Letters of Love

By Robert Fuller, dramaturg

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The main way Cyrano manages to give voice to his feelings and beliefs is through his letters. With them, he is able to find the courage to express his feelings to Roxanne like never before.

Letters are sincere and personal ways to express you’re love and appreciation for others. For the lobby display for Cyrano, I made a station for the audience to write letters to loved ones, as well as to place on a poster to show appreciation to the Cast and Crew. I was overjoyed with the response by the audience.

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The following are quotes from some of our favorite letters received:

“It was wonderful! Thanks for a great performance!”

“Thank you for the great show. I loved it.”

“I love, adore, admire, worship, fawn over, and am smitten by this play!”

“You have moved me, as rarely has a performance moved me.”

“Thank you for having the courage to be yourself as you performed this play.”

“The message of the devotion of love and beauty beyond looks was so touching!” Continue reading

Clothes Make the Man: Part 1

by Robert Fuller, Dramaturg

One of the things which helped to define the characters and themes of this performance was the costuming. This is thanks to costume co-designers Cortnie Beatty and Lizzie Mickelson.

The idea behind the costuming was to give it a modern feel, while still having a historical reference. This helped the designers do three main things:

  1. They costumes referenced the way that the world changes.
  2. The colors helped define the characters and the stereotypes they tend to fill
  3. They also showed their characters’ boldness and courage.

Check out these renderings and explanations from designer Lizzi Mickelson to learn a little bit more about each character:

roxanne-renderingRoxanne: “As the female lead that the main action of the play revolves around, the goal was to emphasize her feminine elegance, intelligence, maturity, and strength. This led to a blue dress, which gives her a more historical look.”

christian-renderingChristian: “Christian was designed to appear as a textbook pretty boy, with a hipster vibe. His look is showing that he tries really hard to look like he shops a DI. This emphasizes the great lengths Christian goes to to appear attractive, despite his well-meaning yet false persona.” Continue reading

The Letter is the Play

by Robert Fuller, dramaturg

One of the surreal aspects of this performance of Cyrano is the set. To learn more about its creation, I talked with scenic designer, Rachel Bowerbank. Here’s a peak into her unique design.

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(Designs Courtesy of Rachel Bowerbank)

First off, as this play is one of our traveling shows (and has a small performance space) a compact, easily mobile set is required.

With those restrictions in mind, Rachel began with an exploration of scenic design in past performances of Cyrano. In one of the plays most iconic scenes, Roxanne is on a balcony, as Cyrano woos her while impersonating Christian. Many times, this scene includes a curtain, or drapes in the scenery. Director Kris Jennings and Rachel loved this image and wanted to apply it to the set throughout the show. The drape of fabric connected to the importance of Cyrano’s love letter.

To fulfill this vision, Rachel designed a single drop, or sheet of canvas fabric, which is painted on both sides. On one side are words which allude to love, and water colored blots, matching the color pallets for the casts costumes, while the other side is a final letter Cyrano writes to Roxanne. As the play progresses, the letter is used as a table cloth, a flag, a funeral shroud, and more. It unravels with the play, allowing the audience to see more and more of the letter. Finally, at the end, the audience sees the entire letter, and sees how it perfectly captures Cyrano and his love for Roxanne. Continue reading

Cyrano: The Rehearsal Process

By Robert Fuller, dramaturg

cyrano-1140x600-1024x539Kris Jennings, the director of Cyrano, used several unique techniques during the rehearsal process, which helped the cast with memorization, movement, and characterization.

