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Marseille - The City Of Art

Updated: Nov 5, 2020

By Danielle Verna Dufour

My name is Danielle Verna Dufour. I live in France, near Marseille, a beautiful cosmopolitan city where the shutters slam under the mistral, where the verb stretches, laughing, in front of the stall of fishmongers in the Old Port, where the call of seagulls resounded, where life gradually resumes its course, forgetting about fears and confinement.

I live in France, but I am a citizen of the world. Every country where we suffer, where war wounds and kills; each country where freedom is gagged, each country where the knee of one man crushes the chest of another, each country where the woman is flouted, each country where a child is hungry, where it is cold, each country is mine. I recognize myself in the boat of these refugees lost at sea, in the frightened eyes of this tenant man, son of a dead child, in the desperation of the emigrant, in that of the homeless. I also recognize myself in the strength of Rosa Parks, in the words of Mandela, in the dream of Martin Luther King, in the raised fist of Tommie Smith and in the folded arms of August Landmesser, this June 13, 1936, in the Adolf Hitler's Germany. I cry in front of a little body, thrown back by the sea, abandoned on a beach. I cry before the devastated Amazon, the people sacrificed. I am afraid at the sight of stray bees, panicked birds, yellowed grass. Yet our planet is so beautiful. In front of this race for money, in front of this galloping liberal economy, throwing thousands on the street, forcing thousands of others to beg, a bitter fear invades me.

Nature challenges us. With this virus, the Covid 19, which came from who knows where - but it does not matter - we must take stock of our mistakes. What have we done to the earth? What have we done to our children? However, the leaves of the olive trees, sometimes green, sometimes golden, shine in the sun; the song of birds, even tenuous, is still there. Solidarity has been activated everywhere. A fraternity is emerging, stammering internationally, but real. Doctors from Cuba and elsewhere have joined the hospital teams. At the windows, on the balconies, the songs, the applause crossed borders. At home, the school and the libraries reopened their doors. The theaters, seriously affected by the crisis, present their next season with even more enthusiasm, more inventiveness because what would the world be without culture? Is there still time?

I am a journalist, one of the most beautiful jobs in the in the world, out of a desire to understand and to make people understand, out of a desire to share, out of a desire to learn. But I’m also a writer, a budding writer I must say, because my first book is still in the works, even though it has exceeded more than a quarter century. It's crazy how you can stay young in your head! I hardly start to think that it is time to speed up the writing. Correction, it will be the second. The first appeared in a magazine that we printed in high school. I was 15!

I cover everything that, directly or indirectly, touches culture: opera, theater, poetry, writing, painting, music, dance, song, cinema, festivals, with frequent forays into the promising world of youth. The defense of this culture leads me to claim areas: hunger strike by a theater director forced to close, demonstrations etc. Deontologically, my articles are the exact reflection of the situations, the interviews. Critics of the plays or whatever, it is true, are personal. Since I freelance, my goal is to write only to read positive, sometimes with a few caveats, I admit. I do not want to harm the artist, whose precarious intermittent condition is already very painful, or the work. Others, perhaps more experienced, do it better than I do. I warn the artists from the start and if I don't have the time to like it, I don't write! Who am I to demolish someone? Maybe I missed the subject completely? Perhaps this evening, the actor was sick? ... Lévon Minassian, an immense international musician and friend, with the magic doudouk - this Armenian instrument which is with his lips the music of the angels - had to play one evening of the year spent in front of a packed house when he had just learned of his mother's death before entering the scene. He was sublime. But how many would be able to?

Marseille is a colorful city where Italian emigration has been very important. Many Marseillais have their relatives, more or less distant, who came from the peninsula.

For several years, I kept on the newspaper La Marseillaise, a very important daily newspaper, a weekly Italian column of 7200 signs, on the most diverse subjects, writing as well on ancient painters, music, bel canto, Italian resistance, women in the time of the Roman Empire, the Strait of Messina, Spartacus, the first Punic Wars, the white truffles of Alba, Falcone, Naples, Lucio Dala or the Republic of Venice, Casanova, Federico Fellini, cooking and traditional celebrations.... I write now for the Italian chronicles on a very beautiful magazine: Projecteur TV. There is a particular and exceptional theater in Marseille, the Toursky Theater, whose director and eminent actor, Richard Martin, did not make less than three hunger strikes to ensure the sustainability of this great theater. A theater, a meeting place, of fraternity. With two halls with respective gauges of 800 and 200 seats, the shows presented are of excellence. With, for more than 25 years, a Russian festival which receives the theaters of Bolshoi, Marinsky, etc. the Toursky theater is known internationally. A theater, a meeting place, of fraternity, where one can enter at will, read in the shade of the big tree on the huge terrace, without anyone paying attention. In the evening, after the show, the actors meet, in the middle of the audience, in the restaurant room and the owner of the place raises his glass for them: "From now on, this house is yours!" You will understand without difficulty that "this house" has become the home base of all those who, like me, fight for culture to be given to all. So I frequently walk the ground and the actors, famous or future, become friends.

I come from a working class background. In 1926, my grandmother Giuseppina joined her husband Giuseppe Monaco here, who had fled the Mussolinian regime and fascism to take refuge in France. She was still with my mother Concetta, two years old. My father, Louis Dufour, was born in Marseille. My life, like that of all of us, is intertwined with the lives of those who have gone before us. So I’m not going to skip their story, albeit a quick summary. We are in 1943. Georgette is 18 years old and her fiancé, Louis Dufour, comes to her house for the first time. In the middle of the war, with the curfew, Louis was invited to sleep on the spot. At 5 a.m., the entire district of the Old Port was surrounded by the SS and the French police. Louis is resistant. He risks his life, but it is impossible to escape. Residents are asked to take to continue reading get our July Magazine Digital or print issue

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