LesMisSept09 Page 1 of 8 Les Misérables- Introduction Welcome to this introduction to the Audio Described performance of Les Misérables, by Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schonberg, based on the novel by Victor Hugo. The performance will take place at The Queen’s Theatre on Tuesday 8th September 2009. There will be a touch tour at 5.30 pm; the introductory notes start at 7.15 and the performance itself at 7.30 pm. Please note that the production makes use of bright lights, smoke effects and loud gunshots. The production lasts for approximately three hours including a 15 minute interval. The live audio description will be given for VocalEyes by Louise Fryer and Jane Brambley. There now follows information about Les Misérables which includes descriptions of the characters, their costumes and the set. This is followed by useful information and contact details. Les Misérables is set in France and tells the epic story of Jean Valjean and the student revolution of 1832. The action begins 17 years earlier, in 1815 and moves to many different locations, including city streets, the countryside, an inn, a hospital and even down into the sewers under Paris. The set is minimal, with many of the scenes merely suggested by the costumes of the characters and by the use of lighting. Key locations are identified as large gauze screens the stage, with the time and place - such as "1815 Toulon" - projected onto it , in yellow lettering that looks as though it’s been written with a quill pen. The gauze is semi-transparent and, when lit from behind, characters are visible through it, in a dark smoky haze. The lighting is highly dramatic and atmospheric – sometimes the stage is a dark void with one character picked out in a soft spotlight, at other times a group of characters is illuminated in cold steely blue. Characters can be lit from a low angle so that they throw out giant shadows as they move. Some crowd scenes are like moving oil paintings, the colours soft and sepia or luminous and gleaming. Smoke effects are used: the air is thick with the gunsmoke of battle, or an all- enveloping mist is pierced by shafts of light as though through the overhead grating of a damp sewer. The manhole leading down to the sewer is a heavy metal grid, positioned in the centre of the stage floor, towards the front. The stage itself is cobbled in a dark charcoal grey. LesMisSept09 Page 2 of 8 The back wall is also grey - almost black - though sometimes squares of light, like windows, are projected onto it, the light filtered as though through the slats of shutters. The proscenium arch - the 'picture frame' at the front of the stage, is constructed of heavy- looking dark timbers. The action sometimes spills beyond the proscenium arch onto small platform stages in front of it, on either side. These stages are semi-circular, curving forward from the main stage. Each is about two metres deep. Behind these small stages the walls of the theatre are covered with a section of dirty brick wall, supported by further heavy beams. The walls have been moulded to incorporate arches - three on each side. They look rather like small railway arches about a metre-and-a-half high, stacked on top of each other. Only the top of the lowest arch is visible, giving the impression of a basement. These arches are used as entrances and exits, the cast crawling in and out like sewer rats, or sitting and crouching in front of them during large crowd scenes. A large revolve has been built into the centre of the main stage which gives an almost cinematic sense of movement as one scene progresses seamlessly to the next. Characters on the revolve can move swiftly around the space whilst others, not standing on it, remain static in front of them. A character walking against the direction of the revolve appears to be travelling, whilst actually remaining on the same spot. The revolve can also give us different perspectives on the same scene - allowing us to experience the action from one side and then the other. For example – large iron gates seen from the street swing around to the back, revealing the garden they are enclosing. Some locations are created with a few items of furniture - the interior of a Bishop's home is suggested by a large wooden table and chairs, the table set with silver goblets and two large silver candlesticks. When the action moves to a factory, two heavy cast iron gates about 3 metres high, supported by large stone pillars move into position towards the back of the stage. The poor people outside stretch their hands through the railings, while the Foreman inside prepares to pay his workers. An inn owned by the Thenardiers has plain dark wooden tables, benches, stools and chairs - a table to the right representing the kitchen area, with a large metal food mincer and crockery. We move to the crowded smoky backstreets of Paris. From either side, piles of junk stacked about 8 metres high close in, suggesting a kind of shanty town. The junk’s painted LesMisSept09 Page 3 of 8 black - huge lengths of wood, sections of metal railings, louvred shutters, barrels, cartwheels, iron bedsteads, boxes, chairs and ladders. The two towers of junk are linked, high above the street, by a bridge with metal railings. The bridge spans about 6 metres illuminated at either end by a gas lamp with a dim yellow glow. At times a crowded cafe is created at the base of the towers, by closely set wooden tables with benches or chairs. And the towers slide together to form the barricades. Away from the backstreets, there’s an oasis of calm: A garden which belongs to Valjean, simply suggested