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New Play about Marie-Antoinette

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New Play about Marie-Antoinette

Post  Elena on Sat Mar 17, 2012 9:43 pm

http://www.theatermania.com/boston/news/03-2012/david-adjmis-marie-antoinette-to-open-american-rep_52673.html
The world premiere of David Adjmi's Marie Antoinette will be the opening production in the 2012-2013 season at American Repertory Theater (A.R.T.). Rebecca Taichman will direct the piece, which A.R.T. is co-producing with Yale Repertory Theatre.

The play focuses on the infamous French queen at both her height of power and as her fortunes turn. Casting will be announced in the near future.

http://articles.boston.com/2012-03-16/arts/31195680_1_open-season-porgy-and-bess-production

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Re: New Play about Marie-Antoinette

Post  Mata Hari on Tue Oct 22, 2013 6:59 pm

This play sounds like an extremely inaccurate portrayal of our Queen.
http://showbusinessweekly.com/article-2345-%E2%80%9Cmarie-antoinette%E2%80%9D-by-david-adjmi.html
Review by Jan Rosenberg

It’s not easy being Queen. In this zany, disturbing portrait directed by Rebecca Taichman, we’re given a kaleidoscope view of the emotionally disturbed historical pop icon. Marin Ireland’s thrilling portrayal of the doomed Queen of France is so multifaceted that it’s hard to believe that Marie is portrayed by only one actress.

Though Anka Lupe’s costume design insists that we’re in eighteenth century France, Adjmi’s characters speak with modern day affectations. Listening to Marie and her friends gossip, one might feel that they’re listening to the mean girls gossip in a high school cafeteria. Their language is a hybrid of ditzy Valley Girl and dramatic social media emoticons.

Molded and packaged to be Queen since childhood, Marie claims she often feels unfairly judged and trapped. She can’t seem to do anything right. Though she’s revered as a fashion icon, she’s criticized for her lavish spending and failure to produce an heir with King Louis XVI (played by Stephen Rattazzi). She seeks out sympathy from her friends Yolande De Polignac (Marsha Stephanie Blake) and Therese De Lamballe (Jennifer Ikeda). They nod politely and nibble pastries as Marie complains, but their discomfort is clear from their uneasy glances and punctuated silences. It’s easy to understand why they walk on eggshells with her, for at the drop of a hat Marie turns into Regina George a la ‘Mean Girls’.

Marie’s cruelty stems from insecurities with herself as Queen and an emotionally stagnant childhood. “Sometimes I feel like I’m not even a person,” she laments. She claims her Mother could barely remember her fifteen siblings’ names, and this is reflected in her shortness with her son The Dauphin (Aimee Laurence). Her husband King Louis XVI receives the brunt of her maliciousness. Soft spoken and painfully shy, he cowers in fear of his wife and her brother Emperor Joseph (Karl Miller). Reviled by his childishness and sexual impotence, Marie flirts with family friend Axel Fersen (Chris Stack). We see her begin to lose traction with reality, culminating in conversations with an all-knowing sheep (David Greenspan) who seems to act as prophetic warning of her downfall. As matters in France become increasingly dire, the beast in Marie begins to rear its ugly head. The Royal Family attempts escape from France, but are found and thrown in prison, now considered enemies of the state. As they wait to learn of their fate, Marie becomes a spitfire, snapping viciously at her frightened family and challenging the revolutionary guards (Will Pullen) with heated defiance. By the end, Marie is literally and figuratively stripped. What’s left is a hollow shell of a woman never equipped with proper tools to be a wife, mother, or a leader. Says Marie regrettably, “It’s like some awful dream, and it’s never been mine”.

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Re: New Play about Marie-Antoinette

Post  Mata Hari on Tue Oct 22, 2013 7:07 pm


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Re: New Play about Marie-Antoinette

Post  Sophie on Tue Oct 22, 2013 7:28 pm

People like to come with this "we show MA from a new perspective", but in fact they just repeat the same stuff. After Coppola came out with her "results" (ha-ha-ha, as if she really have done some real research... Evil or Very Mad ) that Antoinette was a teenage pop star, everyone has the "new perspective" by showing her as a teenage pop star. I blow my mind, really.

