Leonard Pitt: A Voyage Into The Heart of Paris

”This American friend knows Paris like the back of his hand—the history that runs beneath today’s buildings."-Le Nouvel Observateur Walking through Paris while carrying a copy of Leonard Pitt’s Promenade dans le Paris Disparu (Edition Parigramme, Paris 2002) is like bringing along a treasure chest filled with photos, maps, and engravings. He has done his research well and his profound knowledge of Paris is astounding. Like a brilliant painter, Pitt builds the modern city from layers of images of old Paris to create a masterpiece for the observant reader to discover. His passion for understanding and researching Paris has earned him the respect of the French people who consider him a true ”American friend.” Born in Detroit, Michigan in 1941, Pitt, who is well-known for his critically acclaimed one-man shows, performances and teaching in theatres in the US and Europe, is affectionately referred to by the French as ”Leonard Pitt Parisian.” Pitt first came to Paris aboard the Queen Elizabeth in 1963 after leaving a career in advertising to study mime with Etienne Decroux (whose name is forever linked to the film The Children of Paradise). He soon became Decroux’s assistant—an experience that lasted for four years. Pitt, a self-confessed workaholic, spent his time perfecting his performance skills while developing a passion for the history of Paris. He remained in Paris until 1970. After returning to the US, Pitt spent the next 18 years as a respected director in a school of physical theatre. In 1989 he co-founded Life On The Water, a contemporary theatre in San Francisco that showcased such talent as the late monologist Spalding Gray (author and star of Swimming to Cambodia, 1987). Adding to an already impressive resume, in 1991 Pitt created Eco-Rap, an environmental education program using rap music to stimulate interest in ecological issues for urban and minority youth (Eco-Rap, Voices from the Hood, 1993, VHS The Video Project) Today Leonard Pitt resides in Berkeley with his family but spends several weeks, three times a year in Paris. He is currently working on two writing projects: a biography of the 17th-century Anglo-Irish healer Valentine Greatrakes, and a memoir of his years living in Paris tentatively entitled A Paris Museum of Dreams. Promenade dans le Paris Disparu (text in French) is available in Paris bookstores, and from http://www.amazon.fr and www.fnac.com BP Senior Editor, Christiann Anderson, is the creator and co-author of Paris Reflections: Walks Through African American Paris (McDonald & Woodward, 2002). She is the author of The Single Woman’s Guide to Paris, and Ribjoint: A Novel.
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