Experiencing French Theater

Remember that time I got so excited about writing a French paper that I promptly turned in a 6-page draft instead of the 4-page minimum? And then made all my friends yell at me when I, unsurprisingly, muttered that I constantly go over page limits? (Problem? Me? Nah. In case you don’t believe me, I have Snapchat proof.)

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Anyways, my explication de texte allowed me to delve into proto-feminism for the first time, something that (along with my professor) has been nudging me towards grad school. So when I saw that there would be a performance of Marivaux’s play Le jeu de l’amour et du hasard, how was I supposed to pass that opportunity up?

At the Maison des Arts et des Loisirs, I certainly was not expecting a line, but somehow the largest number of people I’d ever seen in Laon, outside of school, was crammed into the lobby. Honestly, I didn’t even know the city had a theater. At the counter, I’m sure could’ve lied and said that I was a student to get a cheaper ticket price, but seeing as there were a few teachers from Claudel nearby, I decided not to take advantage of my baby face for once.

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When the 1-hour 15-minute long play started, I’ll admit I was a bit confused. Not because I couldn’t understand the French, but because the first five minutes were completely silent and I could not for the life of me fathom the presence of the radio, laptop, or phone–the comedy’s supposed to take place in the 18th century. I quickly realized the company had given the play a modern twist, which worked out in their favor, allowing them to add little comedic touches here and there in order to enhance the original script.

(Quick summary of the play: Silvia, a noblewoman, decides to disguise herself as her maid Lisette in order to observe and interact with her fiancé Dorante. Unbeknownst to her, Dorante has the same idea, disguising himself as his valet Arlequin. Shenanigans ensue.)

Some internal screaming may or may not have been involved when I recognized the scene that I chose to analyze in FREN 437. I mean, it’s not at all nerdy to look at a French text from a feminist perspective by examining the radical concept of choice within the socio-economic context of the 18th century.

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Highlight of the play: watching Dorante fail miserably in his valet role. At one point, he was supposed to make bread, but had clearly never cracked an egg in his life. It resulted in him scooping one egg off the table and then placing the second in a bowl, smashing it with the whisk, and scooping out the fragments of shell.

Watching one of my favorite plays come to life–in a different language, no less–was a well-spent 12 euros, and I finally understand why teachers constantly say that plays need to be watched or read aloud.

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