La Fémininité Salvatrice: Paul Claudel and Olivier Py at the 2004 Edinburgh International Festival

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Abstract

Olivier Py's interpretation of Paul Claudel's masterpiece, Le Soulier de satinwas an eleven-hour production staged as part of the Edinburgh International Festival's main programme of events in August 2004. One of the fundamental aspects of Claudel's Christian worldview is his perception of the paradoxical role of the female in the drama of spiritual salvation. In her relations with her male counterpart, the female embodies both the human desire for, and distance from, the world of the spirit. Py recognised the ascendancy of the spirit in the play's dramatic universe, but he re-aligned the balance of power in order to claim equality for the male in a spiritual hierarchy dominated by the female. The originality of his interpretation came to a height in the play's fourth and final day by means of his audacious decision to cast a cross-dressed male performer in the role of the ‘actress’. By unsettling the hierarchical framework set up by Claudel's rationalisation of the female's spiritual privilege, Py stamped his own authority on the play and issued his own unique challenge to his audience.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)321-335
Number of pages15
JournalFrench Cultural Studies
Volume16
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2005

Keywords

  • Claudel
  • cross-dressed casting
  • Py
  • spiritual hierarchy
  • woman
  • Le Soulier de satin

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