Henri Matisse, Woman with a Hat, 1905

The Madwoman of Chaillot

November 9 - 25, 2017


By Jean Giraudoux, Adapted by Maurice Valency

Directed by Conrad Alexandrowicz

“One of the most interesting and rewarding plays to have been written within the last twenty years.” - NEW YORK DRAMA CRITICS' CIRCLE

Welcome to the whimsical world of Countess Aurelia, a flamboyant holdover from a less cynical time. She whiles away her days sharing her joie de vivre and cryptic wisdom with everyone she encounters until corrupt businessmen discover oil beneath her Paris neighbourhood. With everything she holds dear suddenly under threat, the Countess is driven to unite the artists, vagabonds, oddballs and dreamers of Chaillot to fight back. A poetic and comic fable of the triumph of good over evil originally written in 1943 during the Nazi occupation of Paris, this play has a whole new relevance in our current era of pipelines and protests.

Recommended for ages 13+


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About the Playwright

 Hippolyte Jean Giraudoux ( October 29, 1882 - January 31, 1944) was a French dramatist who wrote 15 plays, most initially staged by the actor-director Louis Jouvet and later internationally acclaimed. Giraudoux was also a prose writer and served France as a diplomat and government official. Giraudoux was born in the village of Bellac and studied at the Ecole Normale Superieure.

In his youth he traveled extensively - to Germany, Italy, the Balkans, Canada, and the United States, where he spent a year (1906-07) as an instructor at Harvard. Returning to France, he served in World War I, was twice wounded, and became the first writer ever to be awarded the wartime Legion of Honor.

His worldwide importance rests on such plays as Amphitryon 38 (1929; Eng. trans., 1938), Judith (1931), Tiger at the Gates (1935), Ondine (1939), and The Madwoman of Chaillot (1945; Eng. trans., 1949), which was published and produced posthumously. Giraudoux also wrote five novels, the best known being My Friend from Limousin (1922) and Bella (1926), and numerous short stories. He was one of France's outstanding essayists during the interwar years, best known for such literary studies as Racine (1930) and such political studies as Pleins Pouvoirs (Full Powers, 1939). At the start of World War II he served as minister of information under Premier Edouard Daladier.

Giraudoux's dramatic and narrative style is a rich and inimitable blend of allusive prose, allegory, fantasy, and political and psychological perceptions. He tempered tragic themes with rueful comedy, as though he wished to unite the contrasting qualities of Racine, Moliere, Maeterlinck, and Baudelaire.

About the Director

 Conrad Alexandrowicz is a director, writer and choreographer, and the artistic director of Wild Excursions Performance. He specializes in the creation of varieties of interdisciplinary performance that address subjects central to the human journey: issues of relationship, gender and power, and the nature of the performance event itself.

Conrad Alexandrowicz holds a BFA. in Dance from York University, and an MFA. in Directing from the University of Alberta. Originally from Toronto, he performed with a number of Canadian dance companies, principally Dancemakers, where he began to produce his own work, much of which featured original text. He left the company in 1987 to choreograph, direct and perform independently. In 1995 he founded the company he still directs, Wild Excursions Performance. To date he has created over forty-five dance and physical-theatre works, some of which have been presented across Canada, in New York City, France and the U.K
Previous to his arrival at the University of Victoria, he taught at Simon Fraser University, University of British Columbia, the Vancouver Film School and Capilano College, and directed at Douglas College, Studio 58 and United Players, as well as for the company he founded, Wild Excursions Performance.

For the Phoenix Theatre, Conrad has directed Lion in the Streets, The Good Person of Setzuan, and La Ronde.

Listen to Lecture

Our Friday night lecture series is recorded on the day and will be posted here during the following week. If you can't make it on person on Friday November 10 at 7pm, check back here between November 10-17 to find the audio file posted below.

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