These days (August 7, 8, 10 and 11) if you’re in Tarn-et-Garonne you can attend a pretty interesting show in the town of Valence d’Agen. It is called Au Fil de l’Eau (“with the stream”) and it’s a live show retelling the main events of the history of the town in the 20th Century.
What may have started as a small event has grown during its 19 years of existence into something pretty big involving up to 450 people on “stage” and most likely even more for production. If I just put stage in quotation marks it’s because there isn’t really a stage. All the action take place of both banks of the Canal de Garonne, the audience being seated on bleachers on the north side of the canal. This setting allows the action to be very close to the audience in the foreground as well as allowing a very large background full of action.
I attended the event two years ago, just days after moving back to Agen from Paris. It was an interesting way to reacquaint myself with the local culture (my dad is from the area, he went to school in Valence d’Agen and most of my family his side still lives in or around the town).
I have to admit, I was expecting something a bit cheap, tacky… Not at all. A lot of effort has been put in the production. A lot of it feels genuine, and it’s because most of it is genuine in a sense. Clothes, vehicles, accessories, most of them are genuine indeed. And the reason is simple, things last in the countryside. In local houses and farms, it’s not rare to find old tools, bicycles, even clothes that are several decades old. Some of them barely needing anything to be functional and not decrepit looking again. I remember being a kid and rummaging through my grandmother’s attic. It was full of everyday life stuff dating back to as far as one hundred years ago (case in point, the old postcards I publish here from time to time).
Sure, the acting of the main characters could be better (but guess what, those people are not actors, they’re local residents) especially when the extras play extremely well (maybe because they play themselves in a way).
Sure, the dialogues are a bit too artificial. The syntax is too perfect, the grammar flawless, the vocabulary very proper. It feels like it’s been written by a schoolteacher for his students (and maybe it was).
But really, that’s just nitpicking from my part, what they’ve done is amazing providing they’re all volunteers and that they prepare the show year-round during their freetime.
So, if you’re currently in the area or will be there soon (I know a lot of English speakers are in August), I warmly advise you to go see the show.
And of course, if you get to see Au Fil de l’Eau in Valence d’Agen, drop me a line here to share your thoughts.