I first fell in love with “Madwoman of Chaillot” when I was in college – (my French was still good enough to read part of it in the original, too… that really was a long time ago!) I read everything Giraudoux wrote next, fell in love with “Ondine”, too, then came back to “Chaillot”. I re-read it a year ago, just to see whether it had aged like fine wine… or instead, like bad food in a forgotten wastebasket. Discovered that not only did the unique characters still hold up, but that the story is arguably more relevant today than it was when it was written in the 1940s.
I put the script down, and was filled with a yearning. A yearning to believe that the message was true. That it was possible. As an individual, that I could meet the play’s challenge… that I could change the world from my tiny vantage point, to restore it to the fragile world of the poetic, the lovely, the loved.
French sensibilities about language are not often translated well, but Valency has captured the lyricism and humor really well. And the characters. The four madwomen are all endearing. Their street friends are equally endearing. The final message… that even the slightest of us can overpower evil, and thus, preserve the world for the pure of heart… is heartbreakingly hopeful, and a message we need now more than perhaps ever before.
I have the luxury of working with a cast of full-hearted actors, who have been good to the story and good to each other. Seventeen is a huge cast, and we have everyone from young children to older actors – first-timers to long-time veterans, so it would have been easy for them not to ‘gel’, but they have indeed gelled. In the telling of a sweet story.
The madwomen, particularly the first three, constantly relive the favorite moments of their youth, when the possibility of true love hung in the balance. As I watch, I feel the tug I felt the first time I read it, when I longed to know whether that purity was possible. I long to believe it still can.
So, as we prepare this charming story for you, I hope you choose to join us to hear the story of the “Madwoman of Chaillot”, all of her friends, and the evil-doers that they confront, and finally, happily, condemn.
- Tami Ramaker, Exec Director