Discussion: Cyrano
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The themes of the play
About the location

Cyrano, adapted by Jo Roets, is based on the French classic, Cyrano de Bergerac, which was written by the playwright Edmond Rostand and first produced in Paris in 1897.
Write a poem about an ordinary event or object in your life. You will discover that you can find something beautiful hidden in an everyday event such as playing soccer, brushing your dog, or riding the bus.
Rostand was born in 1868 in the lovely seaside town of Marseilles, France. His favorite hobby as a child was designing stage sets and costumes for his little puppet theatre. In school, he was known as the "school poet."

Rostand's father wanted him to become a lawyer and sent him to Paris to study. Although he received a law degree, Rostand found that he much preferred to write plays and poems. One of his interests was in writing about 'failures.' He believed that before a person of talent could achieve anything, he or she had to undergo the public's scorn and criticism. Rostand recognized, and history has often proved, that it is the struggle against society's obstacles that ends up making one great. People such as Martin Luther King, Jr., Mahatma Ghandi, Susan B. Anthony, and Thomas Edison illustrate this point.

When Rostand wrote Cyrano de Bergerac, many of his friends thought the play would be a flop. In fact, there was so little money available for the production that Rostand had to make the costumes himself. Just before the first performance, he went backstage to apologize to the lead actor, Contant Coquelin, for the negative criticism Rostand was sure the play would receive. However, the play was a wonderful success and immediately made him famous.

Rostand actually based the play on a real person, Savanien Cyrano de Bergerac, who was born in 1619 in Perigord, France. He had a long nose, was an accomplished sword fighter, and became a playwright. Rostand wrote several plays after Cyrano de
Both Rostand and Cyrano had a lot in common. They should have believed more in their own worth.
Bergerac, but none enjoyed the same success. He died in 1918, at the age of fifty.

Cyrano is very different from Rostand's original play. Blauw Vier's version does not attempt to literally translate every event for the viewer. The original play had a cast of over seventy-five actors; Cyrano has three. As a result, these three actors must be more precise in their actions and speech in order for the viewer to understand the story. In this play, your imagination is an important part of the performance. For instance, the actor who plays Christian, Gert Jochems, portrays six characters in the play
Name the six different characters that the actor Gert Jochems portrays.
without changing his costume. In order for the transformations to be successful, the playwright requires your imagination to help make each character change.

When you watch the sword fights, you see that the actors have no weapons. Yet the sound effects produced by the actress trick your mind into thinking that the actors are dueling with real swords. The playwright, Jo Roets, wanted to utilize the effects of an old-time radio program. Notice that the effect is much more dramatic than if he had tried to make the play strictly adhere to reality.

Round up items in your house to create different sound effects. Have your friends and family guess what they are.
This play is visually very beautiful, yet most of the props can be found in a junkyard or attic. Cyrano is a wonderful example of what can be created out of virtually nothing when you use your imagination.

The themes of the play:

1. Are physical looks really important? In the end, it didn't matter what Cyrano looked like. Roxane realized she loved him despite his looks. Shouldn't Cyrano have just been more confident to win her love?

2. How powerful are words? Cyrano's ability to express his inner thoughts, his "soul," is what made him attractive, and it is what made him an interesting person. Do you know someone who is not very attractive, yet people adore them because of their personality?

3. How important is love to a person's happiness in life? Neither Cyrano nor Roxane was able to find happiness because they couldn't find love. If you were writing the play and wanted Cyrano and Roxane to realize they loved each other so they still had time to live a happy life together, what scenes and lines would you change?

4. To what length should a person go in order to be loyal to a friend? We admire Cyrano for his loyalty to Christian's memory. Is it possible that he took this loyalty too far?

About the location&

Cyrano is the creation of the theatre group Blauw Vier (Blue Nine) based in Antwerp, Belgium. The name Antwerp (Handwerpen) means, "hand throwing." According to legend, a giant called Druon Antigon used to collect a toll from boatmen on the river Scheldt. He would cut off the hands of those who refused, until a Roman soldier Silvius Brabo confronted him, cut off the giant's own hand and flung it into the river. This story may sound like a child's fairy tale, but it is really a symbolic tale of the citizens' triumph over tyranny.

The people of Antwerp speak Flemish, which is very similar to Dutch. Antwerp is famous as the diamond capital of the world since most of the world's uncut diamonds pass through the city. Antwerp is also the second largest shipping port in Europe. Antwerp has produced many great artists, like Rubens, Van Dyck, and Jacob Jordeans. For centuries it was also the printing center of Europe. The first newspaper in the world was printed in Antwerp in 1605. Antwerp plays an important role in European history because it was so important in spreading freedom of thought through the printed word.

Be an explorer: 1. Find a map of Belgium. 2. Look at the countries on its border. 3. Find Waterloo. 4. Find the location of Flanders Fields. 5. Find Antwerp.
Belgium is a small country bordered by The Netherlands, Germany, and France. As a result of the power struggles involving these countries, horrific battles have been fought in Belgian towns, farms, and forests. Over the centuries, the Belgians have suffered greatly. Napoleon met his defeat in Belgium at the battle of Waterloo. Many infamous World War I battles were fought in Belgium. Southwest of Antwerp is Flanders Fields, where thousands of soldiers died. And the Battle of the Bulge was waged in Belgium in World War II. During that war, the Germans occupied Antwerp and brutally rounded up all Jewish citizens, deporting them to concentration camps in Germany and Poland. Antwerp and its citizens are still scarred by these painful memories.

Despite the hunger, death, and suffering that have continually plagued this tiny country, its people are extremely hardy, determined and resourceful. Antwerp's Jewish community is once again thriving, the Belgians have rebuilt towns that were totally wiped off the map (including entire cathedrals that were rebuilt to their original designs) and now, Belgium has become the capital of the new European Union. The Belgians never give up. And the country is a testament that despite the greedy desires of dictators like Napoleon and Hitler, freedom eventually triumphed.

Because the Europeans and Belgians, in particular, have suffered through so many wars, you will see that much of their art and literature makes reference to war. Cyrano is set in the 17th century when France was engaged in the Thirty Years War. Spain was the main enemy. In the play, Cyrano and Christian are both soldiers fighting for France. DeGuiche is the unscrupulous commander of the company in which our two heroes are fighting.

Take a trip to the library and read more about these great writers.
When Rostand wrote Cyrano de Bergerac, more than a century ago, writers placed emphasis on "realism." This means that they presented life exactly as it was. You'll notice that in the play, war is not glorified and romance is not idealized. Cyrano's poetry serves as the only hint of a dreamlike, ideal world in which everyone would love to live. Other examples of realist writers include the English author, Thomas Hardy, French novelist, Gustave Flaubert, and Norwegian playwright, Henrik Ibsen.

Learn some Flemish words:

English Flemish Pronunciation
Yes Ja Yah
No Nee Nay
Please Alstublieft Ahls-too-bleeft
Thank You Dank u Dahnk oo
Goodbye Dag Dah
Do you speak English? Spreekt U Engels? Sprehkt oo ehn-gls?
Help Help Help
Stop Stoppen Stop-pen
You're welcome Niets te danken Neets teh dahn-ken