by two large iron gates with ivy clad gateposts and a small stone bench. The characters and their costumes The characters in Les Misérables wear costumes in keeping with the early 19th century. For the women - mob caps or bonnets, and sometimes shawls worn over corseted bodices, floor length gathered dresses or skirts, crinolines, bloomers and ankle length lace up boots. The men wear suits with a cut-away tail coat or a frock coat, waistcoats, breeches or tight fitting long trousers, knee length leather boots or dark gaiters and neck scarves or cravats. The gentlemen wear top hats whilst the lower classes favour stovepipe hats, workmen's cloth caps, bi-corn hats, (like that worn by Napoleon) and 'the red cap of liberty' - a conical cap with the top bent over to one side, a cap initially worn by freed slaves and convicts and later adopted by the French Revolutionaries. Jean Valjean is a tall well built man in his mid thirties when we first meet him in Toulon. It’s 1815 and Valjean is working on the Chain gang, convicted for stealing a mouthful of bread. He has long unkempt black hair and a beard. His face is pale and his dark eyes stare wildly about him. His clothes are dirty and ragged, his long coat torn and frayed. He carries a canvas bag with a shoulder strap. Although he’s granted parole, he still moves with the restlessness of a caged animal Eight years later, in 1823, Valjean is elegantly dressed. His thick dark hair is cut at the nape of the neck and greying slightly. His beard is full but clipped neatly. Valjean owns a factory and arrives dressed in a smart jacket, with breeches and boots; later, in the street, he’s in a top hat, a black frock coat with a white wing collar-shirt and dark cravat, and an embroidered grey double breasted waistcoat. In spite of his smart appearance Valjean’s LesMisSept09 Page 4 of 8 eyes never lose the expression of a hunted animal - an air betrayed by his sometimes violent sudden movements. Valjean is pursued relentlessly by Inspector Javert, an officer of the law. Javert is tall and solidly built - an imposing figure who holds himself rigidly upright. Javert has a strong face with an aquiline nose, heavy brows, full lips and a prominent chin. His brown hair is swept back off his face into a pony tail secured with a black silk ribbon. As the years pass his long hair and heavy sideburns become streaked with grey. Inspector Javert’s mostly in uniform, a double breasted navy tail coat with silver buttons, dark trousers and knee length dark leather boots, and a Napoleon style bi-corn hat. At other times he wears a dark tailcoat and top hat. He is rarely seen without his heavy black truncheon, which he tucks under his arm. Two women come to play an important part in Valjean's life: Fantine and her daughter Cosette. Fantine works in the factory owned by Valjean, but looks out of place beside her grubby female colleagues. She’s a petite shapely young woman with thick fair tresses which ripple down her back. She has a clear complexion and pale lips and gazes innocently at the world with large blue eyes. Her light-green cotton dress is clean: with short puffed sleeves, a scooped neckline, and a waist gathered high under the bust. It’s worn over a cream long-sleeved blouse with lace at the wrist. Around her neck Fantine wears a green velvet choker and a large silver locket on a long chain. At the factory she protects her dress with a grey cotton apron and her long hair is tucked under a white mob cap. When we first meet little Cosette she’s a child of six or seven, thin and dirty with a gaunt pale face, and a black eye. She wears a black knitted cap over her long straggly dark hair, and her plain grey skirt and jacket are badly torn and frayed. Her legs are bare, and she clomps about in heavy lace up brown work boots. About ten years later, the older Cosette is a beautiful young woman, her dark hair in glossy ringlets, tumbling over her shoulders. She is modestly dressed in a black silk gown with a full skirt and long sleeves, and a large white lace collar and cuffs. Her black silk bonnet is tied under the chin with a black and white organdie ribbon. As a child, Cosette has been placed in the care of the Thenardiers, who run an inn. Madame Thenardier is an enormous beefy woman with a mass of ginger hair, tied up on top that flops down either side of her face, like a mop head. Several of her teeth are LesMisSept09 Page 5 of 8 missing, giving her a grotesque smile. Madame Thenardier’s dressed in blue - the bodice low cut revealing her generous cleavage; the big puffed sleeves revealing brawny arms as thick as tree-trunks. Her apron is made of a heavy coarse fabric. While trying to fleece her customers she engages them with a cosy little-girl grin, which unfortunately reveals her rotting teeth. Her husband Thenardier is puny beside his wife, dressed in a badly fitting blue army jacket with gold tasselled epaulettes, brown breeches and dirty yellow stockings with buckled shoes. He wears a blue cap of liberty, flopped over to one side, beneath which his long greasy hair hangs past his shoulders. Thenardier has a long leather apron down to his knees, with a small slate hanging from his belt, and a pencil tucked behind his ear. He often holds the slate in his hand, noting down any extra charges he can make to fleece his customers. Thenardier has a wily slippery way about him, with his weasel like features, stubbly chin and sunken eyes. Eponine is the Thenardiers’ daughter. When we first meet her, as a little girl, Eponine’s lavishly dressed in a fine frock with a bonnet to match and she nurses a lavishly