How can you love a foreigner?
To come across a production that can give an answer to this question is like finding an American with a flawless French accent. Even more rare is to find one performed bilingually, mingled with modern dance, and incorporating the complex theme of foreign relations.
Written, choreographed, produced and performed by one woman, The Language is Nicola Ayoub’s ‘baby’, a project she has been working on for over two years. An artist living the ‘American Dream’ in Paris, she has adapted her experience as a foreigner into a funny and sultry performance combining acting and dancing with music and movement.
Nicola asks many questions in her show – like why we all of a sudden become nostalgic for a country we left behind – and launches into the American pastimes of blueberry pancakes, college football, bad beer, and smiley people. She points out, (while pirouetting), that all these things once ridiculed are now cherished once you’re away from them: ‘c’est drole, n’est-ce pas?’ she asks, in her decidedly cheerful American accent.
Her use of Franglais works in these sequences, switching between languages to appeal to both an English & French audience while highlighting the comedic trials an American learning French.
Any foreigner in France will relate to how she expresses her frustrations with living in Paris as much as her devotions to the city which are contradicting yet equally balanced – teetering from complete confusion to pure joy – and everything in between.
Incorporating a variety of music from ‘La Vie en Rose’, to edgy Muse, to traditional Egyptian from her Arabic heritage, Nicola changes the dance tempo often, merging contemporary jazz with classical ballet while inserting bilingual monologues in between.
So, how can you love a foreigner? “It’s easy,” says Nicola. “We want to learn, to eat up your words, to take full advantage and ‘profiter au maximum’ as the French would say.” So what she is saying really is, let us do just that.
Nicola is the only star in this one-woman show, but not the only foreigner in Paris. Somehow it’s nice to know we’re all in this together.
The Language plays 18 and 19 September at 20h30. Tickets cost €16 or €10 (reduced tariff).
Theatre de Temps
9 rue Morvan, 11th
Tel 01 43 55 88 10