“The spelling in French books is ridiculous for the most part. Convention alone allows this incongruity to persist.” — Voltaire (Dictionnaire philosophique, 1771)
This quote sparked the curiosity of two Belgian ex-teachers, Arnaud Hoedt and Jérôme Piron, and ignited a quest to simplify the French language–particularly the way it is written. Together they investigate the linguistic roots of French as well as its absurdities, from the monks who made mistakes in their dimly lit cloisters, to Molière’s phonetic but poor spelling, to the aesthetic complications of the august Académie Française.
Acclaimed in Paris as both enlightening and humorous, La Convivialité gently mocks grammarian dogma and forgives our French misspellings.
Performance will be followed by a Q&A with Arnaud Hoedt and Jérôme Piron.
The event will be broadcast live on Zoom and Facebook. Audience members can use Zoom’s interactive features to share real-time feedback and ask questions.
40 minutes including Q&A
Recommended for ages 15 & up
About Arnaud Hoedt & Jérôme Piron
For the first 25 years of their lives, Arnaud Hoedt and Jérôme Piron, both trained linguists, didn’t know each other. But their lives improved dramatically when they met as teachers in Belgium and taught at the same school for 15 years. In 2016, they wrote and directed the show La Convivialité at the Théâtre National de Bruxelles. This performance, dealing with the dogmatic approach to spelling in French, has been a hit throughout the French-speaking world, with more than 400 performances over the past four years. In 2017, they adapted the show into an illustrated textbook with cartoonist Kevin Matagne, published by Textuel edition.
Their simplified approach to spelling has inspired a 2018 opinion column in French newspaper Libération, promoting a reform of participatory agreements with the avoir auxiliary, which had international reverberations. In 2019, they created a French-language program for radio station France Inter, called “Tu parles!” Currently, Hoedt helps create the French-language curriculum for the General Secretariat of Catholic Education and provides instruction in documentary research for CECAFOC. Piron specializes in cultural management.
Conception and writing: Arnaud Hoedt and Jérôme Piron
Performance: Arnaud Hoedt and Jérôme Piron
Technical direction and management: Charlotte Plissart
Co-staging: Dominique Bréda, Arnaud Pirault and Clément Thirion
Video creation: Kévin Matagne
Technical consultant: Nicolas Callandt
Artistic consultant : Antoine Defoort
Assistant director : Anaïs Moray
Development and distribution : Habemus Papam, Cora-Line Lefèvre and Julien Sigard
A creation of the company Chantal & Bernadette
In co-production with Théâtre National/Bruxelles and L’Ancre/Charleroi and Hypothalamus renforcé.
With the support of Théâtre La Cité/Marseille, La Bellone/Bruxelles, Company La Zouze/Marseille, and Service de la Langue française de la Fédération Wallonie – Bruxelles and Centre culturel de Braine L’Alleud.
With the support of Ministère de la Fédération Wallonie – Bruxelles (Performing Art Department)