9 FRANCE, PART TWO:
The next day, in Rennes, Fabrice leads a class in an awareness/relaxation technique called “Sophrologie” and I attend two sessions. Midday we romp around the old city and take films of Elmo in front of castles, antique washing wells and other scenes straight out of the Charles Laughton version of “The Hunchback of Notre dame.” Fabrice procures a piano-lesson room in a school where there’s a decent Kawai grand piano and I get in a good 90 minutes of practice time. (I do have a concert scheduled in Paris in a few days…) Lolita and Fabrice are present for the first 10 minutes; my rendition of “I shall always love you Lorraine” moves her to tears. (Alright!) They leave and for the next 80 minutes it’s just me -- and a dozen preschoolers who are frolicking outside. Some of them take a gander at me, peering through the glass door from time to time.
That evening we go to another Laughter Club session. Many of those from the evening session two nights earlier are present, along with several others and a half-dozen newbies. Total attendance is about 65 jolly souls. Wow! Participation is vigorous; one ”regular” shares that this is the first time she experienced Laughter Yoga as a real work-out (thanks to the aerobic-style of the American laughter leader). After the session there is a community food-sharing (they don’t have an equivalent for our term “potluck”) with great friendliness, and some sincerely-amazed testimonials from the newbies. Email addresses are swapped between many and future sharing are anticipated with wonderment.
At breakfast I ask Lolita if her ankle feels better, and she says it has improved. I ask if she is ready to “Kick Ass,” and she of course replies, “Comment?” (“Wha…?”). This is always fun, explaining slang... The use of terms like “Strike with the foot, “ “backside,” ”vulgarism,” and “feeling strong” lead her to say that she feels only “demi-Kick Ass” (at half-strength.) Hah!
In the morning Fabrice and I go to participate for a few hours in a multiple-day training/workshop for actors and event-leaders focused on Theatre Games. The master teacher, who speaks excellent English (he lived in Ohio for quite some time) shares some flattering words with me, and then continues the class – entirely in French, mais bien sur! At first he gives a really nice explanation on Left Brain vs. Right Brain functioning, and I learn a handy new French verb: “Differencier” (to differentiate). I am delighted when I realize that I am certain to use this term in future workshops. The fellow then leads a goodly number of playful activities, all of which require considerable memorization – of words, names, rules, etc.
This proves a bit too much for my second-language efforts. Fortunately the group is far more prone to laughter than to criticism, so when I screw up, everyone just laughs. We even go outside – the weather is fabulous, what a delight! The clear sunlight feels so good on my skin. When the teacher asks who wants to lead some other games, I am the first to volunteer. I guide three or four laughter exercises and Fabrice leads a few more. These are well-received (even if they don’t require any note-taking) and friendly vibes are shared by all as Fabrice and I take our leave. My bags get packed, a last lunch with the family of Lilou, and I’m back on the fast train from Rennes to Paris.