Friday, November 15, 2013

Festival de Gavarnie's Monstrously Enchanting Production of "La Belle et La Bête" in the Pyrénées Mountains

This is from the middle of this year, but this Beauty and the Beast production in the mountains of France looks like it would have been amazing to see in person! I had to share it straight away, even though it's no longer running. Everything about this production appears exquisitely done; from the flyer to the costumes and masks, to the setting and the lighting... I only wish I could see it so I could enjoy the writing and performance (beyond the little in the video below) as well.
 ✒   (click the "Read more" link below this line for LOTS more photos & production info) ✒ ✒ ✒   
First up I'm including the mission statement of the company, Theatre Fébus (Theater Phoebus) because it's so very inspiring (via auto-translation from original French):
Work and reflection for the Festival de Gavarnie Pyrenees focus on the identity, its foundations and roots. Thus each year, officials are working to offer accessible to a wide audience and that the audience is involved with artistic creations rooted in a territory and history. The challenge is each year to successfully combine the show dedicated to the arts to magical places that are the Cirque de Gavarnie and Shelf Courade.

And oh my goodness the setting they used for this play! Although I'm sure they'd be hard pressed to end up with a bad backdrop anywhere in that area, the one they chose was integrated so beautifully into the production, I don't think any audience member would be able to be in that spot again without envisioning the story. What a fantastic place for an outdoor performance! It works so well during both the day and the evening (it appears as if the performance started in daylight and finished in the dark). The way they used the lighting to illuminate the natural setting  - as well as wander through it for effect... just, wow! I can't believe this is my first time stumbling across it.

There are a TON more wonderful pics HERE - the ones I've included are just a sampling. The Beast-on-stilts is amazing, and quite fearsome. He looks like he's gone back to nature. Perhaps that was the intent.

Here's a summary of why they chose to do Beauty & the Beast, although, it's not like the French ever need an excuse since it's so beloved, but it's great to see some solid thought behind the "why", too. (It's also auto-translated from French, from the official website HERE):
Beauty and the Beast is a basic story and the collective imagination of Western culture. 

It fascinates amazes, enchants, resonates in the minds of children, but also adults because it spares no generation.She speaks of love, the search for humanity, family relationships, our fantasies, our hidden fears, the transition from adolescence to adulthood, transgression ...Can we love beyond appearances? The beast is not it the hidden human face?Have not we as our domestic animals? Do we look to our heart?What questions we ask ourselves listening to this story! This story is part of the founding texts of the myth of monsters. Theme that fascinates even today it has become a fad through fantasy literature and film. After a more ambitious approach with Cid and in order to reconcile all audiences, creating Beauty and the Beast wants the continuation of a popular theater, open to all and gives pride of place to the imagination in its visual design of the site Courade.  
This show will also make a tribute to the poet and filmmaker Jean Cocteau. It commemorates the 5O years of his death in 2013.Create Beauty and the Beast in Gavarnie is giving its share of magic and mystery to this site so admired.

I also found a video which I was mesmerized by (I miss the theater!). Take a look:

There's a lot more information on the history, inspiration and writing so, since you will be scrolling through quite a few images I thought I'd include some of that text too (again, in English courtesy of auto-translation). 

On the writing:
Writing Spiesser Bruno, Jerome Pinel, Lionel Sabattier.

Four guidelines have attracted attention in writing.
The first is to tell the story as presented in the original story: A beast must be like for a young girl to find her human appearance. Here we do not forget the forest (Location ancestral fears), the rose, the sacrifice of the father, the jealous sisters, the magic mirror (window on the world) and its happy ending. A story, however modified by the fact that the beast does not directly show appearance at the Belle. 

The second is to understand the transition between reality (The world of the beast and father) and dream (The fantasy and desire with the appearance of a human double the beast). 

The third is to anchor the story in a magical world where you learn the true origins of the beautiful fairies and which play an essential role.
The fourth is to focus the story on the heartstrings of the two main characters.
On one side a young woman who wants to get rid of a dry society and violate the moral order, the other a beast that refuses any bestiality and tends to an exemplary humanity and supported by a consciousness symbolized here by a new character, the guardian of the pink and curse.

On the staging - which I'm completely fascinated by:
For the 28th year of existence and the seventh edition of the festival of Gavarnie, the Association Fébus Theatre explores the tale and myth with the adaptation of Beauty and the Beast. Appeared in 1740 from the pen of Suzanne de Villeneuve, this tale was popularized by  Lady Leprince de Beaumont in 1757. This universal story has been around the world  and each country has its version.  It inspired many genres: literature , Angela Carter, Italo Calvino,opera , Philip  Glass, the cartoon and the movie , Cocteau, Juraj Herz among others. Transgenerational it enchants and resonates in the imagination of children and adults.  Can we love beyond appearances, is his main problem, but other  themes emerge that can examine our differences and beliefs . 
...This story is a good example of passing a fiction writer because the myth  characters will become universal through the duality of being. Here animality and  humanity are opposed as the beautiful and the ugly, intelligence and poverty of spirit,  good and evil. The tale is a discovery of his own beliefs: those we  keep to see, understand, accept and love each other, who seems different  . by its appearance and behavior  How Beauty and the Beast Will they tame? How will they deal with this  acceptance and reconciliation process? By listening, looking but also  gesture, play and finally the language.  There is also confronting his animal side and its humanity. For the Beast  is an ongoing battle over himself to resist his animal urges, a kind of  schizophrenia where the predator becomes the prey. For the Beautiful is to agree  the initial representation of the beast and his ability to bring human feelings learning, learning how to eat, to play, to love. This story is also to treat  the theme of desire.Desire for the other and the unknown and discover our monsters  inside. Who is Belle, who is the beast? The roles seem to be reversed. 
Adapt this story in Gavarnie is a reciprocal sublimation where the  magic of storytelling meets that of this magnificent site. We will use the median well  flat side of the hill is to place public space and scenic structures enough  light to get closer to the river and enjoy the trails, bushes,  rocks that punctuate.  Work on light is essential and encouraged by this new configuration  set. With work on the transformation of the Beast, on stilts and tires  on the ground and the choreography of the Belle, the staging will highlight this back and forth between the world of the monster in the light, slow and confrontation of dualities and the world of men, the father and dominated by reports of violence and sisters  materialism.  A mixture of charm with a touch of anxiety, darkness, offsets and  humor.
Here's a short video fro promotion, including glimpses of the set-up and behind-the-scenes:

Doesn't it look just.. magical? If I wasn't already in love with theater, seeing this live would have won me over completely.


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