Welcome to my dramaturgy page. Here I’ll post research results for plays I study, beginning with The Madwoman of Chaillot. If you use the research in your own work please give credit and leave a comment with a link to any online postings. Thank you.
The Madwoman of Chaillot
The challenge for any production company in staging a classic play such as The Madwoman of Chaillot by Jean Giraudoux is to make the play accessible and relevant to current day performers, designers and audiences. This is the part dramaturgy can play, making connections, clarifying and deciphering the world of the play. A lot of dramaturgy is research. But it’s important to get beyond the hunt and gather stage and find ways to communicate the interesting stuff you uncover to the folk who really need it.
If they’re greedy they’ve already lost
The Madwoman of Chaillot draws us into a beautiful fantasy about truth and beauty, grounded in a sort of reality, and transcending place and time to illustrate truth about our own day and age. Jean Giraudoux himself stated that, “There is no theatre which is not prophesy,” The Madwoman of Chaillot, translated by Maurice Valency, unlike other plays of that era, stands the test of time. Giraudoux gives us, in his final play, a lasting fable about the joy of life. Countess Aurelia sums up what the playwright seems to intend us to take away after the curtain falls, “To be alive is to be fortunate.”
In spite of having seen the rise of the National Socialist Party first-hand as a diplomat in Germany, and having watched his beloved Paris invaded and infiltrated by an occupying army, Giraudoux had not lost his faith in the basic humanity of mankind. He spins a beautiful vision of the world, “the living must live…the living must die…autumn follows summer…spring follows winter…there are four elements, happiness, millions of catastrophes, that life is a reality, that it is a dream…” (Visitations). Despite his transcendent, almost mystical view of life, Giraudoux remains grounded in reality and in Madwoman offers a practical, if outrageous, solution to the problem he postulates, how do we combat the evil infiltrating our world and robbing us of our happiness? The Madwoman’s response…get rid of all the evil people…at once…after a fair trial, of course.
…to continue reading go to the downloadable PDF: If They’re Greedy Then They’ve Lost
A map of Paris circa 1937
A Glossary for The Madwoman of Chaillot
A glossary is an important part of making sense of a classic play, and of the world of the play. So many words, terms and concepts have changed meaning in the course of the 75 years since its writing. For the glossary I’ve prepared for The Madwoman of Chaillot, click here.
Check back with this page. In the coming weeks I’ll add interesting links I’ve found and a study guide. Do you have questions or want to discuss The Madwoman of Chaillot or Dramaturgy in general? Let’s talk. Contact me through the form below.