The only real "new perspective" would be to show Louis as a normal guy instead of some handicapped idiot. With a caricature-Louis, you simply can't have Antoinette "renewed"! Maybe you should simply dramatize/film the novel 'Trianon'... if it happens someday, I will be the first who buys the movie ticket or the DVD!
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Re: New Play about Marie-Antoinette

Post  Mata Hari on Tue Oct 22, 2013 7:35 pm

Yes, you are so right, Sophie, it is the same old lies, over and over again. No Crying or Very sad How wonderful for TRIANON to be dramatized!!flower 

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Re: New Play about Marie-Antoinette

Post  Bunnies on Thu Oct 24, 2013 11:42 am

Well, admittedly, while I think Coppola's film was inaccurate it was inaccurate in an entirely different way. I would never compare Kirstin Dunst's Marie-Antoinette to Regina George in Mean Girls. Dunst's portrayal was sympathetic and pliable, a young girl helplessly caught up in the whirlwind of Versailles politics. The mistakes she made were due to ignorance and not malice, a victim rather than a victimizer. And to a certain extent I think that's a fair judgment; the problem was Coppola never explored Antoinette's character beyond her first awkward years of Versailles, freezing the queen inside teenagerdom even as she nears her thirties. Development and context - that's the big flaw of the Coppola film.

This play, from what I'm seeing in the synopses posted, seems to be portraying Antoinette as the source of intrigue in Versailles rather than its target, the Machiavellian harpy who victimizes rather than is victimized. It looks like this Marie-Antoinette is a sultry femme-fatale -- which is the furthest thing I can think of from the wide-eyed little girl bustling into Versailles in 2006.

Now, of course, neither portrayal [as I understand them because of course I haven't seen the play...] is accurate. They're both caricatures. But to a certain extent...Well, I think they both have a grain of truth into them.

Now, some may believe that the femme fatale in the coming play is the most attune with contemporary records. And still others may believe that the senseless waif in Coppola's Marie-Antoinettep.. What everyone ignores if they choose to rigidly subscribe to either theory, though, is that Antoinette has always been mythologized as all of the above. Who was she, really? We'll never know, we just have the conflicting testimonies of those who knew her, pretended they did, or endured what they perceived to be her reign. But she was certainly complex, not the caricature of Sophia Coppola. I have no doubt she was victimized and manipulated while she tumbled through Versailles. But I also have no doubt that she played the game herself. Both portrayals have a grain of truth but they're only telling half the story and that's what prickles me about them.
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Re: New Play about Marie-Antoinette

Post  Mata Hari on Thu Oct 24, 2013 11:52 am

I find your reflections very helpful! Thank you!Very Happy 

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Re: New Play about Marie-Antoinette

Post  Sophie on Fri Oct 25, 2013 12:46 pm

Yes, your points are so good! I love you  With my comment I just reflected on this line from the Playbill article: "What do pop stars Britney Spears and Miley Cyrus have in common with the former Queen of France, Marie Antoinette?" I don't know why people like that pop star analogy, it's so misleading. Apart from the way and level of inaccuracy, I have the little bit radical opinion, as it follows: if you associate Antoinette with a pop star at the very beginning, then the whole portrayal can't be nothing else but inaccurate. The motivation of today's pop stars to be in the spotlight has nothing in common with a princess who was born and raised for a role she never wished for herself. Pop stars are more or less talented in their art, Antoinette and Louis never had good skills as politicians. They were the really grey next-door neighbours who had to live as pop stars, no surprise that they had that depressed phases... Razz 
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Re: New Play about Marie-Antoinette

Post  Bunnies on Fri Oct 25, 2013 8:59 pm

Ha ha, well, I'd say that Miley Cyrus and Marie-Antoinette are comparable insofar as they've both been compartamentalized and taken out of context in order to press a further agenda. Come now, is Cyrus that much edgier than any other musician? Lady Gaga and Katy Perry don't exactly remind me of the Virgin Mary. Why is she highlighted for censure? Her actions, which would be seen as normal or even amusing coming from another person, are grave sins solely because they are done by Miley Cyrus.

I'm not even a fan of Miley's by any stretch of the imagination. But I think we gotta cut the girl some slack.

I'm digressing again. But if you accept my contention as true, I'm sure you'll see a comparison between the pop star and the queen. Notice, however, that this isn't the sort of parallel usually employed. Instead, the black legend of Antoinette will be used to compare the black legend of some-other-unpopular-woman.

if you associate Antoinette with a pop star at the very beginning, then the whole portrayal can't be nothing else but inaccurate.
That's interesting. You argue, then, that whatever you search for in Antoinette's characterization you'll find? Surely a more hostile witness would say the same but inverted. That is, if you associate Antoinette with a wronged victim at the very beginning, then the whole portrayal can't be nothing else but inaccurate.

On that note, a friend of mine once concocted a very amusing, but terrifyingly well-argued, thesis contending that Marie-Antoinette was one of the forerunners of Communism. Obviously untrue, and my friend was patently joking, but it just goes to show: if you let your preconceptions bring you to evidence rather than the evidence bring you to conceptions, you'll...

