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01 November 2016

Human Adventure - 7

« Dare, and the world always yields: or, if it beats you sometimes, dare again, and it will succumb. »  ― William Makepeace Thackeray, Barry Lyndon

While the Seine bursts its banks, while Paris is overwhelmed with strikes and Nice under terrorist attack, love resonates at the theatre La Bruyère. 69 performances, perfect number for a fairly sensual show. Reunions, stage fright, joy and joy again…  Come hell or high water we sing love! Saturday August 20th, our last two shows, already… 4 and 8:30 pm. After a farewell drink at the Theatre’s bar with cast and crew, I’m off to bed! My heart is heavy but I am not sad, those three months have been so intense and beautiful. I feel blessed.

Just a few hours’ sleep and hello Sunday. My two gigantic suitcases are filled in no time and off to the Roissy Airport!
9 kilos excess baggage! My heart is light… Scotland here I come. Seeing Edinburgh through the plane’s window is like hearing J. M. Barrie whispering “Do you believe in fairies?... If you believe, clap your hands!". Scottish soil at last! The ocean tickles my nostrils; the tram takes forever but then, we’re not in any hurry. The flaming Sharon welcomes us at Broughton street. Five floors later, we discover our apartment for the week, high ceilings, generous volumes, light, I feel I’m going to love it. As soon as the two giants are emptied, diner it is. Eden kitchen, food from paradise, amazing, don’t you think? The waiters’ Scottish accent melted with Greek or Lebanese is as delightful as everything in my plate. Happy stomach, sweet dreams!

Monday - The Cabin

Off to the rehearsal room, Banana Row. One Studio, 2 square meters… Oops, one singer, one singer/piano player, one drummer, one saxophone player, one double bass player, one light designer and one musical director equal 7, my lucky number and to cap it all 7 hours’ rehearsal in the Marx Brothers’ cabin… Fortunately, as Groucho said: « Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana! ». A Good night sleep and we’ll be bright as a button or shall I say Fresh as a daisy? On top form!

Tuesday - The Famous

After my morning ritual (writing, physical training, vocalises, English texts revision), here I am, getting ready in the Famous Spiegelent’s dressing room! My dream since 2005!

Just so you know, The Famous Spiegeltent, le salon des miroirs, was built in 1920 by master craftsmen Oscar Mols Dom and Loius Goor. This Grande Dame has spent her lifetime at the bequest of festivals and fairgrounds throughout Europe and beyond, playing host to the world’s greatest cabaret artists, musicians and circus burlesque performers. Since Marlene Dietrich sang ‘Falling In love Again’ on The Famous Spiegeltent stage in the 1930’s, its magic mirrors have reflected thousands of images of artists, audiences and exotic gatherings.

Opening night! After a fleeting sound check, I hear David Bates, our host: « And now ladies and gentlemen, Please welcome Isabelle Georges’ Oo Lala! » What an opening night! I bursted into the tent like my life depended on it and when the first applause crackled through the audience, I was totally overwhelmed… Joy, gratitude, exhaustion? Indefinable mix of feelings. Behind his piano, Frederik is smiling…. They loved it! Australian Rodney Gilbert is our drummer, Scottish Brian Molley and Brian Sheels are respectively our saxophone player and our double bass player. Our loyal and talented Douglas Kurt operates the lights and our friends Bruno, Nadia and Myriam came all the way from Paris to see us, what a treat!

Wednesday – Phobe and Forbes

After my morning ritual, I feel the need to clear my mind and to be left alone … By chance, I discovere Traquair centre, an old church who’s walls have been covered with Phoebe Anna Traquair’s paintings… Dazzling for the eyes and the soul. The colors, the lines, the tenderness…  « Well, Art is Art, isn't it? Still, on the other hand, water is water. And east is east and west is west and if you take cranberries and stew them like applesauce they taste much more like prunes than rhubarb does. » Groucho Marx

Hardly time to savor the opening night… Brian Molley, previously engaged this night is replaced by Stuart Forbes who accompanied Tony Bennett amongst others, I feel tense but supported and lucky! Maximal focus for what we call a real ‘deuxième’ in French!

