Last night I went to the théâtre to see L’École des Femmes, a comédie by Molière. Molière is pretty much the French equivalent of Shakespeare!
EDUCO organized this event for us and gave us a copy of the play during orientation. Unfortunately I didn’t read the book (I know I’m terrible…) before I went to go see the play. However, I had read some summaries so I knew the general story line.
The comedy depended mostly on situational humor, which is easy to pick up on. Unfortunately some of the linguistic humor was not as easy to catch. I was astounded by the set-up. The main scene was a house on an island. They had boats come to and from the island. They played soft waves crashing and bird noises during the “day” and crickets and mosquitoes during the “night.” The house had two stories and sometimes characters would be on the top level and you could see them, or they’d be downstairs in front of the house. The lights would change colors based on the time of “day.”
I struggled a bit with the comprehension. Some parts were easy to comprehend, others were not. I actually brought my copy of the play with me, and when I couldn’t understand I would read along so I could see the words. I have a hard time understand French when someone is full of emotion (angry screaming, crying, etc) so in the overdramatized theatre that was a little challenging. Also, they spoke in 17th century French (and if you’ve read any Shakespeare, you know that 17th century English can be challenging for English speakers).
Unfortunately we got lost on the way to the theatre. The real theatre is under construction and so the Comédie Française was using a separate theatre for the time being. We ended up arriving about 4 minutes after the play had started so we had to sit in funky fold out seats at the top for the first half, but at intermission we got to move to our real seats. The theater was smaller than those I’ve been to in NYC but still sufficiently large.
The play lasted 3 hours!!! I was surprised. While the script matched exactly the words in the play, the director pretty much had free reign to do whatever he wanted otherwise (as long as they didn’t say any words!!). So sometimes scenes would be drawn out with other “action” going on, just no words. And of course in the French way, the play ended with a sex joke (actually a few).
Here are some photos of the lovely fall colors in Paris (it’s nothing like Cornell!!) and the note my host family left me when they left for the weekend 🙂