Well, you'll be able to "prove" whatever you want, but it won't necessarily be accurate, now will it?
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Re: New Play about Marie-Antoinette

Post  Mata Hari on Sat Oct 26, 2013 12:00 pm

Great discussion! Here is a new one woman play about the Queen, which sounds better, even if it is written by Evelyn Lever. Rolling Eyes 
http://suffolkjournal.net/2013/10/marie-antoinette-in-a-different-light-one-woman-show-depicts-human-side-of-controversial-queen/
This weekend The French Theatrical Foundation presented “Marie-Antoinette In Her Own Words” at the Modern Theatre. The French Theatrical Foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting awareness and appreciation of French and French-Language performing arts.

The play was a one-act, one-woman show starring French actress Barbara Schulz and directed by Katherine Adamov. Schulz has been featured in over 50 films and television programs, is one of France’s leading actresses in theatre and on television and film, and was nominated for a French Oscar, a Cèsar.

The play is adapted from Evelyne Lever’s book Marie Antoinette, The Last Queen of France. Lever is a French historian and author. It takes place from the very moment Antoinette arrives in Versailles, to her last letter right before she was killed.

Prior to the play’s weekend at the Modern Theater, producer Ross Mitchell, Schulz, and Adamov held a Q&A session at the Studio Theater located in Archer. All three gave a great deal of insight into what the production and staging process was like for the show. They also gave very strong opinions to back up their point of view on Antoinette and the performance at hand.

In this depiction of Antoinette, she is shown as more of a true and human projection of the French queen rather than the common condescending view that most portrayals give her. “It is more about the heart, and less about the thought process.” Schultz said. She sees it as being more important to give her a voice than to depict all of her actions as being foul and wrong.

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Re: New Play about Marie-Antoinette

Post  Sophie on Sat Oct 26, 2013 2:22 pm

Bunnies wrote:That is, if you associate Antoinette with a wronged victim at the very beginning, then the whole portrayal can't be nothing else but inaccurate.
If you see that royalist propaganda from the restoration age, I can understand those sceptical people who disliked the way Louis and Antoinette were shown as innocent and holy martyrs. Of course, I think both of them were wronged victims on the human level, but what I subjectively say is no historical reality. If there's an "objective" historical reality at all (I don't think so). Art has a great responsibility if it goes on historical figures, anyway, as many people never read "boring" biographies - for them, a novel or a play or a movie are the only ways to get to know these figures and the age they lived in. That's why I judge fictions a bit more "unfair" than historical works.

On that note, a friend of mine once concocted a very amusing, but terrifyingly well-argued, thesis contending that Marie-Antoinette was one of the forerunners of Communism. Obviously untrue, and my friend was patently joking, but it just goes to show: if you let your preconceptions bring you to evidence rather than the evidence bring you to conceptions, you'll... Well, you'll be able to "prove" whatever you want, but it won't necessarily be accurate, now will it?
Laughing Laughing Laughing Laughing I want to read that thesis! But you got the point, preconceptions are misleading. I try to reduce them, but we're humans, it's impossible to live without our own bias. Writing a veritable scientific thesis requires a special ability of self-reflexion, indeed...
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Re: New Play about Marie-Antoinette

Post  Anna G. on Sun Oct 27, 2013 4:50 pm

I recently purchased the play text of David Adjimi's new work, since New York is too far to travel to see the production and because I was very interested in this newest 're-invention.' At some point, I'd like to write a longer post about my feelings on it... but for now, in short: it is not an accurate portrayal of Marie Antoinette's life. Which is not surprising and not necessarily a bad thing--so many film and theater interpretations of Marie Antoinette and other historical figures are not accurate, but it doesn't make them bad or not worth a watch.  More importantly, to me anyway, is that the play is not an accurate representation of the character of Marie Antoinette. Or, for that matter, Louis XVI.

There's been some comparisons with "modern Marie Antoinette" portrayals and "Mean Girls," and I think it would be apt to see that Adjmi's "Marie" is close in characterization to Regina George. She glowers at her friends when they say something that upsets her, like saying she is "so Austrian." She frequently snaps at her husband. She threatens to leave Louis and flee to Austria after the revolution breaks out (she gives in and stays, out of pity). To take Marie Antoinette, who absolutely refused to leave her husband's side, who was reported as saying she would 'die at his feet' rather than be separated from him, is absolutely bizarre. She even physically shoves Louis Charles away from her, which results in him being taken away by the Revolutionaries.

I feel like the playwright was attempting for an overarching comparison between ancien regime France/the revolution and the modern disconnect between the wealthy and the poor... but in the process he turned Marie Antoinette into an ignorant symbol which does the real Marie Antoinette, and the character Adjmi has created, a disservice.

There are a few interesting lines and scenes here and there ("I wasn't raised, I was built .." is one) and I've heard the actress (Marin Ireland) does the best with the material, but I am not a fan of how this particular piece has interpreted the queen.
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Re: New Play about Marie-Antoinette

Post  Elena on Sun Oct 27, 2013 5:16 pm

cheers Thanks to everyone for your insights. cheers This is very disappointing.No

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