Luxembourg Kirchberg
© Pancake! Photographie

Open and Diverse The story collector

5 minutes

The city, her stage

For theatre director Anne Simon, all the world is a stage. Whether she is inside or outside, everyone is an actor and everyday objects become props. The ideas for her productions come to her in flashes of inspiration, an  inspiration which she feeds on her many walks through Luxembourg City.

We meet Anne Simon on the terrace of café-bar Interview for an interview. We want to meet her and (re)see the city with her. The café has set out bistro tables and on one of the chairs sits the artist, leaning forwards, a cigarette smouldering between her fingers. Her slender legs are crossed and she fixes her gaze on something in the distance. The posture reminds me of a hawk about to strike, seizing the object of desire in a few seconds. She is lost in her thoughts. But on what? She is definitely not looking for food, as the bird of prey would be. And she doesn’t need it. A cappuccino steams on the table in front of her, with a biscuit. No, she’s tracking down something else. She is searching for situations, people, actions, art and everyday things that interest and inspire her. She absorbs and she exhales ideas.

Enigmatic paths

It’s fun to listen to Anne Simon talk. And to see how engaged she is in her storytelling: shining eyes, her hands dance. Her clothing style is a typical theatre combination of striped trouser suit coupled with a modish purple-pink three-striped  jogging jacket. 50s style sunglasses rest on her blonde hair. Fashion consciousness paired with understatement. A pink notebook lies on the table in front of her. It’s probably always with her. Ideas must be caught and pinned down.

“Stickers!” She almost shouts with pleasure, “Stickers, stuck on lampposts and on distribution boxes. Awesome. I could track them down for hours. Who put that one there? And why? What kind of person was it? I think of the kind of person who places stickers on lampposts. What’s the story? Then I go on a search. The next sticker with the same design is often not far away. And so a stranger leads me on a mysterious path through the city.”

On her scavenger hunts through the city, Anne keeps her eyes open. What strikes her is that public space offers so much yet is used so little, especially in the city. People live in boxes, sit in one box to get to another box to work. Then they go back into the small box to return to the first box. They then sit – admittedly – in the garden, free of strangers. That’s not Anne’s thing. She has to get out into the city, into the parks and playgrounds where those who don’t have gardens meet and where you hear many languages being spoken. What a Babylonian babble of voices. People live, laugh and love here. They barbecue, argue, reconcile. Anne Simon, the story collector, is among them. She likes to come here with her young son. And, from time to time, when he comes, he likes to dress in a tutu. People are happy about that. He can just be here, dancing among the trees, before going back to being a digger operator again.

Luxembourg Parc Municipal Anne Simon
© Pancake! Photographie

“We don’t stop playing because we grow old – we grow old because we stop playing.” George Bernard Shaw’s saying is the motto on Anne’s website. She likes people who dare to do something, who experiment and approach things in a playful way. Like the three guys from the Satori brewery, for example. Davide, Joseph and Mathias have just founded a small brewery and are already taking the next step: they have been awarded a contract by the City of Luxembourg and are now allowed to run a pop-up bar in the former Charly’s Gare bus stop for a few months. The young men, architecture and economics students, are kept on their toes, heaving gas bottles out of their transport vehicle – an original Piaggio Ape – and carrying them into the kiosk-like glass bar. In addition to the in-house beer, local wines are available here. The menu is inspired by the bar culture of Barcelona or Paris.

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Theatrical air

“Let’s go to the theatre!” Not to a performance. No, onto the stage, into a working situation. We enter the small Théâtre des Capucins. Technicians are setting up and programming the lighting for a new production. Sacred silence. A stage is something special. Sounds of the city do not penetrate this space. No daylight. It is exceptionally quiet. Pleasant. Outside again, we are overwhelmed by the loudness of the city. Flagpoles stand in front of the theatre. Children hoot gleefully and climb the iron poles. They don’t pay attention to how many stickers are stuck on them.

In the evening we meet Anne Simon again for an appointment on the Corniche, a path that runs along the high ramparts above the Alzette valley. It is considered “the most beautiful balcony in Europe”. In the darkness, the valley at the bottom seems further away than usual. The old craftsmen’s houses with their illuminated windows look like a toy village. In the distance, the skyscrapers in Kirchberg glow.
The beer garden of De Gudde Weather (the good weather) offers a captivating view of the city lights and mixed crowd. Bankers and musicians meet. People in suits sit beside artists. Tables and chairs are also a wild mix, as if to suggest: “All are welcome. We have seating for everyone.”

After trying cocktails (they are good), we wander around the city centre, letting ourselves drift and following the signs. Anne Simon’s dog trots faithfully by her side. Sometimes he decides which way we go. We end up in an alleyway lit by lanterns. “It reminds me of the Lampion Night in Wiltz,” the director enthuses, “it’s a magical festival. The whole town is decorated with large but delicate works of paper art that are lit up at night and transform the town.”

Luxembourg Theatre des Capucins
© Pancake! Photographie
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Islands in the city

Urban outdoors: being outside in the city. Wandering through cities. But always seeking out islands to find peace and quiet. A hill in the Kirchberg business district. The sculpture by Bert Theis in the Edith Klein inner-city park, a kind of hunter’s hide which invites you to climb up. The castle at her favourite playground near her home in Belair. As we wander, we are treated to an unexpected view of the Old Fortress. All islands in the city.

The balmy summer night air carries voices from the distance, scattered laughter and murmurs. Something is happening that we know nothing about. The murmuring grows louder and, as we turn a corner, we are greeted with Charlie Chaplin’s face on the open-air cinema screen directly in front of the Grand Ducal Palace. A summer night in the capital. We set off without a destination or a plan, and yet we have arrived.

Luxembourg St Esprit Anne Simon
© Pancake! Photographie
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