I came to Paris in 2013 not knowing what to expect. Since then, I have been enjoying my conversations with fellow theatre practitioners here. They have varied from detailed accounts of training techniques to different tools used by French or UK-trained directors with local or international actors. I have listened to French artists expressing their worries over the “americanisation” of the art form and to non-French artists' frustration at not being able to find an open, artistic niche to work and collaborate from.
Brought up and trained on three different continents, I ventured into this new life readily enamored by the possibilities of such a cultural capital. The first challenge I met was how to describe my theatre work, easily labeled in English, into French. “Social theatre”, “Theatre for Social Impact”, “Forum Theatre with refugee communities”? Is there such a word as “devised theatre”, “site specific”, or “immersive”? The terms I had accepted so fluently before came out sounding jarring and dogmatic.
This is where the Paris Fringe was born. It is an attempt to answer the needs that we, together with my co-director Dom Douglas, have heard so far. It is an artistic platform for inter-cultural dialogue and exploration through performance and workshopping alike. And this is why our partnership with Theatre in Paris is essential: by 2017, we hope to welcome companies from all over the world and enable exchange through their exciting surtitling services. Thanks to our dedicated team at Paris Fringe and its partners, audiences will be able to enrich their creative understanding and explore the cross-cultural whirlwind of theatrical approaches. Most of all, we seek to bring together artists united to drive the art form forward and beyond borders.
Reka Polonyi is a French-Hungarian-American director and social theatre practitioner. Trained in the UK, Cuba and Ecuador, she has worked with international organisations (UNHCR, Refugee Resettlement) to promote rights awareness through theatre in Latin America and New York City. She now co-directs the Paris Fringe and teaches at Université Paris 6.