SUR LES PLANCHES
Scripts for Amateur French Theatre
Note on this Production
Jean de la Fontaine (1621-95) composed his famous fables - many of them borrowed from Aesop - for the edification of princes, but it was the French Third Republic (1871-1940) that found them morally improving enough for all to enshrine them in French education and thus in the national psyche. What citoyenne today doesn’t know what Master Crow was holding in his beak while perched on that branch? Or what citoyen hasn’t been admonished to imitate the ant, not the cricket? To mark their eleventh annual production, the amateur actors of the Club Théâtre de l’Alliance Française de Columbia have stitched together eleven of their favorite fables, first to recite in Norman R. Shapiro’s recent English translation (University of Illinois Press, 2007*), then to perform in the original French verse. They have altered not a word – they swear! – but if any fault is to be found in the particular (or peculiar) contemporary spin they put on each fable, La Fontaine must not be held accountable. Requiescat in pace.
*Each French fable was "introduced" by an actor dressed as Jean de La Fontaine who recited the fable in English, of which there are also public domain versions freely available online, e.g., Wikisource
# of characters:
40 (3 w / 6 m)*
Approx. 1 hour 20 minutes
Minimal. Simultaneous staging: stage left, office scene (desk, 2 chairs, computer); center, park (bench, potted plants); stage right, restaurant (table, 2 chairs). Left or right apron, writing desk and chair for La Fontaine
Contemporary, with minor additions as needed (football gear, running gear, waiter's apron, etc.)
* easily expanded or reduced, depending on number of sketches performed, number of roles per actor. Gender of roles adaptable.