An apartment block, like so many others in the neighbourhoods of France and Europe’s cities and towns. Like so many others in Marseille, in the difficult neighbourhoods in the North of the city, where Lieux publics has its home.
Balconies, stairs, satellite dishes, laundry hanging from the windows, children’s bicycles are private spaces in plain view. Noises, sounds, and music can be heard from the windows. A child cries, a television hums, a dog barks, lovers quarrel, a saucepan falls to the floor, a toilet flushes, a rubbish chute trickles… They are all sound signals for people passing by the building from residents living so close yet far away from their neighbours. This is a sound puzzle treasured by Georges Perec and his Life a User’s Manual, or straight out of the film Delicatessen.
Up on the balconies of the building, forty, fifty or eighty classical musicians take their places. It is a full symphonic orchestra with all the distinctive signs – tuxedo tails and long gowns -, the easily recognised sounds, the emblematic instruments - the harp, and kettledrums.
In front of the building, an audience of 500 to 2000 people sits or stands as if in the stalls of an opera theatre.
The stage is set, the two main characters are present, the apartment block with its residents and rumblings, and the orchestra with its history and incongruity. The warm-up is over, the show may begin.