On the french experience …

On the French experience …

On a freezing July morning in Melbourne nine Women’s Circus members – and one circus-keen daughter – gathered at Tullarmarine airport to embark upon a three week tour of France. The previous four months had been spent furiously developing and rehearsing our show Out of the Box, as well as organising multiple fundraising activities and trying to learn a little French into the bargain! It seemed unbelievable that everything we’d worked towards had come together.

The tour involved six shows held in five different cities, including Lyon (the second largest city in France,) and Toulouse (the fourth largest). The other performances were held in smaller regional towns, which was great as we got a chance to get out of the big cities and talk to different people about the fabulous work the Women’s Circus does. Our show Out of the Box covered themes drawn from women’s experiences – including feelings of powerlessness and entrapment as well as escape; self definition; and overcoming difficulties through bravery and community involvement. The incredible positive feedback we received from audiences suggested that these themes could translate across linguistic and cultural boundaries. After each show we hosted a question and answer session with the audience – which allowed us to have a deeper exchange with audiences. Some of these sessions became quite moving as people talked about how inspired they were to see ordinary women on stage performing our stories.

Between the shows we taught a number of workshops to women from different agencies. The workshops were a great experience to form deeper connections with women in France, and it was inspiring to see women trying out new things they never would have believed themselves capable of. The agencies often hosted us – organising volunteers of women who generously billeted us, provided food or gave us a tour of their town. The experience was one of an amazing cross-cultural exchange and skill-share – with so much warm feeling and generosity on both sides. We wish the French crew all the best in starting their own Women’s Circus – given all the beautiful community spirit and dedication we saw, they’re sure to succeed!

Thank you so much to everyone who contributed to make this project happen – from assisting with fundraising, to coming to our fundraising events, helping out with advice and encouragement; and of course the women in France who fed, billeted, and coordinated us, answered our silly questions about their country and made sure everything went so smoothly. Special thank you to Rachel Sayre who co-ordinated the project in Australia and France, and whose enthusiasm and persistence pulled everything together time and time again.

Merci a toutes!

Text written by Rachel Kennedy


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