The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey's reading of The Madwoman of Chaillot pits the people of Paris against “big oil”
The “Lend Us Your Ears” series features prestigious actors and includes a post-play discussion with the artists
The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey’s Lend Us Your Ears play reading series concludes its 2013 offerings with a reading of The Madwoman of Chaillot on Monday, November 11th at 7:00 p.m. Written by Jean Giraudoux and adapted by Maurice Valency, this eerily prescient, eccentric post-war comedy pits the common people of Paris against a conglomerate of financiers determined to destroy the City of Lights and profit from the reputed oil fields lying beneath its streets.
The reading will take place at The Shakespeare Theatre’s Main Stage, the F.M. Kirby Shakespeare Theatre, 36 Madison Ave. (at Lancaster Road) in Madison. The evening will also include a post-play talk-back session with the director, cast, and audience. For tickets or more information, call the box office at 973-408-5600 or visit www.ShakespeareNJ.org.
Giraudoux was a French novelist, essayist, and playwright whose poetic and often fantastical work defined the French literary scene between World War I and World War II. Giraudoux’s satirical and paradoxical sense of humor bridged the gap between the richly poetic turn-of-the-century French theatre and the revolutionary post-war avant-garde work of Ionesco, Beckett, and Genet.
Written in 1943 and first performed in 1945 after Giraudoux’s death, The Madwoman of Chaillot is set in a Parisian café, Chez Francis, on the Place de l’Alma in the Chaillot suburb “between the Champs-Elysées and the Seine, across the river from the Eiffel Tower.” Colorful personalities including The Waiter, The Street Singer, The Ragpicker, The Juggler, The Sewer Man populate the bohemian world of “The Madwoman,” Countess Aurelia—the aging and idealistic eccentric who actively opposes the corruption and greedof the scheming corporate financiers.
At the heart of the play is Giradoux’s “belief in the people of Paris, who bear the brunt of suffering but rise above their strife to preserve their precious city—from a playwright who would not live to see the Liberation” (The Austin Chronicle). The New York Drama Critics’ Circle praised the 1948 Broadway production as “pure gold” and “one of the most interesting and rewarding plays to have been written within the last twenty years.” The play inspired a 1969 Broadway musical adaption Dear World starring Angela Lansbury, with music and lyrics by Jerry Herman, book by Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee. In the same year, Katharine Hepburn starred as Countess Aurelia in the film adaption.
Tickets for the reading of The Madwoman of Chaillot are $15 for adults; student tickets are $10 each. For tickets, call the box office at 973-408-5600, visit www.ShakespeareNJ.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey’s Main Stage, the 308-seat F.M. Kirby Shakespeare Theatre, is conveniently located in Madison at 36 Madison Avenue (Route 124) at Lancaster Road (on the Drew University campus), just minutes from routes 287, 78 and 10. Parking is free.
The F.M. Kirby Shakespeare Theatre is barrier free with access into the Theatre via a ramp and elevator access to all floors. Wheelchair seating and transfer seating is available. Braille and large print programs are available. Infrared listening devices are available free of charge. Some performances are audio described. Contact the Theatre for more information. For more information, or to purchase tickets, call 973-408-5600 or visit www.ShakespeareNJ.org.