Ariane Mnouchkine ‘s Theatre du Soleil

Last night I had the great privilege of seeing Ariane Mnouchkines four hour epic play, Les Naufrages du Fol Espoir (Aurores), The Castaways of the ‘Fol Espoir’ (Sunrises….and the name of the ship that goes aground off Cape Horn.)
The set was built in an enormous airplane hanger and the huge wooden shipping crates were used to decorate the entrance and delineate the space. One of the most beautiful and unique sights at the entrance way were the actors dressings rooms, visible to the audience through lace curtains. Each station was like a museum exhibit from 1914 (when the play is set, at the beginning of WW1), the actors had decorated their own areas with books and trinkets unique to each performer. We were voyeurs to their quiet, calm pre-show preparations.
“In a dancehall, a socialist visionary is shooting a silent film adaptation from a Jules Verne adventure, using cooks and waiters as his cast. Long before the ship runs growing on Cape Horn, high idealism and base motives are vying for the souls of all on board.” (from program notes. )
There were about 40 performers. Evidently each show takes years to develop and rehearse and from “Mnouchkine to the cleaning lady they are all paid the same tiny wage so they can take as long as it takes to get it just right. This show could almost be a metaphor for their own idealism.”


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