a cicada, a fox, a heron ?
and : NO – no, I will not talk about Antman ! oooh what, what ? who ? oooohhhhh, psh psh, prrrt prrrt prrrrt.
No, no, no, my subject is serious.
To be or not to be an ant is a very serious question, one that we have all asked ourselves at least once in our lives – and the answer is complicated.
Add to that the fact that I am not proposing to be just any ant, certainly not.
You see – I will talk about the famous, fabulous, incredible Monsieur Jean de La Fontaine’s ant.
This – this an ant.
This ant comes to us straight from the Greek world, with a small passage by the Romans.
It dragged its little legs in the Middle Ages and found itself in all the fabliaux where the animals had such human roles.
Arrived at the Grand Siècle, prestigious century of King Louix XIV, it was ready, the ant.
The text is too beautiful, I give it to you in French – it sounds, it is a wonder for the ears – then, okay, okay, I’ll give it to you in English and after that I’ll tell you why I’m telling you about it.
La Cigale et la Fourmi – Jean de la Fontiane
La cigale ayant chanté tout l’été
Se trouva fort dépourvue
Lorsque la bise fut venue
Pas un seul petit morceau
De mouche ou de vermisseau
Elle alla crier famine
Chez la fourmi sa voisine
La priant de lui prêter
Quelques grains pour subsister
Jusqu’à la saison nouvelle.
“Je vous paierai, lui dit-elle,
Avant l’août, foi d’animal
Intérêt et principal,”.
La fourmi n’est pas prêteuse,
C’est là son moindre défaut.
“Que faisiez-vous au temps chaud ?,
dit-elle à cette emprunteuse.
Nuit et jour à tout venant
Je chantais, ne vous déplaise.
-Vous chantiez ? J’en suis fort aise.
Et bien, dansez maintenant.”
The cicada, having sung
All summer long,
Found herself sorely deprived
When the north wind arrived:
Not a single morsel
Of fly or tiny worm.
She went to plead famine
At the house of the Ant, her neighbor,
Praying her to lend her
Some grain to survive
Until the new season.
“I will pay you,” she said to her,
“Before August, on my honour as an animal,
Interest and principal.”
The Ant is not a lender:
That is the least of her faults.
“What were you doing in warm weather?”
She said to this borrower.
“Night and day to all that came
I sang, if you please.”
“You sang? I am very glad.
Well! Dance now.”
What to do with all this?
First of all, an absolutely wonderful show for young and old.
Ah ah! then, if we want children who have grown up to come and put their feet in the theatres, the theatres have to go and get them first.
And here we are, all of us on the road again, with a mission: to enchant children, so that they will want to come and come again and again, and so and li and la & even lalala.
We are three – two for the music and I for the theatre and the text – and here we are, with the agreement of the teachers – in the classes, proposing to the children to create their own show from the animals of the Fables.
A show that they will perform in the real theatre, yes, exactly as if they were already grown-ups.
That’s how I found myself surrounded by about twenty 10 year olds on Monday, with the challenge: how to perform the fable of The cicada and the ant ?
How do I do it?
How about it?
What to do?
So then, if the cicada sings, if the cicada… oh well well, psss, then, no way out: the cicada will sing.
And the little kid who wanted to play the cicada found himself singing – with me : la lalaallaalala and as singing was not enough, we danced in a quiet mode and yes life is beautiful and it’s the fun that drives us – in front of a whole class amazed and delighted.
But what about the ant? What does the ant do?
Don’t you see the little pointed legs of ants?
We saw them — and there we were, both hands on point, ready to attack, and pic and poc and pique pique pique, ouh ouh on the cicada
& so you have to wrinkle your nose, squint your eyes, look mean and paf ugly cicada who wants to borrow, and paf again here, you’ve earned it!
And when it was the crow’s turn to have his cheese in his beak, we had to open our mouths wide because the cheese was too big!
The heron with the long beak and the long neck was found and made with the help of the teacher’s splendid broomstick, and by that time the whole class was crying with laughter – and the teacher was crying as well.
In short, the workshop was a success – and I was invited to the next birthday party for the children. I admit that I was a clown for quite some time.
It’s going to take some time to work out – but I already know that it will be a real success
And that, in addition, we will have brought into the walls of the theatre these children, but also all the families – especially since we are going to look for children and families who never come to a theatre.
Will they come back?
I don’t know.
But I know they won’t be afraid to enter
And if by some miracle the programming makes them want to come, then they will come.