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Waiting for the show, “La Poule et le Renard.” (=The Chicken & the Fox).

Okay, winter vacation ended last week but I have to mention our first taste of French traditional théâtre: Le Guignol. You can find these French puppet shows for children all over Paris, especially in the parks (see the link http://www.paris.fr/loisirs/activites-dans-les-parcs/guignols-spectacles-pour-enfants/p6563) but my kids are like me: wouldn’t you be afraid of these hard-faced characters conversing to other odd-looking, talking heads? These were the visions of my nightmares when I was young child.  [I had watched too many episodes of ‘Fantasy Island’ and trailers of bad Hollywood movies where dolls become alive and do horrible things to living people…]

Photo taken from http://www.lyonpoche.com/theatre/fiche-horaire/theatre-la-maison-de-guignol-187/1808-l-histoire-de-guignol-21023.html

Ahh, but then I found Théâtre des Marionnettes in the beautiful neighbourhood of St. Mandé bordering southeast Paris (close to Bois de Vincennes). These puppets were the perfect introduction to my children because they look like muppets — soft, cuddly dolls that you’d want to hug rather than run away from.

The lady farmer and the chef from “La Poule et le Renard.”

It was really rewarding to watch because the characters talk to the audience and the French kids would SCREAM and SHOUT to warn the puppets of impending danger. It’s so refreshing to see French children let loose (after being so well-behaved in restaurants and museums) and to listen to their sweet voices chat earnestly to the cute voices of the puppets, tout en français. My kids were attentive but too shy to say anything, however, my son understood it all. My daughter was too afraid of the wolf (=”renard“) and wouldn’t watch the show. [Oh well, she’s not yet four so we’ve got some time for her to revisit children’s theatre in the future.] All in all, it was like watching French Sesame Street with some repetitive gags (some animal characters wouldn’t leave the stage; where’s that giant hook when you need it!?), quick intermissions of dancing vegetables, and great audience participation. Another charming experience in educating my children about French culture. Chouette!

See the video I took. Go to this link: http://www.flickr.com/photos/77766177@N02/