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Since its premier in 1897, Edmond Rostand’s Cyrano de Bergerac has remained a classic of the world stage. With a heart as big as his nose, the poet-swordsman lends his words and wit to the handsome but tongue-tied Christian to win the hand of the fair Roxane. But, who does she truly love in the end?
The interior of the Hotel de Bourgogne Theatre, in 1640. A sort of Racket-Court arranged and decorated in view of performances. The auditorium is a long square. It runs diagonally, and forms the background, one of its sides beginning at first entrance, right, and ending at last entrance, left, where it forms a right angle with the stage, that is thus seen canted. On each side of this stage, benches along the wings. The curtain is in two pieces of tapestry, that can be drawn apart. Above the proscenium, the royal arms. Wide steps lead from the stage to the auditorium. On either side of these steps, seats for the violin-players. Foot-lights composed of candles.
Two galleries, one above the other, running along the side of the auditorium (that forms the diagonal background). The upper gallery is divided into boxes. No seats in the pit. In the rear of this pit, really front first entrance right, a few benches in tiers. Under a staircase leading to the galleries, and only the lower part of which can be seen, a refreshment side-board bearing lights, flowers, glasses, plates of cakes, decanters, etc.
In the rear, centre, under the galleries, the entrance to the house. A wide door, half opened now and then to admit the audience. Near this door, as well as near the side-board and in other places, red posters giving the name of the play about to be performed: “La Clorise.”
As the curtain rises, the house is empty and rather dark.
The chandeliers have been lowered into the pit, but are not yet lighted.
The audience enters gradually. Gentlemen, tradesmen, lackeys, pages, pickpockets, the janitor, etc. THE MARQUISES, CUIGY, BRISSAILLE, the waiting girl, the violins, etc.
Noise outside the door, then a gentleman bursts in.
THE JANITOR (_pursuing him_).
Here! Your fifteen sols!
I pay nothing for admission.
THE JANITOR (_to another gentleman just come in_).
But … .
FIRST GENTLEMAN (_to second gentleman_).
It’s not two o’clock yet, and the pit is empty. Suppose we fence a bit?
(_They begin fencing with foils they have brought along._) A LACKEY (_entering_).
ANOTHER LACKEY (_just in_).
FIRST LACKEY (_taking cards and dice from out his doublet_).
Cards? Dice? Let’s play.
(_Seats himself on the floor._) SECOND LACKEY.
Certainly, you rascal.
(_Takes a candle out of his pocket, lights it, and after seating himself near first lackey, plants it on the floor._) GUARD (_taking flower-girl by the waist_).
How sweet in you to come before the lights do!
ONE OF THE FENCERS.
ONE OF THE CARD-PLAYERS.
GUARD (_to flower-girl trying to escape_).
A MAN (_sitting on the floor, with a basket of provisions_).
I come early, so as to eat in peace. A knowing fellow, when he is at the Hôtel de Bourgogne, should drink his Burgundy. (Drinks.)
TRADESMAN (_to his son_).
It’s as bad as a low tavern.–(Showing the man drinking): Drunkards!–(One of the fencers backs up against him): Cut throats!–(He is pushed on to the card-players): Gamblers!
GUARD (_still pursuing the flower-girl_).
TRADESMAN (_hearing him_).
And worse!–For shame! To think that walls like these, my son, have seen the plays of Rotrou!