Friday, June 15, 2012

Voyage - at Story Vault - with Louis Gourmeau


I will be presenting a work-in-progress that I'm calling Voyage at Story Vault - The Great Grandfather Club - tomorrow night, Saturday, June 16th in San Francisco.

Voyage shows how older and younger generations connect through the retelling of stories. World travelers perceive the world in a way that you can only get when you leave it all behind to plant your feet down in a foreign land. This is an experience that the narrator of this project and I share.

Louis Gourmeau is an octogenarian from Brittany, France. He is a World War II veteran, our dear family friend, and a natural storyteller.

I first met Louis when I was an exchange student living in France in the 1990s. My great-aunt and cousins encouraged me to meet him, and when I did, I knew they were not mistaken.

Louis loved telling his stories about how he met my great-uncle during World War II, and how he then found his way to New York where he met the love of his life at the Air France counter on Fifth Avenue.

It wasn’t until recently that I thought about documenting Louis’ storytelling. Regretfully, I planned my trip to France too late, as his wonderful wife, Jeanine passed away in October 2011. So I knew that I had to quickly travel to France to capture his oral histories.

In January 2012, I spent over a week in Louis’ country home in Provence filming his stories of World War II, New York in the 1940s, Fifth Avenue, love-at-first-sight, and anecdotes of my very large and eccentric Irish-American family. Feeling devastated and alone by the loss of his wife, Louis came alive again by reliving his happiest moments.

Listening to his stories, I realized how our lives are similar, how I met close friends and created memories when I lived abroad. I remembered that we are all on a similar journey. By listening to Louis’ life, I understood that one day I, too, will be looking back on life, trying to reconnect with its meaning, just like him.

Here's a clip:

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