we produced a fully interactive theatre production to open the 69th FIFA Congress for the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup.
The event took place at the iconic Grand Palais on the Champs-Elysées in Paris and brought to life France’s culture, history, landscape, and cuisine with a specific focus on female icons.
This was the second year running the international governing body of football adopted an immersive approach to the Congress Opening, the first in Moscow with The Department last year. It was the first immersive theatre production to be hosted in the iconic 100-year-old Grand Palais, home to Chanel’s fashion shows.
It represented a ground-breaking step away from the previously gala-style dinners.
Guests included French President Emmanuel Macron, FIFA President Gianni Infantino, and President of the French Football Federation (FFF) Noel Le Graet. They were joined by heads of football associations across the globe and football legends including Kelly Smith, Laura Georges, Nadine Kessler, Juan Sebastian Veron, Gilberto Silva, Samuel Eto’o, Karina LeBlanc, Fabio Capello.
Interactive Theatre 'Célébration des Femmes’
Upon arrival at the Grand Palais, human statues of footballers lined the plinths as an homage to FIFA and the legendary status of football.
Guests were then immersed into France in the 1800s and greeted by ‘coach men’ who announced the arrival of key dignitaries.
Inside the atrium the production ‘Célébration des Femmes’ began with French female courtiers interacting with audiences, encouraging participation through aristocratic dress-up and regaling tales and gossip of the era.
The set design included a custom-built French Chateaux including a stunning garden with more than 200 trees and hedges, as well as native flowers and plants.
Immersive dining experiences took place in a French market and vineyard, complete with real vines.
Throughout dinner, the production moved forward in time with actors playing characters such as Brigitte Bardot, who mingled among guests, continuing her campaign for women’s rights and animal welfare (all while being chased by paparazzi!).
Coco Chanel conducted a fashion shoot and iconic singing legend Edith Piaf performed her signature song La Vie en Rose. Pioneer of women’s sport, Alice Milliat, founder of the Federation Francaise Sportive Feminine in 1919 and organiser of the first-ever international woman’s football game, roamed the crowd and was honored by guests for her contributions to the female sport.
Interactive Live Performances
The Gypsy Queens, a French pop band loved by royals and celebrities alike, got the crowd going with their performance, jumping on tables!
French female football freestyle champion and Instagram star – Lisa Zemouch – challenged guests by showcasing her ‘nutmeg’ skills, beating some of the world-class footballers in the audience.
The evening closed with a headline performance from French global superstar Jain, the official performer at the FIFA Women’s World Cup when France took on Korea on 7th June.
Our founder and Executive Creative Director Hamish Jenkinson said: “After creating the opening celebration for the world cup in Russia 2018, The Department were delighted to again create an immersive theatrical show to bring to life the culture of France and celebrate some of France’s (and indeed the world’s) most influential and iconic women.”
He added: “It was an honour to be part of the celebration of FIFA’s Women’s World Cup. We wanted to create a truly unforgettable experience, where guests were ignited by the passion of the cause, treated to some spectacular performances, and were also able to interact and be part of the action.”