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Cyrano de Bergerac

The Man Behind the Nose: Edmond Rostand

Posted on: September 11th, 2012 by Education @ Roundabout

 

The life of French playwright Edmond Rostand has been called “a barometer of that turbulent yet heady era” in which he lived. Rostand was born in 1868, just a few years before France’s self-confidence was shaken by defeat in the Franco-Prussian war. The government was shifting from monarchy to republic, while the rise of industrialization changed the economy and social life. Rostand lived through these changes and the end of World War One, to see France re-emerge as a major European power.

Rostand was born into an affluent and cultured family in Marseille, an important center for industry and maritime trade.  His father Eugène was an economist and poet, a member of the Marseille Academy and the Institute de France, and his mother, a strict Catholic, raised Rostand in the Catholic tradition. As an adult Rostand was not devout, but he used elements of Catholic themes and symbols throughout his plays.

Rostand excelled as a student of history and philosophy.  Pushed by his father, he went on to study law at the Sorbonne in Paris. As a student he also published poetry and essays in literary magazines. After publishing his first volume of poems Les Musardises in 1890, he abandoned the law to pursue literature -- much to his parents’ disapproval. Around this time, he married fellow poet Rosemonde Gérard, the granddaughter of one of Napoleon’s marshals.

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Related Categories:
2012-2013 Season, Cyrano de Bergerac, Education @ Roundabout


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From the Artistic Director: CYRANO DE BERGERAC

Posted on: September 11th, 2012 by Todd Haimes

 

In a new translation by Ranjit Bolt under the direction of Jamie Lloyd, Cyrano de Bergerac marks our first production at the American Airlines Theatre this season in a production that will leave you breathless. Jamie is making his Broadway directorial debut with this production, and he has no interest in entering the scene quietly. Obviously, I’m perfectly aware that Cyrano is not a piece that has been neglected on big stages in recent years. However, when a director has an exciting new vision for this kind of enduring story, with new ways of looking at iconic scenes and characters, it’s foolish to let timing stand in the way. Believe me, you may have seen Cyrano before, but you’ve never seen it like this.

Jamie is adopting a visceral approach to the piece. Taking the words of Cyrano himself to heart, Jamie believes that if it’s not done with panache, it’s not worth doing. And you will see that philosophy in ample evidence throughout the production. This will not be a period piece with presentational speechifying in pretty costumes. These characters will be played as real people, in real clothes, with three-dimensional relationships. Soldiers of the 17th century were not elegant gentlemen with clean feathers in their hats. They were grimy, masculine, hungry men, aggressive in attitude (and probably quite gnarly in odor). That’s the world that you’ll be seeing in this Cyrano, one in which food and dirt are thrown about in equal measure, and every disagreement has the potential to become a bloody fight at a moment’s notice. Yes, there will be beautiful, witty language, and there will be love and romance, but these elements will shine even more brightly against a backdrop that reeks of realism.

Of course, none of this would matter without the right man playing the title role: Douglas Hodge. This production came together in large part because of my desire to work with this brilliant actor. American audiences have had the chance to see Doug in his Tony-winning performance as Albin in La Cage aux Folles, but they’ve never seen him take on a classical role like this one. Doug is one of those rare chameleonic actors who can make himself at home in any period or any style, and he is creating an utterly unique Cyrano who fits him like a glove, big nose and all. We learn so much about the plays that have stood the test of time by seeing them anew with the greatest actors making their mark on these stories. I know that Doug’s Cyrano will honor the tradition of that character’s iconic wordplay and swordplay, while also filling him with a vitality all his own.

Whether you’ve seen Cyrano in action before or will be encountering this swashbuckler for the first time, I think this production will be a thrilling one for you to see. As always, I would be very happy to hear your thoughts on the play, so please continue to share your reactions by emailing me at artisticoffice@roundabouttheatre.org.

I look forward to seeing you at the theatre!

Todd Haimes
Artistic Director


Related Categories:
2012-2013 Season, Cyrano de Bergerac, From Todd Haimes


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A Conversation with Director: Jamie Lloyd

Posted on: September 11th, 2012 by Roundabout

 

Ted Sod, Education Dramaturg, spoke to director Jamie Lloyd about his thoughts on Cyrano de Bergerac.

Ted Sod: Could you tell us where you were born and how you decided to become a theatre director?

Jamie Lloyd: I was born in Poole in Dorset, which is on the south coast of England. We moved further along the coast when my mother remarried, to Hastings. But we always lived in quaint towns by the sea. My father is a truck driver. My mum was once a cleaner. We were a very working class family. I’ve got two brothers and two sisters, and they have vastly different occupations. I’ve been trying to figure out how I got into all of this theatre madness.

TS: Are you in the middle?

JL: I’m the youngest. Even though I didn’t grow up in a theatre family per se, there was a kind of bizarre theatricality. My mum went on to run a fancy dress shop. I used to dress up with my cousins as Michael Jackson and perform shows. We used to stage “Thriller” and make graveyards out of polystyrene blocks. My dad was a talented drummer in a local band and ended up managing a Cliff Richard and the Shadows tribute band. You probably don’t know who Cliff Richard is here in the States, but in London, you would be saying, “That’s hilarious!” There were entertainers in my family. My granddad used to play the spoons and did it incredibly well and intricately. We had all sorts of characters stay with us. One of our lodgers was a snake charmer. I used to play with the snakes in the paddling pool at the back. When my mum remarried, my stepfather did children’s entertainment. He used to dress up as a clown called Uncle Funny who was the most unfunny clown. He was also a kiss-a-gram, which is like a stripper. But instead of being Mr. Universe- a big muscle man- he was “Mr. Puny-verse.” He was this unpleasant tiny, skinny man in his fifties and he would take his clothes off! He used to keep the dwarf rabbits that he used in magic tricks in the living room, and they would poo all over the floor. My mother married yet again (unsurprisingly), and my new stepfather was a guitarist in local bands. It was the most extraordinary childhood you could have conceived!

TS: It sounds like a terrific plot for a movie. When did you get bitten by the bug?

JL: I ended up being in local shows, Pantomimes and things like that. They would always take kids from the local dance and drama school, and I was doing that. I got into a school on a drama scholarship. It was then that I started to act a lot and started going to the theatre on school trips. My parents were very supportive.

TS: Were you very familiar with the play Cyrano de Bergerac when you agreed to direct it?

JL: I’d never read it before and I’ve never seen it. Of course, I knew the story. Everybody forgets that it’s a classic French play because it has become so much a part of everyone’s culture. Some people about the Steve Martin movie, Roxanne, others about the swashbuckling hero played by Jose Ferrer. The play has often been dismissed as a two-dimensional action-rom-com. The work that I have been doing with Soutra Gilmour, who is designing sets and costumes, is as detailed as possible. These are based on real people. Cyrano actually walked the streets of 17th Century Paris. If you consider that, you can’t dress him with a kind of flamboyant, phony theatricality. He’s got to wear real clothes. You’ve got to give him a costume that is worn in. You have to populate the society around him with real people, with thorough back stories. There’s a real texture and grime to their lives. There is a sweaty underbelly to the world that we’re creating.

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Related Categories:
2008-2009 Season, 2012-2013 Season, A Conversation with, Cyrano de Bergerac


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