19th to 26th July 1986
Hercule-Savinien De Cyrano De Bergerac (1619 - 1655)
French poet, philosopher and playwright. The fictional Cyrano of Rostand’s play, with his enormous nose and insatiable appetite for duels, gives a distorted impression of a remarkable man. Extravagant action and extravagant language were the two passions of this courageous soldier and radical free thinker. Wounded in the throat at the siege of Arras in 1640, he left the army (the Gascony Cadets!) and threw himself into the intellectual life of Paris.
Cyrano’s baroque excesses of language and flights of fancy tended to obscure the action of his plays, but elements of his plots were later to be plagiarised by Molière among others. His treatise entitled Voyage to the Moon which speculated on space travel, has brought lasting recognition as the first Science Fiction writer.
His play La Morte d’Agrippine (1653) was adjudged immoral and anti-religious and brought him into fierce conflict with the authorities. Few tears were shed when in 1655 a piece of timber “fell” on his head. The wound proved fatal.
|Cyrano de Bergerac||Ken Spencer|
|De Guiche||James Smith|
|Le Bret||Harry Tuffill|
|Captain de Jaleux||Jim Oliver|
|De Valvert||Chris Williams|
|The Duenna||Jenni Watson|
|Flower Girl||Hilary Bowen|
|D’Artagnan||John Carrington Jr|
|Mother Marguerite||Jean Johnson|
|Sister Marthe||Sheila Clark|
|Sister Clare||Jan Ward|
|Flunkeys||Sue Cunningham, Louise White|
|Apprentices||Daisy Morris, Emma Carrington, Becky Williams, Elisabeth Rackham|
|Cadets||Mark Hamilton, Kevin Munro, Huw Thomas|
|Pages||Alice Watson, Ellen Watson|
|For the Maskers:|
|Assistant Director||Hazel Burrows|
|Stage Manager||Tony Lawther|
|Assistant Stage Manager||Angie Barks|
|Battle Staging||Phillip & Sue Aldmark and members of The Sealed Knot|
|Cyrano Prosthetics||Stan Phipps|
Rostand was born in Marseilles in 1868 and died in 1918. His thirty year literary career is marked by one astronomical success and a number of plays of lesser note. Although groomed by his father for a career as a lawyer, Edmond displayed an early interest in marionette theatre and poetry. After studying literature at the Collége Stanislas in Paris, his first poetry was published in the small academy review Mireille. His play Les Romanesques was produced in 1894, followed a year later by La Princesse Lointainel. The playwright’s name and influence spread and popular stars of the theatre, including Sarah Bernhardt and Benoit Constant Coquelin were featured in the most prominent roles.
Rostand’s fame peaked in 1898 with the first production of Cyrano de Bergerac, a five act verse drama. The play was important to the drama of the time for it’s romantic nature was in complete contrast to the stark realistic convention then in vogue. It was a phenomenal success.
The next play L’Aiglon was also adjudged a success, but perhaps more for Sarah Bernhardt’s acting than for the play itself. Retiring from Paris, Rostand was to produce no more work for ten years and when the highly experimental Chantecler reached the stage in 1910 it flopped dismally.
Rostand’s health was failing and being refused entry into the French Army in 1914, he spent the war in retirement. Four years after his death the play La Premiére Nuit de Don Juan was discovered among his papers and staged in Paris in 1922. It was a resounding failure.
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