James and Emily spent many long months preparing for an International Theater Festival to take place in our village. They met with officials from various government agencies, raised funds, created advertising and invited a fantastic group of actors and film makers to join them in offering a week of events to the villagers and tourists who come to enjoy the area during summer.

There were actors from France, Spain, Italy, Belgium, England and the United States. Cinematographers came from Italy and Switzerland. The support staff included people from Hong Kong, England, France and the United States.

Four theater pieces were prepared in advance, and during the week a fifth show, based on the history of the village as recounted by residents, was written, reheased and presented at the conclusion of the festival,.

The festival also included the screening of several short subjects created by the film crew, who also produced a documentary of the festival itself, part of which was aired on France 3 News during the week.

Françoise Furic, a writing teacher from Brittany, offered a three day workshop on creative writing.

The festival drew a good audience and garnered glowing reviews in the local and regional press.

Claire and Emily Kreider making posters in our kitchen to advertise each day's events.

James was the graphic arts master, creating the brochure and poster and contacting the press.

The expert film crew sets up for the evening performance. They provided all the technical assistance, including lights and sound.
Each evening featured a parade
through town to gather interest.

Support Activities
Rick and I were members of the support team. Our main job was making lunches for the artists, as well as offering a couple of dinners. Half of the group stayed with us, and the other in town, but everyone came to le Moulin for the mid-day meal. Françoise, on days when she wasn't leading her workshop, was co-chef. Everyone pitched in to bus dishes and clean up.

Susanna was the ever faithful and dependable gatekeeper, carrying around her strongbox and keeping everything organized and running smoothly. This wasn't always the easiest job, as she frequently had to dash between venues with her mobile ticket stand. The performances were held in six seperate locations around the village.

The Participants

The Actors
All the actors were trained at Ecole Jacques LeCoq in Paris.

Jofre Caraben, Spain
Omar Elerian, Italy
Emily Wilson, U.S.
Claire Coaché, England
Nathalie Baunaure, France
James Wilson, U.S.
Emily Kreider, U.S.

Omar, Claire, James and Emily Kreider all graduated this June.

Jofre, Nathalie and Emily Wilson graduated in 2003.

Omar participated in last summer's more modest village event, the single performance of a play written by James, which was renamed and reworked for this summer's festival.

The Cinematographers
The actors were very fortunate to have the participation of three very talented film makers. They were a huge asset to the week's events, offering all the technical support and creating a wonderful documentary film of the festival. They also brought some of their own very professional work and screened it for the village. Their generosity, positive energy and expertise were greatly appreciated.

Adriano Valerio, Italy
Luc Wolpoth, Switzerland
Matteo Ramagnoli, Italy

Matteo is also known as Jonny Cantina, his stage name as lead singer for the popular Italian rock group "Three Flowers for Zoë."

The Speaker & Workshop Leader
Jos Houben (Belgium) served as director for some of the shows and also offered a solo presentation.

Françoise Furic (France), James' AFS mother and our good friend, came all the way from Brest to give a three day writing workshop. When Françoise wasn't teaching, she was usually cooking or washing piles of dishes.

The Support Team
The company was fortunate to have wonderful support from some talented and energetic volunteers. Help was offered in every facet of the week's activities: promoter, stage hand, ticket taker, dishwasher, driver, even stand-in actor. These lovely people were a huge help and an indispensible addition to the company.

Susanna, Italy
Lisle, England
Justine, Hong Kong

The Shows & Activities

Decay Unlimited

This cabaret, written and performed by Emily, Jofre and Nathalie, was an hysterical and irreverant look at mortality and death, filled with unforgetable songs, wonderful dancing and some incredible comedy. These three have been developing the show for many months, and their dedication shows. I don't think it could have been any more professional or engaging. The comic timing was perfect, and each actor brought a unique flair to the stage.

They plan to take the show to other venues. It is certainly ready for a wider audience.

A la Tombée de la Nuit

"At Night Fall," written and performed by James, Emily Kreider and Claire, is a magical journey of a little boy just as he is falling asleep. He meets several phantasmagorical creatures who either give him gifts or attempt to take them away from him. The costumes were fabulous and the staging, which had the audience follow the action along the riverbank, was exciting and fun. The children followed the little boy, played by James, as if he were the pied piper. Claire and Emily did some very impressive quick changes in the bushes!


Au-dessus du Brouillard

"Above the Fog", written by James and performed by Omar and Emily Wilson was completely rewritten and staged for the festival. It is the story of a boy whose mother has died and he is unable to accept it, so he finds a tree and takes up residence there. A little girl discovers him and they become friends. In the end she helps him to face the tragedy in his life. The play was performed in two venues, one indoors and one out. The second show attracted the largest audience of the festival, about 150. Last year's performance was in an actual tree. This year Omar, James and Rick built a tree-like structure which was quite effective.

L'Art du Rire

"The Art of Laughing" was a fascinating analysis of what kinds of things make people laugh and why. It was an insider's look into comic theater, highly entertaining and informative. Jos is a director of many European comics, as well as a founding member of "Complicité" in London, and the creator/director of several humorous children's television programs. His knowledge of the subject matter is broad.

Atelier d'Écriture

During the mornings, Françoise offered a writing workhop. She asked her students to write successively about a thing, a place and a person, one topic for each of the three days. As inspiration she read to them from some of her favorite authors. Participants enjoyed themselves very much. Saint Léonard has a number of public buildings, and the course was held in one of them, the old cantina.

La Sarthe – une Création
During the week the festival participants interviewed local residents about the history of the area and created a spontaneous show re-enacting some of the stories. It was performed for free at the conclusion of the festival as a gift to the village.


After all the bags were packed, and people were ready to depart for various points of the globe, Françoise read us a very charming "compliment" she had written to express her happiness at taking part in this wonderful festival week. She beautifully conveyed something we all felt, which was what a special privilege it had been to participate. We all worked very hard together and were as tired as could be, but very happily so since the experience brought so many rewards. Every person involved was a jewel and gave geneously of themselves to form this troupe of people who offered a wonderful gift to the town. Several of the villagers who housed or fed the company expressed regrets that they would be leaving. The energy the company brought was completely positive and exciting. We will all carry very happy memories of our first festival year together. The mayor of the town gave us a party afterwards to express his own satisfaction with the way things had gone and invited the company to come again next year. Plans are already being developed.