A Tale of Paris Synchronicity and Femi-NIN-ism
We were lunching at Le Petit Marché on Wednesday afternoon minding our own business when the young, bearded man to my left leaned into our table and just boldly asked, “What are you DOING tonight?”
We all stopped short in our dining tracks looking wide-eyed, then laughed. I answered with another question, “I don’t know, what are YOU doing tonight?”
A small chuckle in response came from him before he proceeded to explain why he had asked such an audacious question with no introduction or cause. He was dining with an older woman, who turned out to be his mother. He spoke perfect English with no French accent while she spoke English with a heavy French accent.
He continued, “Would you like to come to a Dance Opera tonight at the Nouvelle Eve?”
“That’s funny, a client of mine, who is a professional dancer, just told me the other night that she got a gig dancing at the Nouvelle Eve. She said it’s just near the Moulin Rouge and her show is opening in April. But, that’s the first I’d ever heard of the theater,” I interjected.
“This is the last night of our performance. It’s a Dance Opera about the life of Anaïs Nin. I will have tickets waiting for you at the box office if you want to come.”
“Is it in French or English,” I queried further.
“It’s in French AND English. You’ll see.”
We looked at one another and agreed. Why not? It sounded like a fun and spontaneous thing to do, especially to see the Nouvelle Eve to which I had been invited for the upcoming show by my client, the dancer. I wasn’t sure what a Dance Opera was, but one can guess that it involves singing and dancing.
I gave Ariel Benarroch, the bearded young man, my card so he could put the tickets in my name. We planned on showing up about 8 p.m. to get good seats. We knew nothing about him or the show, but what the hell? What did we have to lose?
That afternoon, just before we set out for the theater, Ariel phoned. In his already established pattern of being very direct, he barely said hello then launched into stating, “Standing next to me is Barry Weiss, Niki’s brother.”
“Are you serious?” I asked. “Niki, from Los Angeles whose birthday it is today? I just popped off a Facebook message to her to send her well wishes. What is Barry doing there with you?”
Niki is one of my oldest friends who I met in France in the late ’90’s. I had lunch with her son-in-law just a month earlier here in Paris. She shares her birthday with her daughter, Lauren, so I had been in touch with both of them the same day.
“His wife, Janet Roston, is one of the creators of the show!” Ariel added. He is the “Régisseur,” or Production Manager.
“Are you serious? Are you telling me that my friend’s brother and sister-in-law are here in Paris and that this is their production? Your sitting next to us today at lunch and asking if we would like to come was sheer coincidence? Are you serious?”
I was dumbfounded to say the least. The synchronicity was astounding. I have to admit, these kinds of coincidences seem to happen in Paris, whereas not so much in other places. Sometimes I think we are living in the center of the universe and the planets all revolve around US.
We arrived early enough to get really good seats in the beautiful and classic theater. The seats are upholstered in deep red velvet. There is low, indirect lighting. The audience sits around tables so that they can drink champagne or other potables while enjoying the performance. It’s very intimate. There’s not a bad seat in the house.
While settling in, we met Barry and Janet and Janet’s co-creator, Cindy Shapiro. Cindy was mostly responsable for the music and lyrics, while Janet was responsable for the “mise en scène” and choreography. Together they were the developers of the entire show. While we waited for the performance to begin, we took photos and sent them on to Niki with words of “Surprise, surprise…you won’t believe where we are and who we are with!”
The lights went down and the two-part performance began. While I certainly knew some things about Anaïs Nin, I can’t say I really knew her life story. With one primary singer, a troupe of dancers, a simple set and a backdrop of the lyrics in French and English mixed with Anaïs’ words, the story is told. And what a story it is! Nin was a diarist, essayist, novelist, and writer of short stories. What she is most famous for is her writings of erotica (Delta of Venus and Little Birds). Nin was married to two men at the same time (Hugh Parker Guiler and Rupert Pole) and had numerous affairs, including those with writer Henry Miller and psychoanalyst Otto Rank. Nin referred to her simultaneous marriages as her “bicoastal trapeze.” She was the first known woman in the modern West to write erotica — a ground-breaking feminist to say the least. Clearly this is why Janet and Cindy want to share her story with the world in a way that we can all welcome it.
The performance was beautifully staged and executed. The talent of the performers “formidable,” particularly the singer and lead dancer. It enticed me to learn more about Anaïs Nin and to read her works. And that’s the point, to revel in the accomplishments of women who lived and struggled to be recognized in a man’s world.
Nin wrote: “How wrong is it for a woman to expect the man to build the world she wants, rather than to create it herself?”
Do we not agree?
And she wrote: “I hate men who are afraid of women’s strength.”
Do we not agree?
And “I take pleasure in my transformations. I look quiet and consistent, but few know how many women there are in me.”
Do we not agree?
From Paris, the performance goes to the Festival International du Théatre in Casablanca, Morocco…tomorrow night, March 20th. Catch it there if you can!
A la prochaine…
Adrian Leeds Group
(with Janet Roston)
P.S. For all you Southern Californians, I’ll be in Los Angeles and open to meeting with clients for two-hour property consultations in person sometime between April 30th and May 4th. Special rate $350. To book your consultation, email me at [email protected]