The Madwoman of Chaillot

by Jean Giraudoux

Fall 1996

The Madwoman of Chaillot is not a polemic against men or against capitalism. Rather, it is a play about securing the future. It is a play that celebrates life. It celebrates the human need for song and poetry, for imagination and fantasy, for diversity and tolerance. The street people are at the center of the play. When their freedoms are threatened, love and order must be restored.

The play isn't set in any one historical period or style. Shirley Matheis freely mixes 19th-century dress with contemporary street clothes. At times it's melodramatic, but it's also absurd, expressionistic, and physically comedic. Cory Kent's supporting music runs the gamut from the 18th-century mazurka to 20th-century jazz. John Hofland's set is inspired by Mare Chagall, a painter whose images suggest disproportion; hence, Shakespeare's bust, standing sideways in the background, is larger than the Eiffel Tower in the foreground. Norm Matheis' program cover does much the same.