They say that love is the international language – and while that is indeed true, love stories always sound exquisitely more romantic in French. In the play Encounters by the young and talented French writer/director Constance Fichet, we follow several vignettes exploring the always interesting and beguiling mysteries of love and attraction. And since the actors speak French with English subtitles projected in the backdrop, it feels more like watching a foreign film than a play.
A small but incredibly talented cast of actors, including stunning young actress Helene Kuhn, portray young singles who wander through the streets of Paris, bumping into each other at cafes and late at night on the banks of the River Seine. It is in these situations that they come to find themselves discussing matters of love and attraction – and ultimately either walking off into the sunset hand in hand or parting ways alone to continue the eternal search. I had the great fortune to meet the director and ask her a few questions before she left New York for Paris recently.
Tell us about your new play Encounters. As a film-maker, why did you choose to venture into live theater?
I love theater and we did this play in Paris for a year. When I decided to move to New York, the play was still performing in Paris, and I really wanted to do it here. Live theater is such a great experience. Every night is different, the audience changes and laughs at different moments than the day before. Especially in a comedy, it’s a real challenge every night!
Why write a play and have it performed all in French? Is French simply more romantic and or a better way to explore the mysterious theme of love?
I wrote this play back in 2007 in France. I wanted to translate in English for here. But it was written for the French language, and so unfortunately we loose a lot of the humour in English. When I talk with some friends here, they were interested about the idea of doing a French play in New York even though they didn’t speak French. That’s why I love New York, there is so many different cultures, and people are open to others. So I said to myself that’s it, let’s do it in French!
Which film-makers inspire you most?
I love Woody Allen. I love his humour, his work. I love the fact that he is doing a film every year. I came here with all my DVDs of Woody Allen and Pedro Almodovar. For both of them I can’t wait to see their next film in theaters.
Has living in New York City influenced you artistically? How?
Every little thing inspires me. But what I love the most is light here, it’s so beautiful. It’s sunny almost everyday, and at the end of the afternoon every night is a new painting. The sky is never really dark in New York, even late. When I shot my first feature film Thank You New York here I fell in love with the city because it’s photogenic.
What is next for you? A new film project or will you be taking the play back to France?
I’m working on my script this summer for my next feature, and I’m probably gonna do a play in Paris. I need to do both, I love both.
Encounters had a run at Center Stage on 48 West 21st from June 21 to July 4th and may have another in September 2010.