Put the Spotlight on… The French Play!

Moritz Kleine
17 April 2013


Both Second Year students and French citizens, Camille Bigot and Fanny Restuccia have decided to direct this year’s French Play together. They picked “ La Cantatrice Chauve” (In English: “The Bold Soprano”) by Eugène Ionesco, an absurdist and hilarious play. The Interpreter interviewed them the night before their Premiere…



The Interpreter Magazine (TIM): Is this the first time you direct a play? How was it compared to acting?

Camille Bigot (CB): It is the first time I have directed a proper play. When I went to Oxford for a Summer Program, I learned the ropes of directing but this was my first real directing. I learned that directing is challenging! Giving stage directions is easy, however directing is just not that. Its also coordinating a lot of people, cast, set designers, costume designers, room booking. It was all very overwhelming at times but I feel Fanny and I stayed on top of everything.

Fanny Restuccia (FR): It is the first play I’ve ever directed, I had wanted to try directing for a while, so when Camille asked me I thought it was a golden opportunity. It’s been challenging but thankfully we’ve had a lot of help, from Martin and Saeunn, and from the actors who are always coming up with new ideas for their characters. I’ve really enjoyed it!
As an actress all you worry about are your lines and your character, but as a director you are involved in every single aspect of the play (especially since we don’t have a producer), which adds on a lot of stress, but makes you all the prouder of what you’ve achieved.

TIM: What made you choose this play? 

FR: Camille chose really, so I’ll let her answer…

CB: …I studied this play for the French Baccalaureate. It has always been one of my favourite plays. I just think Ionesco is hilarious. Also the absurd moral is very interesting. I like that you cannot answer the question ”what is the play about?”.

TIM: Absurdist, does that mean that this play has no meaning at all?

CB: No, it means that this play has a deeper meaning. You have to scratch under the surface. It is actually a very deep topic, taken very lightly by Ionesco using humour. It is about the dislocation of language, how we do not communicate with each other. You have to understand the post-WW2 context of this play.

FR: The conversations don’t make sense, but even in absurdity I think Ionesco is trying to make a point, which is precisely that of miscommunication, and of the absolute insipidity of everyday life. As if the audience were to question themselves: when they use the same sentences in appropriate context, is it not just as meaningless?

TIM: Will non-French speakers survive the play? Could they enjoy it?

FR: Firstly, anyone who has done even a very small amount of French will no doubt be able to understand most of what is happenning, since it is quite basic vocabulary.
Secondly, we have English subtitles!
Thirdly, a lot of the humour will hopefully be either visual or reliant on sounds more than meaning. As we’ve already mentioned, the conversations don’t make much sense, and though humour is often derived from them, not really understanding them does not hinder an understanding of the play as a whole…

CB: …and of course the actors are brilliant, you almost do not have to listen to what they are saying. They are also a very good-looking bunch!

TIM: Tell us how you made up the cast!

CB: We had auditions. We were surprised by the high turnout! It was difficult to pick only six, as a lot of them were talented. However, we were not only looking for native French speakers, but we were looking for people who could embody the idea we had of the characters.

FR: The cast was difficult to make up because everyone who came to auditions was so talented, but the final six we chose were just the ones that we found perfectly fit the characters, as we had imagined them in our heads. Half of the cast does not have a French nationality, so (apart from clear diction) the level of French was not taken into account. We also have a brilliant Costume designer and set designer!

TIM: Finally, why should everyone in St Andrews come and see the play?

CB: Because it is the only French Play of St Andrews, because it is different than anything you will see, because you will be laughing all the way through, and because our cast is extremely talented … and very attractive.

FR: Everyone should come and see the play because there are none others like it. Ionesco is often likened to Beckett, since they wrote during the same time, in the same place, and in the same genre, but though the analysis of their plays may be similar, the representation gives a very very different impression.
Come and see it because our cast is amazingly gifted, because it’s a hilarious play, and because you only get the chance to do something pretentious like going to see a play en français once a year!



Venue: Buchanan Lecture Theatre
Dates: 18th & 19th of April 
Time: 19:30 
£4 for non-members, £3 for French Society members – TICKETS AT THE DOOR

DIRECTED BY – Camille Bigot & Fanny Restuccia
CAST- Léa Duchemin, Laura Francis, Moritz Kleine, Marcin Kupiecki, Antoine Louette, Jeanette Viens
COSTUMES BY – Martin Lyle
SET DESIGNER – Saeunn Gisladottir

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