Tidbit for you (that has existed in a “pending-posting” state for, oh, a while).
In Rostand’s Cyrano de Bergerac, Roxane’s duenna indicates that Roxane will be able to meet Cyrano after attending church at Saint-Roch. In Roets’ adapatation, Duenna suggests that Roxane will be attending mass at Saint-Germain.
Turns out that Saint-Roch didn’t so much exist in 1640, the year of the first four acts of Cyrano (and, you know, Cyrano de Bergerac). Construction didn’t begin until 1653, and wasn’t finished until the 1700s. Saint-Germain, on the other hand…. There are actually a couple of churches in Paris holding the name: Saint-Germain l’Auxerrois and Saint-Germain de Pres. Saint-Germain l’Auxerrois seems our likely candidate, and was well-established by the time 1640 rolled around. In fact, Saint-Germaine l’Auxerrois was fairly favored by the royals.
What’s more, it’s located near the supposed location of Ragueneau’s pastry shop, allowing a logical path for Roxane to take in stopping off to meet Cyrano and discuss her recent crush.
The church in Cyrano did exist. The church in Cyrano de Bergerac…. We-ell, not so much in reality, but we’re dealing with a work of fiction, here, and Rostand had a bit of a field day embellishing on reality. It’s all in the imaginative spirit, gives us more freedom in considering the world of the play (one the rules start to bend and shift, lud knows where one might go), and a reference to, say, a church that didn’t yet exist, isn’t likely to destroy the experience of a production.
“Pleonasms are the opposites (antonyms) of oxymora. A pleonasm consists of two concepts (usually two words) that are redundant. What does “redundant” mean? Well, how about “more than enough; overabundant; excess; and superfluous”? Still having a problem understanding what pleonasm means? Some pleonastic expressions are also known as tautologies. Tautology means, “needless repetition of an idea in a different word, phrase, or sentence; redundancy; pleonasm.” What about pleonasm? It means, “the use of more words than are necessary for the expression of an idea; redundancy.” So it is that we go around in circles: pleonasm means tautology, which means redundancy, which means pleonasm, which means tautology—ad infinitum.”—http://www.wordexplorations.com/pleonasm.html
“There’s another side to Santa that can be frightening: the idea that Santa is all-powerful, that he can see inside us, that he knows what we are thinking.”—Mr. Rogers, interview for Ladies’ Home Journal, 1999
How To Become a Theater Company’s Practical Dreamer
By James Magruder
The essay excerpted here was written in 1998 as an informal position paper to entice the Mellon Foundation into supporting dramaturgy at CENTERSTAGE. The strategy worked; in the fall of 1999, the Foundation awarded the theater an unprecedented matching grant for dramaturgical activity. Matched by individual donations and other funds, the CENTERSTAGE dramaturgy endowment was established at $2 million.
Any dramaturg spends a significant portion of his or her time on the job responding to the question “What is a dramaturg?” Throughout my nine years in the business, I have explained and explained again—and again—to friends, actors, sixth graders, dates, dentists, donors and my uncomprehending family, that dramaturgy is a function more than a job description. To keep my answer fresh, I try to think up new images for myself every season. Sometimes they’re lofty: The Keeper of the Flame of Thespis. The Conscience of the Theater. The Bridge Between Page and Stage. Others are more pedestrian: The Artistic Enabler. The Resident Egghead and Cultural Flypaper. Always I try not to be defined by how others have historically viewed me: The Guy with the Library Card. The Useless Appendix of the American Theater. Last-hired, First-fired. The Cheese Stands Alone.
We are a misunderstood lot, but not tragically so. Our (relative) enfranchisement as theater professionals in America is recent; and if our progress as the closet idealists who attempt to forward the art form by our thoughts and deeds has not been exactly swift, it’s not surprising. We live in a young country whose biases are anti-intellectual, ahistorical, anti-art and utilitarian, and we work in a not-for-profit arts culture that is increasingly obsessed with the bottom line. Dramaturgy in America got started in the mid-’70s when regional theaters realized they needed “literary managers” to process all the new scripts for all the new-play programs generated by funding initiatives. Eventually, the more artistically minded theaters realized it wasn’t a bad idea to have a smart person on staff to help select repertory, do research and educate the public as to the mission of the institution and the aims of individual productions. As the money flowed through the go-go ’80s, even the theaters that didn’t know how to deploy dramaturgs hired them.
When I entered the dramaturgy program at the Yale School of Drama in 1985, I barely knew what a dramaturg was. I was just thrilled to have discovered a profession within the theater that could make use of my writing skills, my critical eye and my brain without my having to be a director. I spent three years there explaining why I was not a threat to suspicious playwrights and insecure directors. My image for dramaturgy then was Chief Chair-Scootcher. At the first day of rehearsal, at the big table in the middle of the room, there were chairs for the director, the designers, the playwright, the actors and the stage manager. The dramaturg had to scootch his chair forward from the corner, making embarrassing noises and apologizing for being a bother as he hoped someone at the big table would make room for him to squeeze in. It was not a happy time. I was ready to leave the profession before I even started.
