This Saturday, the French troupe Elles et Lui will perform “Les choses, la vie, les choses” for one night only. The play will be divided in two parts – the first, an adaptation of Karl Valentin’s “La sortie au théâtre,” and the second, an interpretation of Jean-Luc Lagarce’s “Les règles du savoir-vivre dans la sociétémoderne.”
The director, Cécile Casanova, started the troupe seven years ago because she wanted to keep her passion for theater alive. Casanova studied drama in Paris, where she was born raised, and acquired the theater bug. She moved to Seattle in 2003 and brought it with her.
While also teaching middle school at the French American School of Puget Sound on Mercer Island, seven years ago, Casanova started directing Elles et Lui, the French troupe that’s composed exclusively of faculty from her middle school. With an endearing French accent, she admitted, “We are just having fun, we do not take ourselves seriously. That being said, we put everything into each performance.”
Valentin’s piece “La sortie au théâtre” is a brief glimpse into a couple’s life and their dealings with trivial dilemmas. The first scene unfolds: A husband and wife are getting ready to go to a play. He doesn’t know what to wear, she doesn’t know what to wear, and, before you know it, they’re fighting about everything. The play focuses on the traditional domestic scene and it doesn’t require an elaborate set – just an ordinary couple dealing with ordinary tiffs. Except in this adaptation, Casanova chose to cast six wives and one husband, creating a unique twist on the original performance. She views this piece as a prelude to Part II of the play.
While Part I is lighthearted, Part II is a complex look at how we, as humans, follow a set of rules to become successful. Casanova explained that the play by Lagarce is based on a book written in the 19th century on which rules to follow.
“Jean-Luc’s ‘règles’ depicts a very conservative approach to living your life by the rules – getting married, having kids.”
In Casanova’s interpretation, she casts the six wives and one husband like in Part I, only she’s turning Lagrace’s idea on its head. Instead of a monologue, she creates 15 different skits using the same lines – just different characters. She marvels at Largarce’s mastery of language and how it can be adapted to anyone in our culture – a redneck, a life coach, a deeply religious person.
“Les Choses, La Vie, Les Choses” will be performed in French.
“Well yes, of course you’ll miss a lot if you don’t know the language-maybe 90 percent,” Casanova said. The themes, however, are universal to human nature, and, despite the rapid French rhythm and speed that Casanova desires in this play, you may find that the message resonates because – at it’s essence – it explores the way that humans live, and, no matter your accent, you’re a human.
“Les Choses, La Vie, Les Choses” will show at Velocity Dance Center (1621 12th Avenue) on June 7 at 8 p.m. Admission is $5.