On the 17th September, the village of St. Blaise, where I live in the South of France, will take part in the national Fete de la Patrimoine, the day when France opens the doors of its museums for the public’s free entrance. We will do this by holding a Medieval Fete in which a play will be held in the ruins of the Chȃteau of St. Blaise. This play is a dramatisation of one of my stories contained in ‘Another Side of France’ called ‘If Only Stones Could Talk’. My daughter Colette has translated the story into French and it is now called ‘Si Les Pierres Pouvaient Parler’.
The play has been dramatized by a local theatre group called ‘Cie Ni d’Eve Ni d’Adam’ who are a talented, young and enthusiastic. I have been helping them with the dramatisation and have been attending dress rehearsals. Apparently, I might even have a small part!
The story tells of how a ghost has come to haunt the ruins of the Chȃteau, which is found lost in the forest above the present Village’s site. An Association which has been formed to look after the Chȃteau has worked to stabilise its walls and cut away the trees around it. Now the Chȃteau appears to have sprung out of the forest and is becoming a part of village life. We tried to find out the history of these ruins which date from the eleventh century, but it’s not an easy task as these parts of the world have been in the hands of both Italy and France over this period. Some academics from the University of Nice found a little data, in Latin, and it is on this basis that I was inspired to write this story.
The Medieval Fete will include knights in armour making sword combats, medieval music concerts and medieval cooking.
August 2nd 2017: Rehearsals have now started in the grounds of the chateau and I attended them last week. The French theatre group is called 'Ni d'Eve Ni d'Adam' and are young and enthusiastic. The play is of short duration about 30 minutes, but looks very promising. It's exciting to see something you've written acted out in the crumbling magnificence of the Chateau of St. Blaise. Although the story is necessarily shortened it is really filled out by the actors and scenery.
On the day of the Fete 150 people bravely walked the two kilometres through the forest, up 200 metres in altitude to arrive at the Chateau. Logistically, it was a big challenge to put on a play at a site that was so remote for access roads and electricity supply. We had to carry all the props, costumes and sound system one kilometre from where we could drive on forest fire roads and park the 4 x 4 cars. Electricity was supplied by a petrol generator.
The play went off very well until about five minutes before the end, when one of the actors tripped over a cable that fed a loud speaker which then cut out and was unable to be repaired. So, the last few lines of the play were lost, but the audience applauded strongly and the ending of the play was told by the dramatic group’s director. I guess there will always be something that is not quite right.
The play will probably be repeated in February within the confines of St. Blaise village. I have to say I was cock-a-hoop at being involved in its success.
If you want to see a 5-minute video of the Fete Medievale, please click on the Youtube link:
Dave Taylor-Jones was born in Carpenders Park, near Watford and worked most of his life as a chartered structural engineer in the oil and gas sector. He left England in 1970 and has lived and worked abroad in Belgium, Holland, Germany and Australia. In 1980 he settled with his wife and family in the South of France, near Nice. He has written memoirs, poetry, and specialises in short story fiction.