On January 29, over 20 of the finest Niçois artists are coming together for a charity event for the victims of the Berlin Christmas market terror attack.
In Nice, the shock was deep and ripped open wounds that had barely begun to heal when on December 19 the news came that Berlin had just suffered a terror attack, carried out the same heinous way as it had happened just five months earlier on the Promenade des Anglais. Twelve people lost their lives and 53 more were badly injured at the Breitscheidplatz Christmas market attack. A cruel déjà-vu for many Niçois. But as soon as the first wave of horror subsided, Nice sprang into action to show its solidarity with the grief-stricken German capital: 20 performing and plastic artists from Nice come together in a unique and high-profile charity event on 29 January at 17 h at the Théâtre Francis Gag, with the proceeds going to the Berlin victims and their families.
The programme is a reflective and joyful celebration of theatre, dance, music and readings around the central theme of freedom, tolerance, and peace, and rounded out by an exhibit of photography, paintings and sculptures. German-American culture journalist Natja Igney, who initiated the event, and Nice-born international actor Marc Duret jointly present the two-hour show.
“When I heard about the Berlin attack, I remembered something that many of my Niçois artist friends had spontaneously expressed just after the tragedy on the Promenade last year… they wanted to do something to show that art and culture will always prevail over violence and ignorance. At the time, with venues closed for the annual summer break, such an event was not feasible. But after the Berlin attack, I launched an appeal on Facebook, and within 15 minutes I had massive response. Everyone was eager to participate pro bono, and to support the good cause of donating the proceeds to the victims of Berlin and their families,” Natja explains. “I am immensely proud of our Niçois artists to participate so generously in this charity event.” Within days, her project was also supported by the Centre Culturel Franco-Allemand, which is part of the international Goethe Institut network, the City of Nice who contributes by delegating prominent speakers, and the Théâtre Francis Gag which offered its stage to host the show.
To say the line-up is impressive, is understating the case. It is a veritable Best Of, and rare is the chance to see so much talent united on one stage.
Contributors, in the order of their appearance, include:
The Syrian-born, longtime Nice resident is a surgeon by day and an artist the rest of his time. Under the motto “Make Bubbles Not War”, he creates bubble art, adorned with photography and accompanied by poetry. Just last November he traveled to Berlin, and he will share his impressions from there.
This young wheelchair-bound saxophonist knows a thing about hardships and overcoming them by sheer willpower and tenacity
The young and wildly successful Théâtre l’Impertinent contributes an excerpt from Pierre Desprogues’ bittersweet yet humorous text, “Vivons Heureux en Attendant la Mort”.
Mari Laurila-Lili brings two of her friends – famous clown Nicolas Houssin and accordion player Aude Giuliano – to perform excerpts from their current popular programme, Berlin style cabaret of the 1920s where the music of Friedrich Holländer and the immortal texts of Karl Valentin meet.
Jean-Charles Prini / Christophe Turgie
Charlie is a cop. A cop who has the gift of writing with Paulo Coelho’s philosophy and Antoine de St. Exupéry’s poetry. In his prose, he often processes what he experiences in his work. One of his texts will be read by Comédie Française-trained actor Christophe Turgie.
Steve Villa Massone
Music is for sharing, and that’s what this amazingly talented pianist and composer does. He and his red piano have been a fixture in the streets of Nice for 16 years, gathering crowds wherever he plays.
Khaled Youssef, founder of Syria.Art, presents this virtual gallery of over 700 Syrian artists at home and in the diaspora. This is Syria’s way to thank Berlin for welcoming refugees, and to encourage the citizens of Berlin not to resign to terror but to keep on living as best they can.
Pascal Reva and Frédéric Audibert
Funk meets classic? Oh hell yeah, we can! You know you are in for an exquisite musical treat when Pascal Reva, member of the immensely popular and internationally successful band Nojazz, and his friend, cellist virtuoso Frédéric Audibert, team up….
Reading of “Lettre à l’Homme Armé”, a moving text written in 1978 during the Lebanon war by Nizar Kabbani (French translation: Khaled Youssef). The eternal question of “Why?”, will it find its answer here?
Cyrille de Gonzalgue & Mélissa Calatayud
With an excerpt of their current programme Les 1001 de Shéhérazade, where oriental dance meets hip-hop, this couple shows us how to gracefully bridge different cultures
Marc Duret / Laurent Zoppis
The Niçois actor-turned-international-movie-star recites one of the most moving poems ever written, Ecoutez! by Vladimir Maïakovski, musically accompanied by Laurent Zoppis
Recited by Marc Duret
Puisqu’on allume les étoiles,
c’est qu’elles sont à
C’est que quelqu’un désire
C’est que quelqu’un dit perles
Et, forçant la bourrasque à midi des poussières,
il fonce jusqu’à Dieu,
craint d’arriver trop tard, pleure,
baise sa main noueuse, implore
il lui faut une étoile!
jure qu’il ne peut supporter
son martyre sans étoiles.
il promène son angoisse,
il fait semblant d’être calme.
