Yes, yes I see you – you think I’m going to tell you another fantasy of mine but, madam, Don Quixote is a novel, and a damn good one, and above all, so long and so cult that it doesn’t work on a stage.
So this fantasy doesn’t come from me, and I saw, you know, in those old days when we could watch shows, an absolutely fabulous adaptation of Don Quixote of la Mancha.
It wasn’t really theatre. It wasn’t a circus either. It wasn’t dance. It wasn’t a puppet show. It wasn’t music. It was a little bit of all that: theatre, dance, puppets, music AND totally wacky objects stacked on the stage that suddenly came to life, according to the fantasies of the most famous madman in world literature.
Of course the director had to choose excerpts. But to see an actor – of good height and remarkable thinness, to really comb his hair with a salad bowl – then this is a totally unforgettable moment of happiness. Cheese graters to protect his forearms, a trash can lid to make a shield, all the kitchen utensils hung on his back to make an armor, and here he goes on an adventure, on a prehistoric age bicycle, with wheels much too big – and here is Rossinante before our astonished eyes, a kind of feather duster thing at the back: it’s the tail; broom at the front, it’s the muzzle, and let the adventure begin.
Describing his sweet, his beautiful, his novel heroine, his passion, his tenderness, is an exercise beyond my skills: just know that the very beautiful, very tall and very noble Dulcinea of Toboso, on this stage, is an absolutely amazing kind of woman. I came out of it collapsed, convinced that I would never be at the level of a female thing of this insane class.
Already in the novel, I had been a little disgusted – but on the stage, the damage was irreparable.
What was remarkable in the adaptation is that Cervantes’ spirit was not betrayed: everyone understands that by dint of reading novels of chivalry, poor Don has his brains upside down – and one can only notice how his brains no longer work when he throws himself like a demon at objects of any kind.
Obviously, the episode of the Windmills was impossible to ignore: making a windmill on a theatre stage was not so difficult.
The difficult part was to manage to hear something again under the screams of laughter from the kids sitting in the hall.
The video that follows is a study teaser made by the company, which has kept some of the staging flashes, changed others – it’s in French and just to give you an idea of the inventiveness of this creation, by the (very small alas) company Anamorphose.
And as this work is literally an inexhaustible source of inspiration, obviously, how can you miss classical ballet, which is a pure marvel:
The Opera – which is in French, by a French – Jules Massenet, offensively French name & surname- , so? no one else plays it but the French? I couldn’t find a version with subtitles, so you’ll only have a short excerpt of music :
and a version of modern dance, which is quite astonishing:
I admit a preference for the first version, the one that mixes all the performing arts in a joyful ‘nonsense’, because it seems to me closer to the author and his character.
Don Quixote is the man who wanted to live his imagination – so when you find artists who take him at his word, and who live concretely that imagination, all rustle of fury, honor, courteous love, epic battles against the bad guys of the world – and at the same time, so appalling, so surprising, so pathetic and funny – then these are the artists who are closest to him.
As for my famous bonds – to each his own stupid imagination – obviously Don Quixote is like the father of all the merry fools of the world, of all the monsters of our imaginations, of all those little things that could have escaped from brilliant but/and a little overworked brains.
So, if I don’t see for the moment any direct links to be created with games, there are however obvious thematic links. And the year when the crazy people will be in the spotlight, we will necessarily have to invite on our stage the most beautiful, the most literary, the most fantasque : Mr. Don Quixote of La Mancha.
Featured Image : from Don Quichotte by Anamorphose Company.