A brief synopsis of the play

Posted: Thursday, October 07, 2004

French playwright Jean Giraudoux wrote "The Madwoman of Chaillot" during the Nazi occupation of France. Amid fascism, it was intended to be optimistic. The idea was that common people, the pure of spirit, would inevitably rise above soulless invaders and foment their own sort of revolution.

The period evokes a little bit of 1940s France, but remains mostly timeless. "Look at all these people from every place and period of history imaginable," the President says at one point. The setting, a Parisian cafe, reflects this. It's full of random characters from every class, running about and interacting in a sort of circus atmosphere. This neighborhood, a glimpse of Chaillot, is alive.

The Madwoman is a wacky spinster, celebrated throughout the neighborhood for her eccentricities. To the untrained, she's insane. But her analyses are surprisingly lucid, and she has a true heart.

Oil has been discovered under Paris, and the powers that be - the Prospector and the President - are celebrating capitalism and scheming to get richer. They hire a lackey, Pierre, to deliver a bomb to the city architect. He realizes his error and attempts to kill himself out of guilt. He fails, and the Madwoman tries to convince him that the world is not as dark as it seems. He soon falls in love with Irma, a waitress at the cafe.


Aaron Elmore - Baron, Pierre, Sewer Man, Adolphe Bertaut; Alice Ottoson-McKeen - Flower Girl, Dr. Jadin; Becky Orford - Broker, Madame Josephine; Bill Thompson - Professor, Police Sergeant; David Funk - Musician; Ed Christian - Ragpicker, Rookie Policeman; Elizabeth Clement - Deaf Mute; Katie Jensen - Madwoman of Chaillot; Lael Harrison - Irma; Maria Gladziszewski - Prospector, Madame Constance; Micaela Bauer - Martial, the Waiter; Patricia Hull - President, Mademoiselle Gabrielle. Stage Manager: Catherine Melville.

Meanwhile, a ragpicker (garbage picker), one of the observant masses, sees what's going on with the corporate powers' plot. He tells the Madwoman that she's not seeing the big picture. After reflecting on a past love, she realizes that the powers really are capable of destroying the world.

With the help of three other "madwomen" - Constance, the Madwoman of Passy; Gabrielle, the Madwoman of St. Sulpine; and Josephine, the Madwoman of La Concorde - she arranges for a mock trail to dispense her magic justice.

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