Theatrical study from “Madame Bovary” by Gustave Flaubert
with Sara Cicenia
text and direction Riccardo Colombini
“The true respect that the classics rightfully demand requires that every bigoted, sycophantic and false worship is pilloried”. (Bertolt Brecht)
When can a book be considered a classic?
First and foremost, a classic generally has a reasonable number of pages and has been written by an author dead for at least one hundred years. A classic is then a book whose title or author everyone remembers, of which everyone has seen the cinema or television adaptation, but that few – and often only out of necessity – have read. A classic lastly is a book that intimidates, that elicits reverential awe and reveals inevitable thoughts of supposed sacredness.
Or maybe what we have written is nothing more than the common prejudice we normally have towards the classics. Maybe in our assessment we are using the wrong measure, and we should start first of all from ourselves. Why do we (me or you who are reading) believe that a book is a classic? Apart from the critics, from what was written in the past or what we learned in school about that book. Maybe (but it is only one possibility) a classic is a book that works a bit like a mirror, where we can see everyone whole, we recognise ourselves or we recognise others. A mirror that often brings us back to the past, maintaining a constant dialogue with the present. Our present, of me and you who are reading its pages. And, in fact, it is a book that talks a little about us also.
In 1857, Gustave Flaubert wrote “Madame Bovary”, a book that is – always has been – considered a classic. When we read it, the mirror game worked and we saw each other – beards and moustaches included – with the nineteenth-century petticoats of the France of Flaubert’s time and, despite different events, with the same fragility, passion and humanity of Emma Bovary. “Madame Bovary c’est moi” claimed the author before the judges who accused him of obscenity. So many years later, making the words of the author our own, we try to tell you that this classic speaks about you too.
OTHER USEFUL INFORMATION
Recommended age: 14+
Techniques used: acting
Running time: approx. 50 mins