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The Jesuit Schools’ Theatre Festival took place in Amiens on Ascension Day. Pascal Gauderon, coordinator, looks back on the event.

We enjoyed the well-oiled program put together by the organizing team, under a radiant and constant sunshine, just like the faces filled with wonder at the talent and friendship shared: 9 shows given by troupes of high-school students from Amiens (Providence), Reims (Saint-Joseph), Lyon (Saint-Marc et Belmont), Bordeaux (Tivoli), Marseille (Provence), offered a wide range of authors (from Shakespeare to contemporary works retouched by the students, via a mix of Chekhov... ), styles (we laughed a lot, but tragedy was often present too), moods (from Antiquity to the present day, via the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, the 19th century and the 1940s... from Russia to England, via Japan and Greece...), staging styles (from the most sober to the most technically sophisticated)...

In addition to these plays, which were performed in front of the other troupes and a small outside audience, a wide choice of workshops enabled festival-goers to practice various related arts (improvisation, vocal range, dance, set design...) or simply play (field hockey, for example) or discover Amiens, its cathedral and greenery, in peace and quiet.

Beginning with a parish mass where the parish priest, an artist himself, made a strong link between the art of theatre and the mystery being celebrated (those who weren't there were able to discover, instead, the life of Ignatius of Loyola, evoked on stage by a Jesuit), and ending with a literal midnight mass for volunteers, this festival was truly Jesuit: driven by our pedagogy of re-reading, but also naturally enough by the very fact of theatre, by emulation, peer education, Magis, reflection on the fundamental subjects tackled in the course of the plays (love, commitment, reality TV and the fabrication of lies, missionary vocation, politics and freedom, healing of memory...), with this taste for loving and serving in many ways... theatre being a particularly appreciable and appreciated one.

Pascal Gauderon SJ

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