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Geneva Notes – Puppet Theatre

Geneva Notes are my attempt to document some of the cool, often not-so-visible creative things that happen in our little town. This one starts with a story:

A few weeks ago I got home from work and M said: “I’ve done something – it might be great, it might be terrible”

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The “something” he’d done was to impulsively book tickets for the Théâtre des Marionnettes de Genève – the Geneva puppet theatre. The performance he’d booked for was called “Mathilde”. On booking, M had mistakenly thought it was a re-telling of the Roald Dahl classic Matilda. The book and musical are two of my favourite things, so I could see where this had come from.

However, upon later inspection of the website it turned out that this was not the case. As far as we could make out, it was a puppet performance about ageing, and loneliness… in French. Hmmm.

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Having bought the tickets, and being pretty game for an experiment, especially when it comes to a Geneva-based cultural experience, we decided to go for it nonetheless.

The theatre is tucked away at the top end of Plainpalais. You turn down a side street and into what I think is a school playground, and there it is.

The theatre puts on a mixture of performances for children and adults. This one was billed as being for “adults and teens”, and there was a big turnout, the place was packed. We filed in and took our seats. On the stage was a single puppet, strung up on some bars – a haggard, wizened caricature. I did wonder at this point what we had let ourselves in for.

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To my surprise and delight however, the performance was absolutely brilliant. It was a tragic comedy about the plight of a group of old folks who were being horribly mistreated in a carehome. There were just two (human) performers – a silent nurse and the puppeteer, but for the most part you forgot they were there.

The movements and mannerisms of the puppets were so perfectly observed, they couldn’t have been more real. And the stories were so moving and so poignant. There was the married couple who were being forced to part because he couldn’t care for her anymore. And the softly spoken man who just wanted someone to open the door, but nobody ever came. Comic relief came in the form of the scheming, cackling pair who ran the establishment (if you’ve never seen a single puppeteer perform a 2-person conversation, with two different voices and lots of laughing, it is extremely impressive!)

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The end of the performance was met with thunderous applause, including ours. It really was absolutely fantastic and we can’t wait to go again. The next couple of performances are for kiddos, but there should be another “grown-up” one soon. Geneva readers, the full programme can be found here.

Siobhan xx

Geneva notes – Dressing up the neighbourhood

Paquis is my neighbourhood. Aside from a brief flirtation in Ferney, it is the only Geneva I have ever known. And it gets mixed reviews. It is the red light district, there is a bustling trade in narcotics, it’s where the drunks come to chill etc. On the other hand, it has great restaurants, it’s right by the lake and it generally feels a little more vibrant and a little more creative than some other Geneva neighbourhoods.

Today’s note is a case in point – a community project called Les Pâquis se rhabillent (Paquis gets dressed). Since October last year a group of urban knitters of all ages have been meeting, knitting and plotting to re-dress our neighbourhood.

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About two weeks ago we started to see signs of what they had been working on. Handrails, bollards, trees, benches – slowly and as if by magic, everyday objects were transformed by colour and texture into pieces of art.

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Saturday marked the official inauguration. We ran down to the square when we heard them coming. A parade of young and old, led by a band of jester-musicians, danced around the sites that had been decorated.

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It was raucous and joyous and wonderful.

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Siobhan xx

Geneva notes

I am going to put this out there (deep breath) – I like Geneva.

For anyone who doesn’t know, this is a controversial statement. By far the most common expat conversation you have/overhear in this town goes like this – omg Geneva is sooooo dull, sooooo boring, nothing eeeeever happens, it’s got nooooo soul. I am soooo flying to x this weekend, because really who’d want to be stuck here??

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I am guilty of having indulged in these conversations myself. Particularly when I first arrived. Because compared to London, Paris, Barcelona, Rome etc. yeah it feels kind of small, parochial even. We don’t get too many big names here. The MAMCO collection rotates pretty slowly. Geneva is not a popular stop for headline musicians. Gourmet burgers just arrived last year as the new big food movement and it is still hard to find a good vegan meal anywhere (apart from this place, which is awesome, and I’m not even vegan).

BUT – I think what I’ve learned in the years that I’ve lived here is that you’ve got to stop comparing Geneva to everywhere else, and just embrace the things it’s good at. Like the lake. Where in Paris can you float the afternoon away in a pristine lake and watch cloud animals chase each other over the alps? Nowhere, that’s where.

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I’m not saying it’s my favourite town on earth. I’m definitely not saying I want to live here forever. I’m just saying Geneva, I like you. And to switch things up a bit I thought I’d try some new posts, focusing on creative happenings of all shapes and sizes here in G-town (and the surrounding area). I’m calling them Geneva notes. Let’s see how we get on.

Siobhan xx

9. Shopping bag for Bernadette

July! Where did you go eh? Well, in fairness, July has been pretty good to us here in Geneva. Lots of nice weather (sorry Britain), and lake-based activities – swimming in, picnicking by, lounging around etc etc. Since everything is lovely and new, I thought I’d start sharing a non-challenge related photo or two, too. Like this – the lake

Or this – our ridiculously quaint, stereotype-fulfilling Sunday market breadstall – YUM
Anyhoo, back to the main feature. Continue reading