  1. Under readers: Each member of the cast is assigned a fellow cast member to stand behind with a script and read their lines for them. This aids in memorization, and allows the actors in the scenes to have their hands free to focus on characterization. This also helps every member of the cast to stay busy, at all times, during the long parts of the rehearsal when their characters aren’t onstage.
  2. Applying a single word to each scene: Before each scene, the cast members involved decide on one or two words that describe the scene. These words include anything from kiss, separation to protection, to verbal jewelry, and flat soda. These words help them to visualize the scenes, and the feelings involved.
  3. Strings: These are activities the cast participates in before each scene. Once the one word description has been chosen, they take turns performing nonverbal actions, that they feel embody the feelings being expressed in the scene. This allows them to have a feel for the actions of the scene, and allows them to convert these abstract methods to a literal performance. (This method is shown in practice in the video below.)

These unique methods of rehearsing were partly taken from “Brian Astbury’s Trusting the Actor.” I was intrigued and amused by this method of directing. To see another company put these methods into action, check out this video from the National Theatre in London. Continue reading

Edmond Rostand: The Man Behind the Play

By Robert Fuller, Dramaturg

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An important part of understanding a play – and the message behind it – is understanding the playwright. As you read this brief biography of Edmond Rostand, and prepare to watch Cyrano De Bergerac, try and guess which events in Edmond Rostand’s life had an impact on him while writing his masterpiece.

Edmond Eugene Alexis Rostand was born April 1, 1868 in Marseille, France. His father was a skilled and wealthy journalist. Edmond received a law degree in Paris, but his true passion was playwriting.

His plays were known for being cheerful and inspiring, despite most of them ending in tragedy. They were also greatly inspired by literature from the middle ages. At the age of 26, he wrote his first successful play, The Romancers. Finally, in 1897, he wrote Cyrano De Bergerac: A Comedy in Five Acts, which was widely considered his crowning achievement. His fame quickly became worldwide, and he is to this day one of the most widely known playwrights of his time. Continue reading

The Real Cyrano: The Man Behind the Legend

Robert Fuller, Dramaturg

cOne of the most surprising things I discovered while researching this play is that Cyrano, and most of the people featured in the original play, were based off of real people living during the 16th century. This offered new depth to these characters and a new appreciation for the play by Edmond Rostand.

Hector Savinien de Cyrano was born on March 6, 1619, in Paris France. He grew up with his cousin, Madeleine Robineau, who would inspire Roxanne, the woman Cyrano is in love with in the play. At the age of six, he would meet his lifelong friend, Henry Le Bret. These two would have a large impact on him throughout his life.

As an adult, Cyrano would join the French Guards, and serve along side Anton de Gramont, the Count of Guiche, who was known for being married to the niece of Cardinal Richileu, a famous advisor to the King of France. He would also serve with a young soldier named Christophe De Neuvillette, who was portrayed as an important figure in Rostand’s play.

During his time in the French Guards, Cyrano would gain a reputation as a great sword fighter. After being wounded twice in battle, Cyrano retired from the Guards, and devoted his life to writing. His comedic plays, newspaper writings, and philosophical works would inspire many famous playwrights and philosophers, such as Moliere and Voltaire. He passed away on July 28, 1655. Years later, his biography was published by Le Bret, and eventually read by Edmond Rostand, who chose to immortalize him in his Comedy in Five Acts, Cyrano De Bergerac.

When you see the play, watch for the similarities and the differences between the characters on stage and the people who inspired them. If you were writing a play, who would inspire your characters? Continue reading

Falling in Love with Cyrano

By Robert Fuller, Dramaturg

cyranoHello! My name is Robert Fuller, and I am overjoyed and excited to be the dramaturg on BYU’s Young Company production of Cyrano De Bergerac.

Since it was first performed in 1897, Cyrano De Bergerac has become one of the most popular plays of all time, and has been given multiple film adaptations, including Roxanne in 1987, starring Steve Martin, and the Disney Channel original movie, Let it Shine.

Audiences will quickly fall in love with Cyrano’s talent for sword fighting, unnoticed devotion to his beloved Roxanne, sharp nose, and even sharper wit.

BYU takes this adaptation of Edmond Rostand’s masterpiece, and demonstrates the timeless nature of this beautiful love story, by setting the play in the modern day, with modern costumes. Continue reading