Parisian Nights, the latest collaboration between the College and town organizations, is a series of French-themed soirées throughout the month of February. Visitors can attend free screenings of two French films—Paris and Tell No One—at the historic Strand Theater downtown. The recently-opened Grinnell Arts Center is the venue for an exhibition of photos of France (the gallery has a sample) taken by Grinnell College students. The exhibition will be accompanied by a couple of wine and cheese receptions. The arts center is also the venue for the Actors Theatre production of "Waiting for Godot." An après theatre French dessert bar follows one of the showings. And Bourbon Street Restaurant joins in with a French-themed dinner special.
The celebration of French cinema and cuisine is sponsored by the Grinnell Area Arts Council and several Grinnell College groups—the Department of French, Center for International Studies, and Office of Community Enhancement and Engagement. “This is an exciting collaboration,” says Monica Chavez-Silva, director of community enhancement and engagement, “one that combines the cultural talents and interest of both the College and the town. And what better time to ‘escape to Paris’ than in the middle of February?”
Philippe Moisan, chair of the French department, says discussion started with talk of film screenings. The Strand Theater, he says, is a great location. “We wanted to show the films in real 35mm copy, in a real cinema.” Event organizers felt that the screenings went well with another scheduled event, the Actors Theatre’s production of "Waiting for Godot," a play which was originally written in French and premiered in Paris in 1953. Parisian Nights took off from there.
Moisan says, "As an academic institution, it is important that knowledge can circulate not only within the College, but also within the community. And that students are able to share their experiences in France, as they do with the photo exhibition, not only with fellow students and the faculty, but with the larger community."
“This event” Chavez-Silva says, “is a perfect example of how we, on-campus and off, can use our resources in ways that are good for everyone involved. The French department gets a broader audience, the Stand gets different movies, the Arts Council generates interest in their international programs, and we’re able to make more accessible the College programs that are already there, and already happening, in a really simple way.” She was impressed with how easily it all came together, describing the process as one of “connect-the-dots” with different people offering suggestions and adding to the program. “It shows an enthusiasm, creativity, and willingness to work together that really is special about this town,” she says. She adds, "If the events are successful, we would love to expand with other regionally-themed events in the future."
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