Assignment Turns Into Theatrical Production

El Vaquero Staff Writer

GCC French 104 students starred in their own plays at the college main stage auditorium on Monday.

The class was split into threedifferent groups and the assignment was to write plays in French.

Even though the groups worked separately, they all came up with the same theme of war. The students said the timing of when they started working on the plays had an effect on the choice of theme because “war was in the headlines.”

Alex Thiltges, French instructor at GCC and at UCLA, said that “absurd” was the genre of play that the students were supposed to work on and that at first he did not intend to turn the plays into theatrical productions. But after reading them he thought differently. “I didn’t think it would work, but when I saw the plays I thought `Wow! Three different plays. We should do something about [this],'” said Thiltges.

After a month of rehearsals, Thiltges and his students presented a French theatrical, film and music event starring GCC French 104 students, and guest starring singers Pablo De la Puente and Sergio Morales, both of whom had previously taken French lessons at GCC.

De la Puente played the guitar while he performed a series of French songs written by French musician Gorge Brassens. By briefly explaining the lyrics of each song, he made them understandable to the non-French speaking part of the audience.

Not everything had an English translation. The three plays were entirely in French. “I don’t speak French, but I thought the acting was great,” said audience member Rachel Walker.

The audience of about fifty also included some who were fluent in French. Laura Maschmeyer, 25, moved to United States from France a year and half ago. “I thought it was really fun and different-original,” she said. “It was easy to understand because it was pronounced very well.”

Pamela Shriver, 45, a student taking a conversational French course at GCC, said, “I think they all were unique with some comedy involved. Most of these students probably speak other language as their first language and it’s amazing that they perform so well in French.”

Each play addressed the war from a different perspective. The first one called, “Le Triomphe La Peur (Triumph of Fear),” concentrated on how the war changes personalities, said the students. In that play, a the captain acts courageous but leaves her soldiers behind and runs for her life at the first hint of danger.

The second play, “Pour Le Salut de L’ Humanite (For the Salvation of Humanity),” starred three musketeers and “addressed those who think of war with enthusiasm, as an adventure, without considering the costs involved or any possible alternatives,” said Constance McNally, 38; currently majoring in Linguistics at Cal State Northridge while taking the French 104 class at GCC.

The third play, “La Der Des Hers Des Ders,” (war to end all wars to end all wars,) was the last play of the evening.

John Oligny, 60, French major, said, “I thought it was remarkably varied, and the French students courageous. The amount of dialogue they took on was challenging. They did a wonderful job.”

At intermission, the audience was entertained by coin and card tricks performed by a magician from UCLA, Matt Jarman, 20, communications major, who is also a student of Thiltges.

Thiltges has been teaching French both at GCC and UCLA. This is his last semester at GCC. After teaching here for two years, he will be moving to Missouri.

Opera singer, Sergio Morales, 73, started the second half of the event and lightened the mood by performing “The Marriage of Figaro.” The second song, performed by Morales, had originally been a poem written by St. Therese of Lisieux. Morales was deteremined to take French after reading the poem so he could translate it. “The lyrics reached me and I started writing the music to them,” said Morales.

The production ended with two short movies written by filmmaker Michael Horelick, both of which were made in France and directed by Jon Cranoy.
The first short movie was called, “Le Barbier (The Barber.)” Its theme was the “choices that we are forced to make in a war,” said Horelick. It was a very tense movie, involving a barber who had the opportunity to slit the throat of his enemy, a German officer, while shaving the his face. He chooses not to, and ends up dead as the German officer shoots him.when the barber is through.

Horelick also premiered his other movie, “Benet Thomas (Ben and Thomas),” that night. It centered around the friendship and courage” of two skateboarder friends. Horelick plans on making it into a feature movie.