Comedian Paul Dewandre

Adapting John Gray on stage

GMT 12:53 2012 Thursday ,03 May

Arab Today, arab today Adapting John Gray on stage

Dewandre one-man show is a lifetime guide for couples
Beirut - Arabstoday

Dewandre one-man show is a lifetime guide for couples Beirut - Arabstoday American author and marriage counselor John Gray published “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus” in 1992. Since then, Gray’s study of the irreconcilable differences between men and women, the principal reason they don’t understand each other, has found a few sympathetic readers, selling millions of copies worldwide. Several years ago, French comedian Paul Dewandre decided to adapt Gray’s best-seller for the stage in a one-man show that combines scientific research and humor. The show too has found an audience, filling halls when it’s been performed in France. Now the show is coming to Lebanon for a limited engagement. Dewandre spoke to The Daily Star via email about his adaptation and expectations of his visit to Lebanon. Q: How long have you been performing this show and in which countries? A: This [French-language] show has been played in Belgium, France, Switzerland, Morocco, Canada, Luxembourg, Holland, Italy and Germany, with more than 1000 [performances] and more than 800,000 spectators. We have been touring for six years now. Q: Why did you choose to adapt Gray’s book? A: “Men are from Mars, Women from Venus” is [Gray’s] most famous work ... It has been translated in more than 40 languages and more than 50 million copies have been sold all over the world. It is [one] of the best-sellers in the world. I had the chance to meet Dr. Gray in seminars in the U.S. and I thought all this was really interesting. Then, I organized conferences in Europe on [Gray’s work] before I thought of turning it into a one-man show. Here, the public is targeted. They are not obliged to have problems to go see the show. Therefore, it is easier to come see the performance and the feedback has been really good from spectators. The show is only two hours long, but it has so much material that it is a lifetime guide [for] couples. I don’t deal with a virtual world. I deal with the daily lives of spectators and that’s what attracts people’s attention! Q: Does your show mix science with humor? A: Both. Everyone has encountered incomprehensible [behavior] from the other gender. We think too often the other gender has the same way of functioning [as] ourselves. We tend to forget they are fundamentally different. On stage, I state these differences while pinpointing daily situations we’ve all been through. We laugh a lot in general, [at] ourselves, [at] everything. But most important of all, we have the keys in hand in order to understand the other gender and mock certain situations that – until now – may have been [the source] of arguments. Q: How did you go about adapting Gray’s work for the stage? A: The show is based on Gray’s text, but I added many anecdotes from my private life, from my [personal relationships]. The stage’s decor evokes the two different planets, Mars and Venus. As for me, I’m playing the role of a teacher. There will be a [projection] screen [in] the background, just like there would be in classroom. Q: Have you found different audiences to interpret your show differently? A: Aside from the small cultural differences, men and women are different in the same way everywhere in the world. It is psychological and structural. I have noticed the same appreciation wherever we went on tour. And the media [same media critique] as well. Q: This will be your first trip to Lebanon. What do you expect from your performances here? A: I’m preparing myself to meet the Lebanese. Lebanon is a multicultural country and I would like to take [my] time discovering it and exchange [thoughts] with the Lebanese people. Q: Do you feel the show will leave the audience something to think about? A: Yes, of course. Each couple will feel involved by this and everywhere it is the same problem: [The] woman gives the man what she needs – thinking she’s doing the right thing – and vice versa. But actually men’s and women’s needs are completely different. The same thing will not suit the one and the other. For example, women need to hear the words “I love you” often. Men may wonder why, since they already said it five years ago and they are still in the relationship! It’s only different ways of functioning! Paul Dewandre’s “Les Hommes viennent de Mars, Les Femmes de Venus” will be performed at Dbayeh’s Palais des Congres on Friday and Saturday, May 4-5. Tickets are on sale at Virgin Megastore.

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