french-tradition-takes-centre-stage-in-covid-protest

By Mathieu Pollet

BBC News, Paris

Published

image caption“I’m non-essential” declares one of many protesters within the Place de la Bastille in central Paris

Hundreds of actors, theatre administrators, musicians, movie technicians and critics, and plenty of others from the world of French tradition gathered within the coronary heart of Paris and different cities on Tuesday to protest in opposition to the federal government’s shutdown of tradition venues due to Covid-19.

Cinemas, theatres, museums and live performance halls had been set to reopen, however days prematurely Prime Minister Jean Castex introduced a change of coronary heart in response to France’s stubbornly excessive an infection charge.

No reopening will happen now till not less than 7 January – a choice Mr Castex stated was “particularly painful for us”.

Holding slogans like “we’re going to die, and not even on stage”, a number of the demonstrators informed the BBC of their anger and misery on the lockdown.

Lorraine Tisserant, opera singer, 33

picture copyrightBBC/Marianne Baisnée

Among the protesters was Lorraine Tisserant, who believes her occupation has bent over backwards to maintain opera homes open and feels the federal government has uncared for the tradition sector in its response to the disaster.

“Many shows have been produced since the beginning of the pandemic that fully observed the new sanitary measures.

“I’ll be optimistic when the federal government proves it truly is considering tradition,” she says, adding that in the meantime she’ll be rehearsing for when it is finally time for the curtain to come up again.

The prime minister said he understood “how ready the cultural sector was, that the artists rehearsed, that every one sectors had been mobilised, that all the pieces was prepared for the curtains to come back up and the screens to gentle up”.

Emilie Renard, puppeteer, 52

image caption“Theatre is a spot of worship” reads this puppeteer’s poster

“I need to entertain individuals, make youngsters snicker,” declares puppeteer Emilie Renard whose puppet shows have had to stop. “It’s not about cash, the corporate can get subsidies from the federal government, however I simply need to work.”

Theatres, cinemas and other venues reopened after the first lockdown in June with new sanitary measures, but they shut again on 29 October, a day after President Emmanuel Macron imposed restrictions on non-essential shops, bars and anywhere receiving the public.

“Before coming into one other lockdown, I revered all of the measures,” says Emilie. “We did not witness any clusters in theatres,” she points out. In the meantime, she has been doing short videos for her young audience to watch online.

Emmanuel Goepfret, musician, 32

“I breathe, subsequently I’m,” says multi-instrumentalist Emmanuel Goepfret, who wants decision-makers to know that health is not just about the body but about everything that is good for the mind and soul.

“Music saved me after I was being depressed,” he says. “It’s an outlet, it lets out all of the unhappiness that’s inside us.”

image copyrightBBC/Marianne Baisnée

image caption“We take care of souls and hearts,” reads this protest banner

Véronique Genest, actress, 64

Véronique Genest is widely known for portraying a police superintendent on French TV for 23 years.

“Like many, I don’t perceive what is going on on proper now,” she declares, complaining that people are being treated like children.

“Culture is at risk,” she warns.

The culture sector has launched a legal challenge to the measures, just as catering workers and the ski industry have done, too.

Lionel Amadote, dancer and dance teacher

Professional dancer Lionel Amadote also complains “artists aren’t vital to the federal government”.

As a professional, he is allowed to practise but does not know when he will be able to get back on stage. “Will we be capable of carry out in two months, three months?” he wonders.

Tiphaine Froid, stage director, 24

“My play has been postponed twice,” says Thiphaine Froid, who finds it dispiriting working “with out figuring out if it’ll ever transcend the partitions of her lounge”.

“The state of affairs calls for a lot adaptability, it takes numerous sacrifice,” she said.

Lionel Massétat, theatre director, 54

Among those gathered at the Bastille was theatre director Lionel Massétat, 54, who complained that he and his colleagues felt like they were “being handled like youngsters”.

He spoke of the recent murder of a teacher by a militant Islamist near Paris and of the debate surrounding French republican values.

“After the homicide of Samuel Paty, there was this big alternative to affirm what we had been, the values we defended, together with freedom of expression, the liberty to come back collectively, to suppose collectively, to be collectively past our variations.”

Aurélia Tastet, actress, 38

image copyrightBBC/Marianne Baisnée

image caption“We’re non-essential? It’s the federal government that wants dumping,” reads Aurélia Tastet’s poster

Complete with red nose, actress Aurélia Tastet, 38, is determined to state loud and clear that she is not “non-essential” – the term used by the French government to label activities that have had to stay shut.

Her voice cracking with emotion, she says producing wealth is more than just a narrow economic term.

Paul Olinger, chief film operator, 24

image caption“We like fiction in film theatres, not in parliament,” reads Paul’s poster

Paul Olinger finds it absurd to see Paris’s transport system and shopping centres clogged up “whereas the cultural locations are closed down”.

He feels lucky that film shooting has been allowed to start up again, but his concern now is how films will be shown in future. “They can be on streaming platforms, and that is the consequence of the disaster.”

All photographs by Marianne Baisnée.