I don't often go to "old days" reunion events as most of the time it's fairly obvious that the cool people won't come either. Besides, there isn't a strong tradition of holding such events in France, at least not compared to other countries.
However, this one was special, special enough that I'd want to jump on a train saturday morning to go to Grenoble, and jump back on (again in the morning, way too hard) another train to Paris today.
Ten years ago, I joined a theatre group in Grenoble the first year it was created and went on with it for three years of intense adventure, which only stopped because I left Grenoble.
It being a group staging english plays in a french provincial city, it only did one production a year and this was the reunion party following the tenth production (which I unfortunately had to miss).
Unfortunately, the group was made entirely of people having a strong tendency to travel and take chances abroad, so that today there is not a single crew member (that I know of) that still resides in Grenoble today. Only a few even reside in France, and most are known to be "somewhere in the world" but given their high volatility, no one really knows exactly where. I can't really blame them, most of the people I saw that night thought that I was in the US, in Belgium, or in Australia but only few of them knew that I'd returned to Paris for the third time in seven years, even though I've been back since July 2000. Due to this hankering for global locations, not quite as many "old ones" as I'd have liked to see again were around.
But still, it was great to see all the ones that I saw. We could freely go on about all those incredible memories we have from the productions we went through (Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest, Wilder's Our Town, and Stoppard's excellent The Real Inspector Hound in my case), and wonder if it would be wise for us to still hit on the younger crew members now that we're officially considered to be the "Old Ones That Were There When It All Started" (ed.: I met my girlfriend after seeing her on stage at a production three years ago).
One of the reasons why such a meeting carried a strong emotional charge is because a theatre production is always a full blown soap opera in its own right (hence the number of plays and films about backstage stories). You start out with a 3-4 people you like, 5-6 you don't know, and over a dozen you hate. After several months of hard work, failed attempts at just any part of the play, major fights, high stress from those that have stage fright, more high stress for people that don't understand that working with the script at hand and learning your lines the last week is actually a good approach (well, at least it's mine
Then you have the actual acting in front of an audience bit for the duration of the production (in our case circa one week), which always goes incredibly well compared to what things looked like right before (especially during the dress rehearsal, which is always a major failure), the adrenalin-induced euphory, the depression/crash that follows when you come down from that amount of adrenalin as you leave the stage (yes, that's why the stage is addictive to many).
And then all of a sudden that little world that had emerged has no purpose and disappears. Pretty much everyone feels loss at seeing a group so tightly knit together vanish so suddenly but there's no stopping it. You slowly start disliking anew the people you previously disliked, even though memory prevents you from being too virulent about it. Reality takes over very quickly, and it feels cold.
So any occasion to revive a few of those old memories is a happy event. I'm glad I went, I hope I'll be able to go back next year.
I also wish I could do some theatre again. Perhaps this year if workload lowers as hoped. And if I can find (or create) an english speaking theatre group.