A dramatic reading
Adapted and performed by
Bizet, Carl Off, Chopin, Yvette Guilbert, Liszt, Rossini
production/distribution Carpe Diem Argenteuil
licence Drac N° 2-1035973 supported by the city of Argenteuil and the Val d’Oise Council
email: email@example.com website: http://theatre.carpediem.free.fr/ +33 (0)1 34 10 21 21/+33 (0)6 86 91 55 62
Statement of intent
Emma Bovary is an avid reader of romantic novels, which distorts her perception of love and reality. She wants her life to become one of the novels she read as a girl.
“I am Madame Bovary.” This statement, attributed to Gustave Flaubert,
who was also a voracious reader, implies that writing this novel was a way for the writer to reveal his own ‘affliction’.
Madame Bovary took a long time to write (1851 to 1856). Over those five years, Flaubert meticulously crossed out, corrected and reworked page after page until he found the mot juste, both semantically and lyrically.
Then he would read his text aloud to see how well it flowed before moving onto the gueuloir test (reading aloud at a high volume) to hone the lexical depth and perfect the rhythm and sound.
It was a difficult labour. He wrote: “Earlier, at 6 o’clock, when I was writing the words anxiety attack, I got so carried away, shouted so loudly and felt so deeply what Emma was going through that I was worried I would have one myself.”
When she poisons herself with arsenic, Emma spits up a black, ink-like liquid. Like Flaubert, who in his work spits out and rejects the romantic literary form.
Emma is aware that she doesn’t fit in with the society around her. But when she gives up and dies, Flaubert finds a reason to live in writing: sublimating life in art: “Something that seems wonderful to me, something I would like to do is write a book about nothing, a book held together by the strength of its style.”
Our adaptation of Madame Bovary highlights Flaubert’s meticulous writing process, and his practical, visual, figurative and sensual imagination.
It also demonstrates the subtly of Flaubert’s humour. Yes, Madame Bovary has humorous, amusing touches that contrast with the work’s overall more weighty tone and the small-mindedness of the provincial middle classes.
The tone is set from the very beginning, as soon as Charles arrives at school: “Charles was holding his cap in his hands. It was composed of three circular bands with patches of velvet and rabbit skin, one of those pathetic objects that are deeply expressive in their dumb ugliness, like an idiot’s face.”
And as the narrative continues, comic elements abound: the names of characters with bovine-sounding names (Bovary, Tuvache), satirical touches (Rodolphe writing his break up letter to Emma in a romantic style), the character of Charles (“Charles’ conversation was flat as a street pavement. Sometimes he came home late, sometimes at twelve o’clock. He would want something to eat, so Emma looked after him; then he would take himself off to bed, where he lay down on his back and started snoring“).
It’s a work that deserves to be read, a reading that needs to be heard to be better appreciated, a novel to read and listen to.
The adaptation complements Flaubert’s writing. It encourages you to savour the style, the realist descriptions and the humorous situations in which Flaubert immerses his characters.
It is centred around the characters of Emma, her husband Charles Bovary, her lovers Leon and Rodolphe, and the shopkeeper Lheureux, who contributes to the Bovarys’ financial ruin.
The story begins and ends with Charles, as if he were the real protagonist.
The actor moves around a table and chair, papers in his hands, and addresses the audience to tell them the story and act out the dialogue and characters.
The music (Bizet, Carl Off, Chopin, Yvette Guilbert, Liszt, Rossini) is either used interstitially or in the background, while the lighting by Ydir Acef highlights the writer’s jubilation.
1821 – 1880
“There are in me, literally speaking, two distinct persons: one who is infatuated with bombast, lyricism, eagle fights, sonorities of phrase and the high points of ideas; and another who digs and burrows into truth as deeply as he can.”
Gustave Flaubert, 16 January 1852
Actor and director of the Carpe Diem company in Argenteuil, André Salzet studied at the Charles Dullin School before participating in workshops with Pierre Debauche, Catherine Anne, Célie Pauthe and Nicolas Briançon.
In 1987, he performed in productions of Ben Jonson’s Volpone and Christopher Marlowe’sTamburlaine the Great at the Théâtre de l’Epée de Bois, directed by Antonio Diaz Florian. In 1989, he appeared in the Théâtre du Soleil film La Nuit Miraculeuse (The Miraculous Night), directed by Ariane Mnouchkine.
Firmly believing that the words of novelists, storytellers and short story writers also have their place in the theatre, he adapted and performed texts by Boris Vian, Guy de Maupassant, Stefan Zweig, Franz Kafka, Michel Quint, Ramón Sender and Arthur Schnitzler, to name but a few.
He is currently touring with a production of The Royal Game by Stefan Zweig, In The Penal Colony by Franz Kafka and Rêves d’Amour (Dreams of Love) adapted from a work by Guy de Maupassant.
After studying Dramatic Art under Jean Périmony, Sylvie Blotnikas wrote and acted in three plays staged by Julien Rochefort at the Théâtre du Poche-Montparnasse: Antoine and Catherine, Edouard dans le Tourbillon (Edward Caught in the Whirlwind) and Strictement Amical (Just Friends).
She won Best Newcomer at the 2001 Molières theatre awards in the actor and writer categories for Antoine and Catherine.
She has appeared in films and on television with, amongst others, Nicole Garcia, Arnaud Desplechin, Pierre Richard, Denys Granier-Deferre, Serge Moati and Edouard Molinaro.
She also wrote the screenplay for the TV film Drôle de Noël (Strange Christmas).
She recently adapted and directed Pyrénées ou le Voyage de l’été 1843 (Pyrénées or the Voyage of Summer 1843) based on the work by Victor Hugo with Julien Rochefort at the Lucernaire.
Charles went to secondary school at age 12. His hair was cut straight across his forehead like a village chorister and he looked extremely ill at ease. He was holding his cap in his hands. It was composed of three circular bands with patches of velvet and rabbit skin, one of those pathetic objects that are deeply expressive in their dumb ugliness, like an idiot’s face.
The teacher asked him his name. In a faltering voice, the new boy uttered an unintelligible name. Summoning all his courage, he shouted at the top of his voice: “Charbovari”. The class erupted into pandemonium, screaming repeatedly, “Charbovari! Charbovari”.
His mother wanted him to study medicine. Charles didn’t understand a thing; he listened but nothing would sink in. He completely failed his exam. His mother forgave him and arranged things with the examiners. The next year, he learned all the questions by heart in advance and became a doctor, though a second-rate one.
Six weeks went by. Rodolphe had said to himself the day after the agricultural show:
“Wouldn’t do to go back too soon, that would be a mistake. If Emma fell in love with me the first day, she must have been dying to see me again, and she’ll be more in love with me than ever now. Very well, proceed!”
And when he saw Emma turn pale at his entrance, he knew he had not miscalculated. He said to her, “I think of you constantly! Though I didn’t call on you, I used to get up every night and come here. I used to gaze up at the little lamp gleaming through the window. Oh, forgive me! No, no, I should go now… Goodbye! You’ll hear no more of me… But today, some mysterious force has impelled me to you!”
Emma had never been told such things before.
“Oh, you are good!” she said with a sob.
They heard a noise coming from the vestibule. It was Charles, her husband, coming home.
“Good evening, Doctor,” said Rodolphe. “Your wife has been telling me about her health… I was wondering whether horse riding might do her some good.”
“Why of course, excellent!” said Charles. “There’s an idea now! Health comes first!”
Sciez-sur-Léman Festival (74) on 25/08/16, Jardins de Poulaines (36) on 16/09/17…