An Interview With Bastille Day President & Producer Pascale Fortunat

Pascale Fortunat is the President and Producer for this years Bastille Day Celebration which will be held at Kenneth Hahn Recreational Park — Lower Olympic 4100 La Cienega Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90056 on Sunday, July 15th from noon til dusk.

Pascale works for Passion Productions. Here is a link to the website:

Q:  Why should Americans celebrate Bastille Day?

A: Bastille Day is obviously first and foremost a French celebration since it commemorates the storming of the Bastille prison in 1789 and marks the beginning of the French revolution and the birth of a new French nation. However, I believe that citizens of both French and American culturesshare the same ideals of democracy ushered in by the French revolutionary spirit of 1789, the ideals of Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité. Plus our countries have had a very entwined history so why not celebrate our culture, traditions and differences all together.

Q: What is the biggest misconception Americans have about France?

A: Americans think French people are not able or willing to speak English with them. It might have been true years ago, but the new generation embraces American culture: music, movies, books, art, etc. They ‘breathe’ American!

French students learn English during their schooling for years and are willing to communicate in English. So don’t fear if you only speak English, it is possible to have interaction with French people when you are traveling to France!

Q:  What are some of the activities my readers and look forward to at this years Bastille Day Celebration?

A: This year, the French Cabaret Versatile — recipient of the Best Cabaret and Variety Show of the Hollywood Fringe Festival 2012 — has prepared an eight-hour show on the theme ‘French Bohême & Troubadours’to premiere at the Bastille Day Los Angeles Festival. So you and your readers should get ready for a day of Cancan, feathers and glitz “à la mode de Paris!” Choreographer Lola Ohlala has gathered a medley of performers such as Jenny Eloise Rieu a French cabaret singer who will take attendees on a trip to a different time; Momo Casablanca, a former Cirque Du Soleil clown, taught by the legendary Marcel Marceau;Yesteryears Dancers, an authentically-costumed vintage dance troupe who will re-create court and ballroom dances from the time of Marie Antoinette, Napoleon I, and La Belle Époque. Yesteryears dancers will perform with Les Plaisirs Champêtre, a group playing French historical instruments. We also have on stage J.R. Black, our French Johnny Cash, and many other talented performers.

Q:  I’m a vegetarian; will there be anything there I can eat?

A: Absolutely, you will be able to eat several vegetarian dishes, barbecued vegetables, crepes, waffles, quiches, artisan breads and cheese, and the best French fries in town!

Q: What do you think has caused so much anti French sentiment in the United States?

A: I think our governments are not always in sink and this situation often creates frictions or misunderstandings. These differences are discussed in the media, sometimes magnified, sometimes distorted so it builds up general public resentment. What happened during the Iraq invasion is a good example of that. The fact that we are going through a terrible economic crisis doesn’t help. It increases discords.

You also have to consider that for a very long time France had a very prominent, even supreme social and political role in the world. Before WWII, French was the diplomatic language. After WWII, the United States assumed that supremacy and English became the diplomatic language. However, the struggle for supremacy remained and I believe created anti-French sentiments in the United States and anti-American sentiments in France.

I am both French and American, and I tend to be an optimist. I’d rather concentrate on our shared ideals than on resentments.

Q:  Who do you think would be a modern day Louis XVI( and why)?

A: I guess you will find many similarities in the revolution taking place in Syria right now and the one that took place in France in 1789. Therefore, I am going to answer Bashar Al-Assad. Just like Louis XVI, Bashar Al-Assad is not listening to the citizens of his country who are fighting to get equal rights and better working conditions. Just like Louis XVI, he doesn’t seem to care that thousands of people are getting killed, and him and his wife go on living a frivolous life.

Q:  Who would be an American version of ‪Voltaire?

A: I would say U.S. President Thomas Jefferson for he was like Voltaire a strong advocate for the separation of church and state. They both thought it was the only way to guarantee political freedom in their respective countries. Just like Voltaire, Thomas Jefferson fought to guarantee citizens rights to religious and political freedom, and liberty.

Q: Do you think the Reign of Terror could ever happen again?

A: If you mean could it ever happen again anywhere in the world, I will again refer to Syria and other Arabic countries. The same reign of terror is unfolding right now right before our eyes!

Q: If you could meet one famous person involved in the French Revolution who would it be and what one question would you ask them?

It would be Jean-Jacques Rousseau because his writings have sparked the French revolution and ‘Le Contrat Social’ inspired sections of the ‘Déclaration des Droits de l’Homme’. I would like to meet him now in 2012, 223 years later, and ask him to look back at the past 223 years and give us his take on the respect of fundamental freedoms emphasized in the ‘Declaration of the Rights of Man.’

Q:  If you could free any prisoner in the world, who would it be?

A: A few months ago, I would have answered Aung San Suu Kyi, but she has already been freed! I admire her for many reasons, but mainly because for all these years of repression, she never gave up!

Please note; Eliza’s interviews are done by email. All answers are unedited and come right from the lovely fingertips of her subjects:)



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