BWW Interview: Amanda Mehtala of THEATRE IN PARIS
When you come to Paris as an Anglophone, you're going to wonder how much you'll be able to access. Even if you do speak French, are there places you can go to speak your native language? How do you know what movies are dubbed and which aren't (hint: you want to see the screenings of movies that say VOSTF!)? And most of all: can you see theatre in English anywhere in the city?
In comes Theatre in Paris, your guide to English accessible theatre in the French capital!
I recently got to chat with Amanda Mehtala, one of the Theatre in Paris team on the marketing and communications front. I had heard of this organization many times since I moved to Paris and was curious to discover what they were about. Over a midday coffee (pop for me), Amanda taught me everything I needed to know! Here is our discussion:
BroadwayWorld: What is Theatre in Paris?
Amanda Mehtala: Theatre in Paris started four years ago. It was [started by] three French co-founders; one of them had an Australian roommate and he wanted to take him to a show because he loved theatre, but he realized there were no options for this roommate that spoke no French. So he said "well, I've been to operas in other European cities that have been subtitled, why has that not been applied to theatre?" so he decided to make [English subtitles for theatre] here in the capital of tourism, where there are the most international people, within Europe at least. From that point, we've partnered with theatres all over the city to make their shows accessible to all the international individuals that are in Paris.
BW: Do you provide the subtitling service, or do you connect them to others for that?
AM: Both. So we'll partner with a production and/or the theatre itself, and then we will do all the translations, the subtitles- it's kind of done in a few steps. So first, it's not just pure translation, because you have to imagine there's a lot of text that needs to be condensed into digestible snippets so that it digests well and it readable. So we take charge of that process, and then we install the projection equipment, and most of the time the subtitles will be projected on a screen above the stage. So we'll help the theatres with installing the equipment and managing all that, and then we also have someone from our team who will be on site for each subtitled performance.
BW: How often do you tend to have an event on?
AM: All week long, we have at least ten shows playing at any given time. Except usually Mondays are relatively quiet in Paris, there's no shows.
BW: How many people are on the Theatre in Paris team?
AM: In Paris we have about ten, and we are also partnered with a company in Berlin called Panthea who handle all the surtitling equipment, so there's a few in Berlin as well.
BW: Interesting! So it's not just in Paris, it's international as well.
AM: Yeah, so they kinda handle special projects and they'll handle the surtitling and all of the equipment, and then we are more of the distribution platform. So we have our own ticketing platform, and we're the ones bringing that experience and that service to tourists.
BW: So what can an audience member expect when they book through you?
AM: The two things audience members can be ensured of when booking through Theatre in Paris is variety and accessibility. All of our shows are guaranteed to be accessible even for a non-francophone (performances subtitled in English, shows with no dialogue, and shows entirely in English), we serve as a one-stop-shop for Parisian theatre for English speakers. The second guarantee is variety, whether audiences prefer musicals, French classics, modern comedies, one-man-shows, or more, we ensure that we always have a variety of shows and different venue styles and sizes to please all audiences. We have welcomed over 60 nationalities to experience French theatre alongside the locals, and counting!