In Tournai, Carnival begins with The Night of Intrigues, a performance circuit whose site and content are kept secret until the last moment. The audience comes to a pre-arranged meeting point in their costumes, and then the action unfolds. In 2001, the theme was the French language and I chose the historic heart of the city as my stage.
First, the public was invited to leave a lie in one of the big luminous apples at the Boniment (Blarney) Tree; the “Bonimenteur” then read out and discussed the fallacious words which subsequently became public lies.
In the rue des Balcons à Roucoulades, ladders made of light were against the windows at the top of which Romeo and Juliet make their overtures to the public who were then obliged to give them a reply. In case they lacked inspiration, they could use the "love potion" that they were given in the form of love letters.
In the Rue des Baratineurs, Chinese shadow figures challenged each other in verbal duels using the same text translated into different languages. The inquisitive public could peer at the hidden texts that marked out the path of riddles and puzzles, go inside the Booth of Blabla, take a seat in the Gossip Room, and speak at the Kiosk of Fine Talkers. They could even participate in spite of themselves because the Thief of Gossip, an agile and inconspicuous character, was slipping in and out of the audience with his microphone, amplifying conversations for everyone to hear.
On the opposite bank of the river stood the monumental Queen of the Night. Huge, crowned with a crescent moon and surrounded by fireworks, she recited from an alphabet primer before singing "Words, words”, to bring the evening to a close and make way for the carnival.