight.

Dedene said...

I hope you stayed for the performance! When I lived in the 16th near the Bois de Boulogne there was one of these theaters. But I don't know if it still exists.

Great find!

Adam said...

There are several around Paris (Buttes Chaumont..) and even a permanant theatre I believe. Personally I've always found them to be extremely creepy, and incredibly violent! I was scared of the English cousins - Punch and Judy - as a child, but today it is the hidden away manipulator that I find most worrying!

the watercats said...

Why does everything in France look medievil!.. or is it just you have a medievil eye?.... lol

La Framéricaine said...

Le F loved les guignols in 1940s Paris.

Lovely photos!

Not Waving but Drowning said...

Having just had my first cello lesson, I'm here to take to that stage and "seranade" you.

On with the industrial strength ear protectors, I'm about to begin!

GG

Not Waving but Drowning said...

"Serenade"...I need spelling lessons too!

Roxana said...

these are magical Owen - the colours, the stories they make us dream of, childhood is suddenly here again, when everything was fresh and an infinite source of wonder...
how i envy you of being there :-)

Caio Fernandes said...

cool place , good choice for the photographs

Catherine said...

looks like from times gone by...talking of which did you ever catch the British tv satire - Spitting Image where all politicians were the most grotestesque puppet caricatures...

jeff said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
jeff said...

Voici un lieu magique que les enfants devraient connaitre ! J'ai eu la chance, l'occasion de voir une représentation il y a peu de temps avec des enfants... J'ai été surpris de voir et m'apercevoir combien ce type de spectacle pouvait encore les émerveiller...
A l'heure de la Play, Wii, Xbox, et autres... il reste beaucoup de lieux magiques tout de même...!

Ciao Owen !
Amitiés !...;-)

Loulou said...

Bonsoir Owen
Je ne me remets pas de ta fête pour les "un an déjà c'est dingue" chez toi :-)))
Just in reference to The Watercats'comment: it is ONLY your eye.
And I can imagine you moving the hour hand on the clock showing time for next show... so as you can be on your own and enjoy the show! hihi :-)

I like also the url on first shot, just perfect!

Take care
Loulou

PS - just tried the very famous tisane of Owen (I mean the real one, with honey etc, pouah!), I have a cold (well it is only 36°C outside.... can't get used to Indian summer/fall I don't know.... :-) !)

robert said...

Kasper Theater - oh how many decades since I last saw one on my own, even though I came close to one last night, as the kid was awake at 03.30 and wouldn't sleep until 05.00...at one point he discovered my shadow on the wall and tried for a long time to catch it, which in the end made me happy and willing to play with him (in the middle of the night, wife asleep next door).
Falling nearly asleep during lessons today - what a joy however just to remember.
All the very best to you.

Harry 'aka' Mojo said...

Bonjour Owen, !!
Merci de l'information sur rendre des photos plus grandes sur l'emplacement de blog, j'apprécie votre travail et succès continu ! Bravo à vous votre première année mon fils ! Voyez-vous bientôt, COMPAGNON d'ACCLAMATIONS !
Harry
Yes..my Grandmother was French!
how did you know? :-)

JoMo said...

I'd stay just to look at the painted signs and wood worn puppet theatre. Fantastique.

Owen said...

All, I shall return to answer your kind words here, just as soon as I may, before I post again, bear with me, bear me patience, for we have unexpected absences at work which is making it tough on those of us who haven't caught the flu... yet..., but I shall return..., but for now, I must go off to the land of Nod behind the theatre curtains there for several hours in dreamland... good night...

@eloh said...

How do you do it Owen? You just find the best, most interesting things over and over again!

TechnoBabe said...

I am ALWAYS writing my own play! Making up my own rules for a game, writing a whole other world I can live in. I would love to see this puppet show. I was in Paris about 10 years ago and walked every inch of sidewalk and up and down every place I could get to for two weeks. Not enough time to be in a place like Paris. My traveling days are over but I carry my memories with me along with a few photos.

Lydia said...

I'm at a loss for words at what this post meant to me, or to describe the places it touched in my heart. Alas, it did not touch any places in my memory because, as you well know, American children just don't see this kind of wonder designed just for them.

Your photos and their presentation are a rich source of beauty and I marvel at these especially.

Owen said...

Lydia, thank you, deeply, thank you... just the thought of seeing those curtains opening has something particularly tantalizing for me...

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TechnoB., ahh, so you have strolled the streets of Paris... you are completely right that much time is needed, for there are surprises galore, and many hidden treasures. Hopefully we'll see some of your Paris photo memories ? Everyone needs a Paris in their mind to go to... a place where anything is still possible. The City of Light...

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Hi @eloh, I honestly don't know, it's not that I do much of anything, it's more like all these things come looking for me and grabbing me by the shoulder and pushing me forward to look... Sort of like holding an invisible divining stick...

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Owen, stop spending so darn much time in bed sleeping your life away !

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Hi JoMo, you may stay as long as you like ! Admission to this puppet show is free, unlike the Guignols which charge a nominal fee... glad you liked the signs...

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Hey Harry, Hope the picture enlargement instructions work out ok for you... can't wait to see some bigger images to know it worked... those chalk sidewalk artists are something else... ahh, donc, une grand-mère française ? je m'en doutais un peu... Merci bcp en tout cas, à bientôt... et alors, as-tu acheté finalement la voiture ???

Owen said...

Hey Robert, sounds like a nice night, playing with shadows on the wall, even if a bit tired after... sleep is important too... glad this brought back some memories for you... and have a fine weekend...

