Madame Barbara is the Director of une Ecole des Arts Dramatiques, but her school is in serious trouble. She needs vingt mille Euro (€20,000) to keep going and she has applied to the government for a grant.
When our play opens the three teachers who make up the staff in the school are rehearsing a scene from a new play but they are interrupted by a messenger with a letter from the Department announcing that the Minister himself (le ministre) will visit the school next Friday (vendredi prochain). To qualify for a grant they must meet certain conditions. First they must put on a production of a play which will demonstrate all the skills taught in the school - acting, singing, dancing, etc. and they must also prove that the school has at least six teachers – six professeurs. Well, they are all in a fluster. How can they make six teachers out of three? They decide to concentrate first on rehearsing the play they will present, which is ……….
Fifi looks very sad (triste). Why is she sad asks the old lady? She is not sad she says, she is angry, (elle est fachée) because every day at this time she meets her boyfriend Pierre, (son petit ami, Pierre), but today he has not turned up. She has been waiting for over an hour. They ask for help with finding Pierre and they discover that about an hour ago Pierre was seen walking towards the bridge. What bridge? Why, the bridge of Avignon, (le pont d’Avignon). But where is this bridge? It’s impossible to see because it’s a magic bridge explains a magician, but if you try really hard you will find it and then you will be able to cross over and sing its special song and dance its special dance.
After Fifi has crossed the bridge she must ask for more directions, and she discovers that Pierre was heading off to see le Frère Jacques. But where on earth does Frère Jacques live? She gets some help from an agent de police, who knows that Frère Jacques lives five kilometres from here (à cinq kilomètres d’ici) and he agrees to accompany her on the journey. To shorten the path they sing some songs.
Next she meets a strange man with a dog. But the dog (like the bridge) is invisible! Then she meets a doctor (un médecin) who is looking for a missing patient, and he is able to direct her to Frère Jacques’ house. Frère Jacques thinks that he knows where Pierre is, but it is the wrong Pierre. In fact, they can’t find Pierre at all until la boulangère comes along and is able to sort out everything. Pierre and Fifi are back together, but Fifi is cross and begins to fight with him. “Wait,” says la boulangère “I can explain everything” – je vais tout expliquer. She is Pierre’s aunt (sa tante) and she can show what Pierre has been doing all day with the help of some marionnettes. Fifi is happy and all ends well – tout est bien qui finit bien.
That is the end of the play they are going to perform. Now how is Madame Barbara going to pretend that they have six teachers when there are only three? But they are actors after all, aren’t they? They think up a bold plan, and only just in time, because they receive a letter from le Ministre saying that he is arriving immediately. They must double their staff without delay.
Can you guess what they are going to do?