I started playing improv in my former student life in Toulouse, France, at our university improv club, Les Improbables. We used to play long form comedy or theatre sports with other local student improv clubs, had a good number of shows and our troupe even went a few times on a "tour" (to play in some rural community centers in south-west France). I loved it so much that I decided to keep practicing it, although in a "foreign" language, in New York. This is why I joined John Swist's QuickThinking! Improv , with whom I improvised for over 3 years. You can see pictures of the wonderful experiences and great friends of mine and, videos of shows that we gave at Cap 21 or at the Producer's Club (a few photos included). With a few quickthinker alumni, we started a new troupe, Cherub Improv, that tries to lighten up the lives of pensioners in nursing homes with some improv comedy.
My first theatre experience on stage was also in English, in Cambridge, playing the role of a Polish (with my French accent!) war refugee in a Cambridge hotel in 1953. Last summer, I played several supporting roles in an adaptation of Victor Hugo's "Hunchback of Notre Dame", at the Inwood Shakespeare Festival, in Inwood Park, with the Moose Hall Theatre Company. More recently, I sang in a Barbershop Quartet with the New York Musical Theatre Company.
Alessia and I got involved in 2004 in a social responsibility project in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, consisting in two week-long workshops for schoolchildren about water issues with the SEED foundation. Water pollution and scarcity are becoming a key problem (see UNESCO's website about International Year of Freshwater 2003), and there was an ecological goal to our project. Leading science experiments with kids was also a nice challenge (see our volunteer's journal and the New Straits Times article). And, finally, it was a wonderful cross-cultural experience, that we renewed this summer in Atyrau, Kazkahstan. Currently, I am also an English-French volunteer translator for the Not-for-profit website Idealist.org.
Opera (including singing)
New York has more than excellent plays and Broadway shows. Just go and check by yourself at the Metropolitan Opera or at New York City Opera! And since I love listening to operas, I took in 2006 voice classes at the Juilliard School of Music, and am now singing with the NYU Choral Arts Society.
Independent travels and backpacking
Some food for thought:
"The French Lesson in Health Care", Business Week, July 9, 2007
"A model health care system", International Herald Tribune, August 13, 2007
"France's model healthcare system", Boston Globe, August 11, 2007
Rodwin V.G., "The Health Care System Under French National Health Insurance: Lessons for Health Reform in the United States", American Journal of Public Health, vol.93, n.1, 2003