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Chère Loulou, soignes bien ton rhume, marrant, moi aussi j'en ai un bon... crevant, n'est-ce pas... et que 36°, tu dois être gelée ! Pas surprenant que tu as un "cold"... c'est 36°F, eh ? Et bien sûr j'ai mis l'heure en advance pour être tranquil avec les filles pour le spectacle, comment tu as pu déviner ??? Tu es maline toi, je pense... And yes, it is the evil part of medi-eval in the eye, no doubt... Cette fête, c'étais qqchse, n'est-ce pas? Bon, on le re-fera pour le 20000ième visiteur ou visitrice... dans deux semaines ? Comme ça on a le temps d'oublier la gueule de bois... :-D

Alors, ne tisane pas trop, tu as vu ce que l'abus de la tise a fait à certains ... !

Ah bientôt Loulou...

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Hey Jeff, tu as raison, il y a encore une place dans le monde pour des plaisirs simples comme de vrais marionnettes comme celles-ci, un vrai spectacle fait par d'autres humains vivants, et non pas des machines électroniques... le cirque peut encore être bon aussi pour les enfants si c'est bien fait... la Grenouille a un cousin qui travaille dans le cirque à Paris, c'était fabuleux la dernière fois que nous sommes allés le voir... Par contre, attn, ne donnes pas trop de tisane de mon camion qui a disparu dans le sud à des gens de voyage qui passent par ici cherchant à refaire le plein... !
:-D

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Hi Comment Deleted, I suppose you were so objectionable that somebody decided to do you in with extreme prejudice, but I can't bring myself to finish you off, so you can just stay where you are, in limbo, in comment purgatory... forever, for all I care...

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Catherine, no I'm not familiar with Spitting Image, but if it is anything along the line of Spouting Politicians, or Politicians Spewing Swill, yes, I'm sure we're all familiar with it in one way or another... will have to look it up... And I don't even have the French cable channel that has the Guignols on it, Canal+, it costs extra beyond the service we already have... which I don't watch, because I blog these days...

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Hi Caio Fernandes... glad you liked it, thanks for stopping in. I have to apologize, on your earlier comments I'm pretty sure, without going back and checking, that I addressed you as Ciao, instead of Caio, I was mis-reading everytime... but to sign off, I guess I could say,
Ciao Caio...
:-)

The Sagittarian said...

That looks wonderful. Many eyars ago I got a couple who did puppetry to come along and entertain the wee Trolls at one of their birthday parties, it was a grand idea and the kids loved it. I used to get freaked out by the puppets but I'm ok now, just pass the wine along please....

Owen said...

Roxana, if they made you dream a little daydream, then I'm happy... you're just going to have to come back to Paris (I'm supposing you've already been?) and see some shows here, and at some of the other many and splendid theatres that exist in Paris... Romania is not so very far away, if you were to saddle a horse, you could be here in a week or two or three, depending how fast you wish to ride... returning to childhood is not a bad thing... from time to time...

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Hi GG! Cello lessons ! I was wondering what the enchanting tune I could just hear coming in the open window was, it had bounced off the clouds I think... keep serenading us, I'm sure it's lovely !

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Dear Fram ! Ahh, so hopefully some memories there... this theatre may have been there already in the 40's, not impossible... Sincerely hope all is falling into place nicely with all your logistics endeavors these days, and that you'll have a minute for a café on the way back through gay Pareee one of these days... I'm away this weekend, up to la Baie de la Somme for a couple of days, but am around next week...

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Dear Watercats, Methinks you have a medieval form of humour to speak of medievil eyes... but France has one foot still very entrenched in medievalisms while stumbling into the future...

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Hi Adam, I know what you mean, I have memories of the puppets often being hunched over while carrying big billy clubs to whack each other with, or the witch figure with a great beaked nose... but kids seem to enjoy the shows, even the creepy ones...

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Dedene, couldn't stay that day, but am intrigued enough to see what goes on these days in such a venue to maybe go back and check it out... will let you all know if I do... so where did you live in the 16th ? For about 9 months my address was on the rue de Colonel Bonnet...

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Gypsy, well I thought the clock sign was pretty high tech ! Not to mention their internet address...
:-D

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Steve, I'm sure we can find a show with enough sign language in it that even a linguistically challenged foreign non-French speaker could comprehend... and you are so sharp, I'm sure you'll get the gist of it at least... basic lessons like, "thou shalt not steal" can be found here...

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Hi Martin, glad you enjoyed... I didn't try to see what the web site looked like... I wonder if there are any video clips of such shows out there... will have to try typing Guignols on YouTube...

Owen said...

Hi FF, Faust in puppets must be quite a trip indeed, especially if not taking anything...
;-D

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K'line, Amelie Poulain? La lettre d'amour ? Mysterieux tout cela. En tout cas, j'adore Amelie-Audrey, un plaisir de revoir un peu de ce film..... à bientôt...

Owen said...

Hi Saj ! you slipped in there with your wine glass in between two sets of answers, ooofff, almost missed you... finally they're not so scary after all then, the Guignols... here, here's the bottle... don't drink it all now, save a little for your fellow bloggers....

:-D

Roxana said...

saddle a horse! :-)
this is funny!

K'line Bloom said...

Owen,
I was referring to "So, what would you like to see happen on this stage today ??? You may write your own play here . ."
Do you see what I mean now?
Nope? ;-))
Cheers,
K'line