French Actors Perform on Campus


Jerry Sheng '20

Actors from the Compagnie Claude Beauclair group perform in Walker Auditorium last Tuesday.

The annual tradition of a play by professional French-speaking actors took place this year on Tuesday, October 16 in the Black Box Theater. The school advocates “global citizenship,” and opportunities like the French Play certainly help to shape a student body with global perspectives. 

The first French Play took place more than ten years ago when a famous theater group, Compagnie Claude Beauclair, performed in Walker Auditorium. Ms. Wendy Levithan, instructor in French, recalls the play as “a real success.” At the time, she was in her second year teaching at Hotchkiss and aided in the coordination of the event.

Learning to communicate effectively is crucial, but, to Ms. Levithan, language mastery means something more than simple technical proficiency. “[Learning language] is,” she said, “on the one hand, a pragmatic communicative skill and, on the other, an entry into a magical culture…[which] the French Black Box productions bring alive for our students.”  Elissa Ito ’19, a second-year French student, agrees: “One way you can connect with people is by trying to speak in their native language.”

The play offers a unique opportunity for students to immerse themselves in French culture. According to Ms. Sarinda Wilson, instructor in French, immersion is important when learning a language, even if one is a beginner.  “Languages are felt and lived,” she says. “They’re not passive… the lights, sounds, and action [of the play] will enhance what we all hear.”

The tradition of the play went dormant for two years before its reintroduction this year. For lowerclass students, the French Play is, therefore, completely new. Kiki Henry ’22 looks forward to the new experience: “[It] will be a way for us to really become immersed in French culture.”

Ms. Wilson also notes that the play is a “chance to meet people who are… exceedingly committed to education and the art of theatre.”  A language can be learned in the classroom, but it is only truly brought alive in application. Activities like the French Play bridge the gap between the classroom and the world.