[· · ·]
I came to Center Stage—a theater with a long and abiding respect for the input of several eggheads—in 1991, during the season in which Irene Lewis began her tenure as artistic director. I expect that our collaboration will be the most fruitful of my dramaturgical life. Working against adverse circumstances for the arts, we have continued the mission of presenting challenging repertory, classics and new plays that lead, rather than follow, audience expectations, with the finest theater artists we can lure to Baltimore.
I read new plays; I cut Shakespeare; I agitate for Aeschylus and Marlowe in season planning; I take notes during run-throughs and previews, following the dramaturgical injunction to Make-It-Better; and I still get thrills in the rehearsal room and in the theater when one of those indelible, alchemical, truly theatrical moments happens. There are, however, things I have done here that no grad school could prepare me for. Writing an NEA grant proposal for Brendan Behan’s The Hostage in three days. Speaking to the Rotary Club in Little Italy about the fate of theater in the next millennium. Drafting an initial case study for an endowment campaign. Calling subscribers on the phone to ask them for money for the annual fund. Participating in new-trustee orientation every fall, filling the freshmen in on critical concepts like “actor workweeks” and “artistically driven.” Crafting copy for a television ad campaign. Whatever I do, whatever the season, the play, the audience, I am always making the case that theater matters.
My latest image for the dramaturg is Practical Dreamer. Other theaters use terms like collaboration, diversity, artistic excellence, fiscal responsibility, new voices, educational outreach and a living wage. In my time here I have watched, and helped, Irene and managing director Peter Culman and board president Nancy Roche strive mightily to live by these terms. Center Stage doesn’t need to have its dramaturgs be its conscience and its closet idealists. Center Stage itself is crawling with idealists of every stripe. Center Stage is also savvy enough to know how to perpetuate itself, how to preserve the continuation of its core values even as it prepares for inevitable transitions, whether they be internal changes in leadership or external changes in the business cycle. There is a very large place at the table for dramaturgs at Center Stage. Let it ever be so.
With The Importance of Being Earnest finally having reached its natural conclusion, now as defunct as Algernon’s poor exploded friend Bunbury, everything is packed up and packed off. But, various program pieces and other extended background materials endure at the cleverly devised microsite, handily available by following this link. Kudos to our intrepid graphics team of Jason, Tamika, and Bill for all they did to get this up and looking good, and to Heather for keeping it all straight. Check out all sorts of odd details and connections you probably never thought you’d need to make.
Sigh. First it was Disney’s balloon (“not in the book” as they declaim in Eason’s deliciously self-aware and faithful adaptation); then it was the CGI-driven departure from Verne’s original chronicled in this interesting, fairly technical blog post. Variations on this liberty-seizing pattern (most of them wanting to get the story airborne) are by now a well-entrenched part of the tradition of this poor book, which nevertheless endures. When the program material for our production goes online, read Drew’s ruminations on the subject in his extended profile of the many sides of Verne himself; from the very first, his writing, and 80 Days in particular, have proven prone to each new generation inscribing its own “take.” -ghw
Reading along, working at pinning down this Arras business, when I happened upon the following:
"Richelieu was disgraced in 1643, and he had to yield place as chief minister to Cardinal Mazarin…"
Yeah, all right. If by ‘was disgraced,’ you mean ‘was dead.’
Yes, Mazarin was up after Richelieu. Yes, Richelieu had his times of disgrace. Louis XIII wasn’t exactly thrilled to take him on in the first place (or so seems to be the case), and Richelieu had been out of favor during Louis’ early years.
Right, okay, mistakes happen. Lord knows I’m aware of the fact (And, hey-o, a sad offender). This begs a few questions, though… Was Richelieu so damned set on keeping control of France that he simply couldn’t let go? Was there some sort of ‘even DEATH shall not part us’ drama between Richelieu and France? Did Richelieu become a zombie or otherwise undead being, manipulating France behind the scenes, even as his flesh rotted (leaving some sort of, I don’t know, talking-Richelieu-skeleton)?
And, perhaps most disturbing of all: Does undead!Richelieu rule France to this very day?
Hey, maybe THAT’S why Fogg doesn’t go to Paris… I guess Verne knew what was up. He was uncommonly savvy all around, wasn’t he?
Inspired by Kristi’s ineffably free-associative set of references and links around Wilde, Verne, Murakami, and more, here is my offering: in honor of the upcoming Cyrano (or rather, more directly, of his eternal beloved, Roxane). However, it’s also taken from Moulin Rouge, which is set in Paris, not only the site of Rostand’s romance but also (despite those dire and dreadful warnings posted elsewhere here on Thaumaturgy) the natural haunts of Monsieur Jules Verne—author of Around the World in 80 Days, currently rehearsing. So there.
Now enjoy, and feel free to dance along. We won’t tell.