Thursday – Sappy Songs

On to my first Scottish TV Edinburgh Fest Live (on Sky Ch266 & on line) with the hilarious Abi Roberts. I try to answer quick as a flash even if the question is interfered with the colorful Scottish accent, I try not to say anything I would regret and preferably with a tiny touch of humour… I said I TRY!

Third show! Brian is back! Discovering the amazement on our audience’s faces all along this set I love with all my heart, these songs, texts, moves, the unexpected that gives what we do a treasure and an unequalled strength. So grateful!

After the show, Frederik and I run to the Hub for Alan Cumming Sings Sappy Songs. What I am blessed to see tonight is far beyond what my expectations. Pure inspiration, virtuosity, humility, authenticity, vulnerability, humour, and that little ‘je ne sais quoi’ that overwhelms me profoundly. I love cabaret, this vibrant ephemeral art that contributes to awaken in each and every one of us the conscience of this thin and fragile bond between us all… After Alan’s show, down memory lane with Ali Mc Gregor Supper Club at Assembly Checkpoint… Thinking of Caroline, Jérôme, Edouard, David and Adrien…  Wish you were here!  It is very late, in the audience just a few drunken souls and us… Ali’s voice shines brilliantly, Chapeau Madame!

Friday – Pure joy

Q&A interview with Gary Flokhart. Thank god, nothing to do this afternoon! 

Fourth show Jim Haynes, one of the founders of the Fringe and a dear friend of ours is in the audience with Casablanca’s cast, performance in a state of grace… 

Saturday – 5 stars

Our first review! David Petherick gives us 5 stars, hurrah!!! This morning, I have a meeting with Allan Foster and his Book lovers tour. Discovering Edinburgh following Conan Doyle, Robert Louis Stevenson, Walter Scott, J. K. Rowling, J. M. Barrie’s footsteps… From Sherlock Holmes to Harry Potter, a wonderful journey to the heart of inspiration, my kind of thing!

Fifth show, the audience doesn’t want to let us go, we decide to perform Over the Rainbow… I think about my grand-mother who helped Frederik and I complete the production on our first trip to Edinburgh in 2005… Miss you Binou!

Sunday – Christine’s Mc Laureen & the four leaf-clover

11 am, our little group enriched with Simone is heading to George Street to attend the last performance of the Tale of Sally Mc Laureen created and performed by Christine Khandjian. Here she is, all alone with her story, her words, her music, fragile human being with all her courage and huge talent. I can’t stop crying. Nothing is, for me, more sacred than seeing an artist with his dreams, spirit, creativity, his never ending quest, his doubts, his capacity to act and transform … This miraculous flower that still manages to grow in a world often violent, bitter, full of jealousy, blasé. Oh Christine, thank you, your delicacy, your tenderness, you voice took us to a better world.

Sixth show, again an amazing audience! The tent is filled with joy and energy, they won’t let us go so… Over The Rainbow dedicated to my Italian friends … 


Monday – Herald, Monnet & La clique

Good morning, 4 stars in the Herald! On my way to meet Daubigny, Monet and Van Gogh at the Edinburgh National Gallery for the exhibition Inspiring Impressionism, I think about this quotes from Marc Chagall: « If every life goes inevitably towards its end, we must while we are alive, color it with love and hope".

Tonight is our last performance at The Spiegeltent. We take the stage as one, rich with our previous performances, our differences and moved by all these precious moments lived so intensely together. Over The Rainbow, dedicated this time to all the socially exclude, the eccentrics, the dreamers, the poets who inspire us to see the world differently. Never forget that for an amazing rainbow to happen one needs a little rain! 

To avoid post show depression, we see La Clique Encore, a savory and poetical mix of cabaret and circus attractions. Group picture in the Famous Spiegeltent. Champagne! We will meet again!

I want to thank the man who shares my life on stage and at home as well as David, Sharon, Sue, Morag, Ryan, Brian and Brian, Rodney, Isabelle, Stuart, Michelle, Perséphone, Myriam, Bruno, Nadia, Simone…  

I will end with this quote from celebrated Scottish author Robert Louis Stevenson: « To be what we are, and to become what we are capable of becoming, is the only end of life. »

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