19 April 2015
As a 4th year IR & Social Anthropology student, Camille Bigot is not planning on leaving her mark on the University of St Andrews through a dissertation alone. On top of this, she has written and directed her own play,Mademoiselle Bovary, which will be performed at the Baron Theatre this Thursday (23rd) and Friday (24th).
Being a driven perfectionist, Camille made sure that she would have enough time and energy to devote to this play, or as she likes to call it, her “brain child.” Despite having spent her entire summer writing the play, the French Society did have its qualms about how successful it would be, considering it was the first original play they would be producing. However, with a little bit of faith and Camille’s determination, you must certainly come along and see that she has proved them wrong…
But before we begin with the interview I owe the reader a little synopsis of the play as told by The French Society:
Set 20 years after events described in Flaubert’s novel, the play tells the story of Mademoiselle Berthe Bovary, daughter of infamous Madame Emma Bovary. On her wedding day, family and friends gather in a bourgeois/posh London estate to witness her holy union with a handsome Englishman. At the most unexpected moment tragedy strikes, leaving characters befuddled. They will have to resolve the situation amidst accusations of adultery, heated debates, lies and great dose of humorous sparks.
Camille and I sat at a table outside the cottage kitchen with cake and tea, blessed with one of those rare days of sun and warmth, casually conversing (in French) about her journey of producing this play, what she hopes to have achieved and what the viewer can expect…
V.D: So, does the audience have to have read Madame Bovary to understand this play?
C.B: No, of course not! But if you like Flaubert, surely this continuation should intrigue you! Everything will be explained in the epilogue and opening scene of the play with regards to the relationship with Flaubert’s text but it’s not an adaptation; it remains quite a personal piece of work.
V.D: And so why did you choose this specific novel? What intrigued you the most?
C.B: Well I needed to cater to the St Andrews audience – I need something well known and well written. And I have a particular interest in the role of the woman in society, especially femininity in 19th century literature. I was largely influenced by Simone de Beauvoir and how a woman can be stigmatized in society because of certain choices. You know, the “tragédie feminine par excellence”! (the stereotypical feminine tragedy)
V.D: How did you make use of genre to make this theme come across?
C.B: I would say that this drama is an accumulation of all genres. I kind of wanted to poke fun at the French Baccalaureate (we both roll our eyes remembering those tragic days) for having taught us how to pin-hole dramas under very specific categories that follow very specific rules. I wanted to mock that rigidity and show that a play can be good and break those rules. There are many “Molièresque” elements such as farce, comic repetitions, skeptical characters and comical duos. I wanted to highlight a contrast, such as that which you’ll certainly discover between Mr. Ro (Berte’s uncle), the pinnacle of moral virtue and Mrs. Ro, who comes off as a rather immoral alcoholic. She laughs
V.D: From what you’re telling me, you really do want to make the audience laugh but in more than just a conventional fashion. Sounds interesting !
C.B: Yes, this play is meant to entertain and be somewhat philosophical! I want the audience to have fun with it, just as much as I did and as the actors did too.
V.D: Speaking of which, how did the production and the development go? Did you find everything went as expected? Was there a good atmosphere during rehearsals?
C.B: I really enjoyed myself during this process! I think, well I hope, I can say the same thing for my team. We all got along really well and I love all the people I got to work with. We had a couple of social events along the way, which allowed many of us to become friends rather than just co-workers.
V.D: Sounds like you didn’t have many obstacles ?
C.B: Well no, not really… Oh actually, at first it was quite difficult to cast male actors. We had a lot of girls audition but it was quite hard to find francophile males who were interested in acting. In the end we pulled through, which is great! And, I also want to add that not all our actors are native French speakers! A couple of the girls learned English as their second language or study it here. I took the risk because they are really good actresses and take it very seriously, which I really appreciate. I honestly am very happy with my entire team and could go on and say good things about them all!
V.D: That’s quite impressive! And obviously managing that whole crew is also quite an achievement! What kind of qualities do you think you need to be a good director ?
C.B: Organization is key. From the beginning I fixed deadlines and goals. Obviously there were some last minute changes, but that was expected considering we are all students with social lives and the occasional essay or two…or dissertation…! Despite being a perfectionist, I find it’s really important to sometimes lend the reigns to other members of my team; those who applied to be creative directors definitely know more about costumes or lighting than I do, so I trusted them to make executive choices as well.
V.D: That is definitely a good thing to realize. And as you said, being a perfectionist, what was one thing that had to be done perfectly?
C.B (without hesitation): The kiss! The first kiss! Oh that was so much fun to play. It felt really awkward at first, here I was trying to teach my actors how to perform an overly theatrical kiss! But after a lot of practice, I’m quite happy to say that they’ve nailed it. It’s really supposed to be a comical and awkward kiss. I hope it’ll make people laugh!
V.D: Alright, well lets not reveal any more spoilers but it sounds like it should be a fun night! Thanks for speaking with me today and I’ll see you Thursday at the Baron!
C.B: Great ! Well thank you so much as well! I’m really excited about everything now!
V.D: Oh, I almost forgot: Your play in one word…?
C.B (takes last bite of her cake): …Adulterous!
La bise. Sortie.