Thursday, November 7, 2013

Parisiennes at the PEM

Last night I was a 19th century Parisienne.
A friend, Erik Rodenhiser, owner of the Griffen Theatre in Salem, asked me if I would be available to portray a woman who looked like she may have stepped out of a Renoir painting. Of course, I said yes. Or rather bien sur.

Myself, Erik, and one other lady, the raven-haired, beguiling Shari Caplan, were commissioned to engage and entertain at a special members preview for a new exhibition at the Peabody Essex Museum, Impressionists on the Water. The exhibit opens to the public on November 9th and features 60 paintings by artists such as Renoir, Monet, Sisley and others, exploring their love and fascination with water and the activities surrounding it.
At the reception, the PEM's soaring Atrium was decorated to look like a Parisian garden party. The tables were dressed with black and white striped tablecloths, flowers arranged in bright, colorful bundles, and especially for us actors, a bit of grass lawn flanked by two boxwood shrubberies. We were to play petanque (the French version of bocce) with the guests.

Petanque is a fairly simple game. There are 7 balls or boules total. The first step to play is to toss the cochonnet (meaning little pig) onto the grass. The cochonnet is a small, plain wooden ball about an inch and a half in diameter. Next, the remaining 6 boules (2 red, 2 yellow, 2 blue) are tossed towards the cochonnet. The goal is to land as close to the cochonnet as possible. Several guests joined us for a round or two. The more competitive ones played to the best 2 out of 3 games.
Even pretending I was a 19th century Parisienne was magical for more than a moment. Listening to the accordionist playing French waltzes and dancing on the grass, I imagined that I was on the riverbank of the Seine, enjoying an afternoon picnic in Renoir’s Paris.
Unfortunately, I wasn't able to see the exhibit itself last night. Our petanque playing duties kept us at the garden party in the Atrium, but I will be heading back to the museum very soon to see the art and imagine, once again, that I’m in the most beautiful city in the world.

Ah, Paris...
For more information about Impressionists on the Water, visit this link:

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