‘The Madwoman of Chaillot’ explores environmental issues in a classic setting


Ryan Morris

(L-R) Junior theatre performance major Savannah Core, senior theatre performance major Alyssa Maley and senior theatre arts major Emma Holland rehearse for ‘The Madwoman of Chaillot.’ earlier this week. The satirical fairy tale for adults will be showing in Valborg Theatre April 24-27 at 7:30 p.m. with a matinee performance April 28 at 2 p.m.  Mark Kenna  |  The Appalachian
The Department of Theatre and Dance will host its final main stage show of the year starting Tuesday at the Valborg Theatre.

Set sometime in the “spring of next year,” Jean Giraudoux’s “The Madwoman of Chaillot” is a satirical fairy tale for adults.

Written during World War II, this comedy explores the issues of fracking, drilling, pipelines and ponzi schemes – timeless issues one would not expect to find in Paris in the 1940s.

“It’s a story that could be told over and over and over again,” said Teresa Lee, professor of theatre arts and director of the production.

Lee decided on this play, which marks the end of her 25th year of directing at Appalachian, after participating in it during her undergraduate studies. The play made an impact on her because of the colorful language and characters.

The plot follows a band of merry vagabonds as they combat a group of prospectors hoping to dig for oil under a downtown café and gather space for local misfits. The Madwoman, an eccentric older woman whose outlook on life crosses the line between fantasy and reality, leads them.

“It’s interesting to see how she transforms the world,” Lee said.

Lee and the assistant director, junior theatre performance major Katy Hickling, have made attempts to keep their interpretation of the script close to the original intentions of the author.

“It’s ultimately about truth and beauty and love,” Lee said. “I’m sort of idealistic in this way with the idea that beauty and love and art can be our salvation, the salvation of humanity.”

Will Allen, a junior theatre arts major who plays the part of the President – one of those trying to dig for oil – said that the play’s humor allowed it to showcase many real problems faced by the world today in a less serious setting.

“It’s a really light take on something that we’re dealing with all the time,” Allen said. “It’s an easy way to look through a window of the issues that are on the table right now.”

This echoes the overall sentiment of the cast.

“It a very interesting take on a serious matter and it’s a goofy performance, and it’s not like something you’ll usually see around here,” said Emma Holland, a senior dance studies and theatre performance major.

Holland and Allen both got involved with the show as a part of their performance requirements for their majors.

One aspect that this production boasts over other campus shows is the size of the cast. There are 29 performers, including two live musicians, compared to the usual size of 15.

As the last main-stage show of the year, “Madwoman” presents an interesting mix of first-timers who just got into the program and graduating seniors taking their final bows at Appalachian.

“Some of us are passing through and others are passing into the program,” said Victor Rivera, a senior theatre arts major.

Rivera plays the part of the ragpicker. He hopes to pass the skills of the older members onto the newer cast and to leave a legacy of enthusiasm on the program.

“The Madwoman of Chaillot” will be performed Wednesday through Saturday at 7:30 p.m. with a matinee performance on April 28 at 2 p.m.

Ticket prices start at $8 for Appalachian students. For more information, visit theatre.appstate.edu.

Story: LOVEY COOPER, Senior A&E Reporter

Photo: MARK KENNA, Intern Photographer