Il dit à quelqu’un :
” Maintenant, tu vas mieux,
n’est-ce pas? T’as plus peur ? Dis ? “
Puisqu’on allume les étoiles,
c’est qu’elles sont à quelqu’un nécessaires ?
c’est qu’il est indispensable,
que tous les soirs
au-dessus des toits
se mette à luire seule au moins
faSade (via video)
Polish-American songwriter faSade was an eye witness to the Nice attack and was spared by pure coincidence. He dedicates the song he wrote about his experience, called 84 Flowers – along with 20% of the proceeds from sales – to the victims of that fateful night on the Prom.
The wonderfully talented company of the Théâtre de la Semeuse, a Niçois cultural fixture forever, closes the evening with a couple of Commedia dell’arte style scénettes… an artform that under the disguise of humour holds up the mirror to society.
Five plastic artists of renown turn the hall of the Théâtre Francis Gag into an art museum for the day:
Khaled Youssef’s photography takes centre stage with no less than ten of his spectacular œuvres around the central theme of coming together in love and harmony. What’s more, he has pledged the proceeds from the sales of his works for the Berlin victims fund – a gesture of unparalleled generosity.
Award-winning painter and sculptor Michel Anthony sends his work “Liberty and Unity”, which has garnered the praise of international art critics. He also displays additional works around the theme in his atelier at 20, rue Droite, just one street over from the Théâtre Francis Gag.
Louis-Paul Fallot, one of the region’s most popular photographers with an exquisite eye for surprising angles and perspective, shows a selection of his portfolio, including Le Cœur, the artwork the City of Nice erected next to the Pavillion de la Musique, honouring the Niçois victims.
Father Yves-Marie Lequin, known around town as the chaplain to the artists, is a respected painter in his own right, and contributes his work to the day exhibit.
Finally, vision-impaired multi-disciplinary artist Laura Hurt shows that a handicap stops no one from productively and creatively contributing to society if only they set their mind to it. Her dedication to a world reigned by fraternity fits well into the overall theme.
Internationally renowned actor Marc Duret who co-hosts the event, is proud to contribute to this tribute from one suffering city to another: “My home town of Nice has a lot in common with Berlin. Both cities welcome people from different cultures with open arms. Both cities greatly value arts and culture. And now, both cities share the same tragic fate of a terror attack, committed in the same atrocious manner. It is only logical that Nice wholeheartedly stands with Berlin, and we hope we can contribute in our way to comfort the victims and their families, as well as all traumatized Berliners, to help them overcome their pain and to send them strength and positive energy for the challenges ahead.”
Replying to the question why the proceeds are donated to the victims of Berlin, Natja Igney states that unlike in France and other countries, the German government does not supply financial aid in such cases, it is therefore up to charities, NGOs or even insurance companies to assist, which often leaves victims in substantial financial hardship. “To be clear, our donation will go to helping all victims and their families, regardless of nationality.” The attack cost the lives of seven German nationals, and those of citizens from Poland, the Czech Republic, Ukraine, Italy, and Israel. 53 people sustained serious injuries. Particularly poignant, the case of one young Muslim woman from Berlin, who was severely injured in the Bastille Day attack in Nice. She had just been released from hospital in Berlin days before December 19 and made her first steps back into the world … only to walk straight into the Christmas market attack.
Among the confirmed speakers are city councilor Dr. Christiane Amiel, a German native and longtime Nice resident, who has also recently founded the local chapter of the Goethe Institut, and Tobias Bülow, president of the local Centre Culturel Franco-Allemand. The participation of other high-profile speakers has been signaled although not yet formally confirmed at time of press.
Sponsors include, among others, Ville de Nice and Théâtre Francis Gag, Centre Culturel Franco-Allemand, Syria.Art, and a high-profile organization from Monaco. RIVIERA BUZZ is proud to support this event as the premier media partner.
This one-off event is taking place on Sunday, 29th January 2017 at 17h00 at Théâtre Francis Gag. Admission fee is €15 (reduced rate €12), children under 8 are free. All proceeds from ticket sales as well as the sale of Khaled Youssef’s works will go directly to the Berlin Victims fund.
Be sure not to miss this Nice Show of solidarity for Berlin …
Théâtre Francis Gag
4, rue de la Croix
Lead image © Khaled Youssef; photo of Marc Duret © Lise Levy