dressed doll. Ten years later, in Paris, Eponine looks rough: a waif-like figure with unkempt, long blonde hair under a workman's cap. Her white sleeveless blouse is dirty and cinched with a man's leather belt; her filthy cotton skirt is torn at the hem and she wears heavy, lace up boots. Her bare arms are covered in grime and bruises. But her face is pretty: she has large blue eyes and when she smiles, her whole face lights up. Eponine’s secretly in love with a student - Marius. He’s of medium height and slim build with tightly curled light brown hair. His fine features wear an expression of earnest concern which can quickly melt into a gentle boyish smile. Marius is dressed in a dark tailcoat, dark trousers, white shirt and red cravat. His manner is hesitant and quiet - unlike his exuberant friends.... ...such as the handsome Enjolras who leads the revolution. Enjolras has collar length fair hair, the fringe flopping over his forehead. His face has a classic noble look. When the revolutionaries are on the barricade he dons a waistcoat of vivid red with gold braid, worn over a white shirt, the sleeves rolled up. Enjolras moves energetically, inspiring all those around him to join the revolution, leaping up onto the cafe tables or scrambling up the barricades. LesMisSept09 Page 6 of 8 Another of the students, Grantaire, is a tall man with long, messy hair and a thin beard. He’s never seen without a grin on his face and a bottle in his hand. Gavroche is a young street urchin, a street wise boy of about nine years old. He’s thin and wears ragged clothes with a cotton cap and a cheeky grin. Even though he’s small, he struts about with a great sense of his own importance. Valjean also meets a Bishop, in robes of grey and black, trimmed with red, and a dark skull cap over his grey hair.... .. and a swaggering factory foreman, with long dark hair and a thick moustache - his white cotton shirt open to his waist, tucked into tight breeches with knee high leather boots. The total cast for Les Misérables numbers over 30, and those not playing the principle roles form an ensemble. The ensemble reinforces the sense of the scene, adopting different roles that add to the stage picture. They become farm labourers in straw hats and smocks of russet brown and orange; and factory workers dressed in harsh greys and cold blues. The officers of the law wear navy tail coats the tails pinned up revealing red linings. The military officers are in scarlet and gold. As whores - or ‘lovely ladies’ – the female members of the ensemble are resplendent, if vulgar, in red, scarlet, pink, and black with big feathered hats, feather boas, and low cut tight corsets. Some wear grubby bloomers, others ragged skirts; some have shawls or fingerless lace gloves. They’re all daubed with blobs of rouge and bright lipstick. Their pimp’s loudly dressed in a top hat, red cravat and fancy checked trousers. Their clients are sailors in stripy cotton tops, or elegant fops, tail-coated, top hatted, in silk stockings and breeches. The whores are lit like music hall artistes, by footlights at the front of the stage, which gives them an eerie and grotesque appearance, throwing huge shadows on the wall behind them. In Paris, the young men of the ensemble become students in waistcoats and trousers or breeches. They wear their hair long, sometimes tied back in a pony tail, and sport tricolour sashes of red white and blue, with cockades (a small bunch of looped ribbons) pinned to their clothing. Cast and production credits LesMisSept09 Page 7 of 8 John Valjean David Shannon Inspector Javert Earl Carpenter Fantine Rebecca Seale Little Cosette Jessica Daugirda, Rhianna Hosmer, or Mia Jenkins The older Cosette Katie Hall Madame Thenardier Lorraine Bruce Thenardier Martin Ball Young Eponine Sasha Easterbrook, Alix Gilbert or Megan Keast Eponine Nancy Sullivan Marius Alistair Brammer Enjolras David Thaxton Grantaire Martin Nealy Gavroche Ethan Beer, Declan Murphy-Saunders, George Sergeant, or Tristan Semon-Ward The chain Gang, Warders, Constables, Factory Workers, Sailors, Whores, Pimps, Drinkers, Wedding Guests and other parts are played by members of the Ensemble. The original text is by Alain Boubil and Jean-Marc Natel with additional material by James Fenton The music is by Claude-Michel Schonberg with lyrics by Herbert Kretzmer Musical staging is by Kate Flatt, and the Musical Director is Adam Rowe. LesMisSept09 Page 8 of 8 Costumes by Andreane Neofitou Lighting by David Hersey Company Manager Matt Eastaugh The design is by John Napier Les Misérables has been adapted and was originally directed by Trevor Nunn and John Caird The Resident Director is Adrian Sarple. Useful information and contact numbers At the Queens Theatre Guide dogs may be brought in to the auditorium or staff will be happy to look after dogs during the performance. If you will be bringing a guide dog please call the theatre beforehand, (if you have not already done so), on 020 7292 1350. You can also call this number if you require any other further information. Please ask for Nick Shaw the Theatre Manager or Steve Pleasants, the Deputy Theatre Manager. To contact VocalEyes, call us on 020 7375 1043. You can receive a copy of the freeVocalEyes Newsletter with full details on all our work by calling us or by following the links on the VocalEyes accessible website. The Newsletter is available in print, Braille, on CD or via e-mail. The website address is www.VocalEyes.co.uk. VocalEyes is a charity funded by Arts Council England.
Pages to are hidden for
"LES MISERABLES - Sep 2009"Please download to view full document