Coulommiers. Reading aloud (and it’s more effective than a yoga session)

Focused on language, breathing, rhythm, the “Private voice, public voice” workshop is complete. ©DR

Outside, the day is fading. Through the bay windows of the reading room, an autumnal rain pours its poetic melancholy on the Briard plain. The wind beats against the windows. A landscape that contrasts with the warm cocoon that has naturally settled in the room enveloped in subdued light.

The bells of the nearby church ring at 7 p.m. and break the cottony silence that winds between the alleys of this former prison transformed into a municipal library and which, at this hour, has the effect of a very cozy quilt.

We discover our inner voices

Christine, a participant

Here, near the rows of books listed in alphabetical order, every other Thursday, you escape by reading in a very “circle of dead poets” atmosphere. The “private voice, public voice” workshop, led by Amélie Blottière, director of the theater company Les Affinités, brings together lovers of literature. Finally, lovers rather.

This Thursday, October 13, it’s a 100% feminine session. They are specialized educators, social workers or jewelry engravers.

The importance of the body

They come from La Ferté-Gaucher, Coulommiers or Saint-Germain-sur-Morin. And this shop is their pressure relief valve.

“It’s nice to read and discover authors, to bring texts to life,” remarks Christine, the dean of the workshop. We discover our inner voices. »

With damp hair, Valérie arrives late, a thermos of herbal tea to share. Conviviality is part of the usage here. Around fruit juices, chocolate and biscuits, Amélie, Sylvie, Murielle, Véronique, Christine, Sarah and Valérie get excited. Strict familiarity. I feel welcome. I understand that one can become addicted to this collective joy. And yet, something of the order of intimacy also resounds.

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“Inwardly, this workshop teaches me a lot of things”, points out Valérie, saved in extremis from burn-out thanks to the effervescence of the group. We appreciate each other and more than that. As its name suggests, at the Théâtre des Affinités, there is a real affinity between the people around this table. »

An affinity between the participants and a passion for books, of course. The session begins with an unusual warm-up. Balance exercises. Massage of the head, facial muscles, eye contour, temples. “Under the lips too, it’s important to relax in order to articulate well. Open your shoulders well and don’t forget to breathe”, recommends Amélie.


“A, e, i, o, u, a, e, i, o, u”: in one voice and in an exaggerated movement of the mouth, we heat the zygomatics in a joyful delirium before starting a dance – let off steam on “What a life”, by Scarlet Pleasure, the music from the film Drunk. “The workshop is a stress reliever, we have a good laugh, we don’t take ourselves too seriously”, comments Sylvie. But what is the relationship between reading and dancing? “Dancing is energy, cheerfulness, explains Amélie. It is a way of linking the body in reading. The text is a base but this workshop is not limited to the text. There is a staging around the reading. We get closer to the author thanks to a setting in voice, a setting in body and in space. Sometimes we sing too. »

Fortunately for me – and for them especially – there will be no singing tonight. It’s time to move on to reading on the theme of the day: fear. The text chosen by Amélie? ” Blackwater, volume 1, The Flood”, by Michael McDowell, in which the author returns to his childhood fears.

The substance and the form

Prologue. In a round table, each one appropriates a sentence. Valérie, the mimeographed sheets in her hands, standing on the table, in the manner of Robin Williams, begins. “At dawn on Easter Sunday 1919, the sky above Perdido was clear and pale pink, but it was not reflected in the muddy waters that had drowned the city for a week,” she reads in a voice. clear and fluid, dynamic but nevertheless takes its time. Her neighbor continues: “Immense and orange-red, the sun shaved the pine forest…”

“Immeeeeense”, resumes Amélie, you have to live and make the sentence live. “Look at us to say that”. My attention gradually detaches itself from the form to focus on the content. It is true that this text is beautiful. Suddenly, I realize that they seem far away to me the crises and other dramas that shake the world at the very moment when I am about to read.

Would reading aloud be more effective than a meditation session? No time to complete my thoughts. Quickly comes my turn. I start, with all possible respect for the words so well chosen by Michael McDowell.

A demanding discipline

In just a few lines, I am immersed in this American hamlet, I almost brush the river with my fingers. “Only memory could have attested to the existence of the Perdido and Blackwater rivers…” Not so simple after all. Focused on the quality of my articulation, I read straight through. Too fast. “Take the time to describe it to us. Tell us, what is important in reading aloud is the address,” Amélie teaches me. Clearly, you have to embody the text, without interpreting it.

The border between reading and theater seems thin to me. “Add an intention, it will give a rhythm. When you read a book at home, it’s a conversation with yourself. There, it makes sense, there is something that spreads. »

Christine continues. “Now, the city was decomposing under a vast expanse of black and stinking water”: the voice is macabre and deep, like the words. General hilarity. Christine succeeded in her effect. I realize that the twenty annual sessions are not too many to become familiar with the techniques of a more rigorous discipline than it seems. Focused on language, breathing, rhythm, the “Private voice, public voice” workshop is complete. I leave the session both nourished and light, at peace with existence. In my diary, I write on tomorrow’s page: “Order ‘Blackwater’ at the bookstore”.

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Coulommiers. Reading aloud (and it’s more effective than a yoga session)

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