BN Paris

By Irene Fogarty

If you think Paris is already a quiet city at night, it’s just got a lot quieter. Especially for the night-owls. Initiaited by the Mayor of Paris, the city has launched squads of mimes to combat the noisy nightlife. These ‘nocturnal artistic intervention squads’ are called Pierrot de la Nuit  (night mime) and have started in 15 Parisian quartiers. The idea is already up and running successfully in other European cities such as Vienna, Tarragona and Barcelona. For Paris, it’s about using language, theatre, mime and dance to raise awareness among residents, bar-owners and night-owls of noise pollution.

So what sort of Marcel Morceau acts can one expect on a street outside a bar? The mimes are not le gendarmie in garb, they are real artists (dancers, mime performers, clowns, actors) who are bi-lingual, wearing colorful costumes, with only one goal in mind: to calm down night revellers so everyone can enjoy themselves without waking up the neighbours. Working in trios, the 37 assigned ‘Pierrots de la nuit’, comprise of two performers and a mediator. Using mime, acrobatics, and dance, they grab the attention of bewildered Parisians who seem, so far, to be so surprised by the act, they are in fact, left speechless.

By the time the summer outdoor night activity is in full swing, there will be up to sixty mime performers with over twenty mediators to help everyone enjoy the outdoors without screaming or shouting. As the Paris mayor’s office reassures the skeptics, “street performance is not perceived as aggression; on the contrary, it obliges people to listen and be respectful.” And as the mimes themselves put it, “silence is not repressive, but a form of sharing.”

The Pierrots have their own site and blog, http://blogs.paris.fr/pierrotsdelanuit/ and Facebook page. They’re already making a lot of noise in a city that values its tranquility and the importance of getting a good night’s sleep.

keywords: Paris, Parisians, Marcel Marceau, quiet, night-owls, night, noise pollution,  waking up, neighbours, pierrots, nuit, mimes, mime performer, artists, act, squad, street, bars, outdoor, performers, screaming

Originally published May 2012
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