Censor's files reveal lost play by Cyrano creator
Friday 31 July 2009
Censorship can be useful. Here is the proof. A long-lost comedy by the French playwright Edmond Rostand, creator of the nasally challenged romantic hero Cyrano de Bergerac, has resurfaced in the archives of the French government theatre censor.
Rostand paid the manager of the Theatre Cluny to keep his first play Le Gant Rouge (The Red Glove) on the stage for 17 nights in 1888. To no avail. The farce, set in a waxwork museum, was booed by audiences at its first showings and dismissed by some critics as "unspiritual" and verging on the obscene.
In 1903, after the international triumph of Cyrano de Bergerac, Rostand paid the same director to drop plans to revive Le Gant Rouge. He destroyed all known copies of the play and rarely mentioned it again.
But he missed one copy. In the late 19th century, all French plays were subject to censorship. An amateur scholar, and Rostand enthusiast, Michel Forrier, decided to scour the French national archives. He discovered, in a dusty censors' file marked "Theatre Cluny", the unsigned text of Rostand's play.
"There was no author's name but when I saw the the title page, I knew that I had found it at last," he said. Le Gant Rouge will be published next week along with a collection of letters from Rostand to Rosemonde Gérard, his fiancée and future wife.
"I feel deeply, cruelly, the undeserved failure of Le Gant Rouge ," Rostand wrote in one of the letters. He said that, at the final performances, audiences were "contorted" with laughter but the original reviews had been so bad that the theatre had decided not to extend the run.
In 1897, Rostand wrote Cyrano de Bergerac, about a courageous army officer with a huge nose, and never looked back. But is Le Gant Rouge any good? Olivier Goetz, a literature don who helped edit the new book, said that the play had a "certain originality and modernity". At the time it was first played, he said, it was too advanced for the reactionary critics but not adventurous enough to be regarded as avant-garde by actors and directors.
Top Gear presenter is no stranger to foot-in-mouth controversy
New essay by JK Rowling went live on pottermore site this morning
Charlie Sheen could be set to revive his role as a hedonistic womaniser
Review: Mike Leigh's biopic is a rambling, rich character study
Want to ward off (or welcome) trick-or-treaters? Here's how
- 1 'Nasa Confirms Six Days of Darkness in December': No, they don't - it's a hoax
- 3 Topshop at centre of row over body image as 'shocking' skinny mannequin photo goes viral
'Nasa Confirms Six Days of Darkness in December': No, they don't - it's a hoax
Canadian actor punched in face after 'Islamophobia' experiment goes wrong in wake of Ottawa shooting
Halloween 2014: From the Screaming Man of Pluckley to the 'White Lady' of the Tower of London - Britain's 20 most haunted places
Russian politician says Apple CEO Tim Cook should be 'banned' from country after coming out as gay
Kentucky gang rape: 15-year-old boy left in critical condition after sexual attack by group at party
Pope Francis declares evolution and Big Bang theory are real and God is not 'a magician with a magic wand'
Huge surge in Ukip support after EU funding row, according to new poll
Ukip ‘exploiting grooming scandal’ to secure party’s first police chief
Nigel Farage: 'There’s nothing wrong with white people blacking up'
Maureen Lipman says 'she can't vote Labour while Ed Miliband is leader'
Muslims, immigration and teenage pregnancy: British people are ignorant about almost everything
£20000 - £45000 per annum: Randstad Education Plymouth: Randstad Education Ltd...
Negotiable: Randstad Education Group: Position: Early Years TeacherRequired: J...
£85 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Preston: Randstad Education is urgently...
£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £35K: SThree: We consistently strive to be the...